Commentary on the Gospel of

Paulson Veliyannoor, CMF - Claretian Publications Philippines

Jesus as “I am”

The conflict now reaches the flashpoint and boils over when Jesus claims ontological priority and eternal existence before Abraham, by appropriating the name of God to himself: “Before Abraham was, I am.” At the Feast of the Tabernacles where God’s Name was invoked, it was easier for people to associate Jesus’ self-referential, present tense use of “I am” with the “I am” in Exodus (3:14) and Isaiah (43:13). Ironically, the very same crowd that denied knowledge of anyone wanting to kill Jesus (cf. Jn 7:20), now takes up stones to kill him by the prescribed penalty for blasphemy (cf. Lev. 24: 16, 23). In doing so, they prove Jesus right: that they were descendants of Abraham only in flesh, but not in spirit. For, in the First Reading, we find Abraham prostrating before Yahweh acknowledging Him as his God, whereas his descendants take up stones to kill the same God.


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