Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”—John 8:58
Abraham learned of God the greatest lesson ever given to mortal. His prayer that he might see Christ before he should die was answered. He saw Christ; he saw all that mortal can see, and live. By making an entire surrender, he was able to understand the vision of Christ, which had been given him. He was shown that in giving His Only begotten Son to save sinners from eternal ruin, God was making a greater and more wonderful sacrifice than ever humans could make.
Abraham’s experience answered the question: “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Micah 6:6, 7). In the words of Abraham, “My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering,” (Genesis 22:8), and in God’s provision of a sacrifice instead of Isaac, it was declared that no person could make expiation for himself. The pagan system of sacrifice was wholly unacceptable to God…. The Son of God alone can bear the guilt of the world.
Through his own suffering, Abraham was enabled to behold the Saviour’s mission of sacrifice. But Israel would not understand that which was so unwelcome to their proud hearts. Christ’s words concerning Abraham conveyed to His hearers no deep significance. The Pharisees saw in them only fresh ground for caviling. They retorted with a sneer, as if they would prove Jesus to be a madman, “Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?”
With solemn dignity Jesus answered, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM.”
Silence fell upon the vast assembly. The name of God, given to Moses to express the idea of the eternal presence, had been claimed as His own by this Galilean Rabbi. He had announced Himself to be the self-existent One, He who had been promised to Israel, “whose goings forth have been from of old, from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2, margin).—The Desire of Ages, 469, 470.
Further Reflection: Jesus beheld my every need before the foundation of the world. How can I thank Him today for loving me before the foundation of the world?