Did Jesus Claim To Be The God Of Abraham & Moses?

Jesus continually referred to himself in ways that confounded his listeners. As Piper notes, Jesus made the audacious statement, “Before Abraham was, I AM.”[11] He told Martha and others around her, “I AM the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he is dead, yet shall he live.”[12] Likewise, Jesus would make statements like, “I AM the light of the world,”[13] “I AM the only way to God,”[14] or, “I AM the “truth.”[15] These and several other of his claims were preceded by the sacred words for God, “I AM” (ego eimi)[16]. What did Jesus mean by such statements, and what is the significance of the term, “I AM”?

Once again, we must go back to context. In the Hebrew Scriptures, when Moses asked God His name at the burning bush, God answered, “I AM.” He was revealing to Moses that He is the one and only God who is outside of time and has always existed. Incredibly, Jesus was using these holy words to describe himself. The question is, “Why?”

Since the time of Moses, no practicing Jew would ever refer to himself or anyone else by “I AM.” As a result, Jesus’ “I AM” claims infuriated the Jewish leaders. One time, for example, some leaders explained to Jesus why they were trying to kill him: “Because you, a mere man, have made yourself God.”[17]

Jesus’ usage of God’s name greatly angered the religious leaders. The point is that these Old Testament scholars knew exactly what he was saying—he was claiming to be God, the Creator of the universe. It is only this claim that would have brought the accusation of blasphemy. To read into the text that Jesus claimed to be God is clearly warranted, not simply by his words, but also by their reaction to those words.

C. S. Lewis initially considered Jesus a myth. But this literary genius who knew myths well, concluded that Jesus had to have been a real person. Furthermore, as Lewis investigated the evidence for Jesus, he became convinced that not only was Jesus real, but he was unlike any man who had ever lived. Lewis writes,

“Then comes the real shock,’ wrote Lewis: ‘Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time.”[18]

To Lewis, Jesus’ claims were simply too radical and profound to have been made by an ordinary teacher or religious leader. (For a more in-depth look at Jesus’ claim to deity, see “Did Jesus Claim to be God?

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