Within His three-year ministry on earth, Jesus spent a great deal of time in the Temple, and this is where we find Him in John 8. Of course, any time Jesus is in Jerusalem, He is confronted by authorities looking to discredit or kill Him. It is on this particular occasion, in fact, where Temple authorities attempt to back Jesus into a corner by presenting Him with the conundrum of the woman caught in adultery.
If Jesus agrees that she should be stoned to death, they will go to the Roman governor and accused Jesus of usurping the authority of Caesar. If He shows leniency, they will pronounce Jesus a heretic. Instead, Jesus simply puts the conundrum back on them. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” In the end, of course, no one throws a single stone.
“Go, and sin no more,” He tells her. He then turns to those who remain and proclaims Himself to be the Light of the World.
The Pharisees are angry at such a pronouncement. How dare He? “Who bares witness to your claims?”
“The Father,” answers Jesus, telling them that they are from below, while He and the Father are of above, and that they can never know the Father because they have never known the Son. “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.”
Here I can imagine Jesus clapping his hands, as if to brush off the dust, and turning His back on the Pharisees to leave. “I am going away, and you will seek Me,” He says, “and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.”
The Pharisees laugh. “He’s mad.” “A lunatic.” “He has a demon.” “He’s going to kill Himself.”
The discussion goes on, with the Pharisees working very hard to entrap Jesus and Jesus challenging them to name just one way in which He had sinned, just one – even the tiniest – sin.
Jesus, though, is sinless, and – of course – they cannot.
“I have no demon,” says Jesus. “I simply glorify my Father. It is He who judges.” At this, the Pharisees must be looking back at the woman caught in adultery and wondering if they are any better than she.
“Only my Father is judge, but if you keep My words, you will never taste death,” He says. And it goes unsaid, but He could continue and say, “and never face the Judge.”
“Are you greater than our Father, Abraham, who is dead?” The Pharisees are dumbfounded at the claim of Jesus, but not as shocked as when they hear Him continue…
“Before Abraham was, I am.”
With those five words, Jesus declares Himself to be the Eternal, Almighty God, Yahweh.
Note that He does not say, “I was.” He says, “I am.” He uses the same words that the translators of Exodus had used when they quote God telling Moses that His name is I Am.
One cannot believe that Jesus is just a good man. He is either who He says He is (God), or He was a lunatic.
He is the Eternal, Almighty God, Yahweh. I am.