Jesus said to the Jews: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.” So the Jews said to him, “Now we are sure that you are possessed. Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? Or the prophets, who died? Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing; but it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ You do not know him, but I know him. And if I should say that I do not know him, I would be like you a liar. But I do know him and I keep his word. Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.” So they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.
BEFORE ABRAHAM CAME TO BE, I AM. We have here two instances of misunderstanding or superficial comprehension.
The first is how the Jews understand Jesus’ statement: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death” (v 51). The Jews think Jesus is speaking literally and cite the examples of their father Abraham and the prophets who died, thus challenging Jesus’ implicit claim that he is greater than Abraham and the prophets. But Jesus means more than literal “living” and “dying.”
The second instance is when Jesus says, “Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad” (v 56) and “…before Abraham came to be, I AM” (v 58). The Jews pick up stones to throw at Jesus.
Jesus is life and, therefore, if we cling to his words, life remains in us. He is the vine that nourishes us who are the branches, provided we remain in him. God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is beyond time and is ever present and has revealed himself to Abraham, Moses, and others who opened themselves up to him.
Do we believe Jesus is the vine that nourishes us and keeps us alive? Are we clinging on to Him or to other things?