57 Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” 59 Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
Then the Jews said to Him,
Yet again the Jews misinterpreted what Jesus said in the previous verses. They understood Jesus as speaking about a literal contact between Jesus and Abraham.
“You are not yet fifty years old,
“Fifty years” was the normal retirement age. Someone so young could never have seen Abraham. Abraham lived 2,000 years before Christ.
and have You seen Abraham?”
The issue for the Jews was how it was possible for Abraham and Jesus to know each other. They took Jesus’ statement as crassly literal. The argument of the Jews was based on the premise that Jesus was the contemporary of Abraham. For them, this was ludicrous and found its origin in demonic possession.
Jesus said to them,
Jesus now asserted His superiority over Abraham.
Jesus answered with the double amen, amen, making another important statement. He was about to make a credible point.
I say to you,
Jesus now clarified the distinction between His earthly appearance and His eternal absolute existence.
before Abraham was, I AM.”
This statement is the climax of this chapter and the “I am” assertions in this chapter (Jn 8:24, 28). Jesus claimed deity here. He existed before Abraham. Abraham lived during a fleeting span of time, but Christ existed from all eternity. His being transcends time.
The word “was” means to come into being. Before Abraham began or came into being, Christ existed in eternity. Jesus asserted more than He existed before Abraham; He said that He eternally existed. Christ did not exist merely in time but in eternity. He was speaking of His timelessness.
“I AM” is a full disclosure of who Christ was. It is a title of God (Ex 3:14). The idea is that the Son of God never came into being at all because He always existed in eternity. The Jews in the next verse understood it that way because they wanted to stone Him for blasphemy. This is a statement of Jesus’ superiority to Abraham. His claim was to be Yahweh Himself.
Then they took up stones to throw at Him;
Stoning was the prescribed Old Testament punishment for blasphemy (Le 24:16). This stoning required a legal process, however. By this attempt to stone Him, the Jews recognized that Christ claimed to be God almighty.
but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple,
Jesus went out of the temple area with a group of friends. His enemies probably did not recognize Him in the crowd.
going through the midst of them,
God hid Jesus so that those who wanted to kill Him could not see Him. He left while His enemies were gathering stones to kill Him.
and so passed by.
Jesus escaped arrest several times. This was one of them.
This verse concludes the light of the world discourse by Jesus (Jn 8:12-59).
Christ clearly claimed deity for Himself.
It is patently clear that Jesus claimed to be God almighty. He made that assertion in no uncertain terms in this passage. There are people today who declare that Christ never made this claim. They have to stick their heads in the sand to not see the explicit statement of this passage.