I AM in the Temple

I AM in the Temple

I AM in the Temple.

“I AM the light of the world!” (John 8:12).

“You will all die in your sins if you fail to believe that I AM!” (John 8:24).

“You will know me as I AM after you have lifted me up from the earth as the Son of Man.” (John 8:28).

“Before Abraham was born, I AM!” (John 8:58).


a. In John 8 there was a lengthy confrontation between Jesus and the Jewish leaders in the Temple, which included Pharisees and other elders. This was an extended Q. and A., and in this testy conversation Jesus didn’t bother hinting at His divinity. He went straight to the point of His deity. Jesus used His appropriation of the personal name for God four different times in this one setting. His claims to be I AM didn’t seem to rattle the leaders at first, but by the time He was done talking, they were picking up stones to kill Him for blasphemy. It wasn’t long ago that the people welcomed Him with the waving of palm branches and shouts from Psalm 118:26, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Well, Jesus wants there to be no doubt, He indeed came in the name of the Lord. He said I AM, the biblical name of Yahweh, I AM Who I AM. Jesus literally claims the name of Yahweh as His own, a direct fulfillment of that exclamation from the Hebrew Bible.

b. His first I AM in John 8 came in verse 12, with Jesus saying, “I AM the light of the world!” He claims that He is the One who provides the light that shows how to live in God, the light that will not only show the way to life but also remove the darkness of sin. Jesus claims that He is beginning a New Creation, lighting up the world in the midst of darkness. He is the uncreated light, the eternal goodness, that expels the darkness of evil. As a musician once sang, He is Love that comes at the speed of light. [For an extended teaching on Jesus being the light, and His followers as children of light, refer to the blog post entitled “I AM the Light of the World.”]


a. The second I AM in this Temple scene is in verse 24. Jesus pointedly states that all these leaders and elders listening to Him will die in their sins unless they believe in Him, the I AM. He didn’t beat around the bush. He referred to the One who sent Him, His Father in heaven. Jesus told them He is not from this world, unlike them. They lived in the world of human senses and were limited to earthly matters. Jesus told them He came from another world, another sphere. He is from above, they are from below. The Jewish leaders were befuddled and confused. They weren’t stupid, necessarily. They instead were wearing spiritual blinders. They thought they knew what needed to be known. They simply weren’t ready to be spiritually surprised. They didn’t have eyes to see or ears to hear. The idea that they would die under the curse of their sins was completely foreign to them. Jesus took them by surprise, He was unexpected in their spiritual understanding of the Faith. By declaring He was I AM, by sharing the divine name with Yahweh, He claimed to have eternal kinship with the God of Israel. Yahweh was the centerpiece and goal of Israel’s faith, and Jesus claimed here that role for Himself. Believe in me, Jesus says, and your faith will save you from your sins.

b. These words from Jesus mystified the religious leaders, and they bluntly asked Jesus, “Who are you, really?” Losing patience, Jesus responded,
Why do I even bother speaking with you? I am exactly what I have been telling you from the first!” Jesus wonders aloud why His teaching, His miracles, His very life weren’t sufficient to convince them of who He is. His divine nature is being revealed all the time, and they still don’t believe?

c. Some of the Jewish leaders starting believing in Him at this point in the Temple, but most did not. They didn’t think they needed to be saved, and could not accept Jesus as the Great I AM. Many of the leaders rejected Jesus all the way to the Cross, at which point Jesus, in His mercy, prayed that they would be forgiven for their unbelief. Jesus graciously accepted the fact that they didn’t know what they were doing.


a. This confrontation continued, and Jesus spoke plainly about how they will be free if they are faithful to the truth of His teaching. Jesus only teaches what the Father has taught Him. They are otherwise slaves to sin, and need to be freed. Jesus said they if they limit themselves to having Abraham as their father, they won’t be truly free. They need God as their Father, and Jesus as the Son of that Father.

b. At this point, Jesus claims for the third time in this chapter that He is I AM. He declared that they will know Him as I AM after they lift up Jesus from the earth as the Son of Man. [Please refer to the blog post “I AM He” for a teaching on these verses of 28-32. That post explores the crucially important relationship between the Father and the Son, and the glory of His being lifted up.]

c. And now Jesus really got down to business. He brashly stated that their father must be the devil, since they seem to hate the truth so much. They don’t belong to God, because otherwise they would listen gladly to the words of God. No surprise at this point… The leaders responded strongly by telling Jesus that He is the one possessed by the devil! Who does He think He is, telling us that His followers would never die! Jesus was of course talking about spiritual death, but they still couldn’t grasp what He was saying.

d. They stayed on this objection by saying that their great father Abraham died, and your followers will not die? You are talking nonsense, Jesus! You are the one possessed! Jesus continued to lay it all on the line. He said that father Abraham rejoiced when he looked forward to the coming of Jesus into the world. Jesus said that Abraham saw it happening from afar and he was very glad. The Pharisees kept their blinders on, and said that couldn’t have happened with Abraham. After all, Jesus isn’t yet 50 years old.


a. Once gain, Jesus claimed divinity. He declared, “Before Abraham was even born, I AM!” For the fourth time this chapter, Jesus is embracing His equality with God, that He existed before Abraham. Jesus here claimed to be eternal. Jesus isn’t shy about claiming the personal name of God, Yahweh, I AM What I AM.

b. Finally, the Jewish leaders had heard enough, and their hostility came bursting to the surface. They all started picking up stones to kill Jesus right there at the Temple. Blasphemy! They believed they were following the Law as stated in Leviticus 24:16. But it wasn’t time yet for Jesus to give up His life, to be lifted up. He somehow slipped away from the furious leaders in the Temple, the Holy Spirit hiding Him, and He left to continue His ministry elsewhere.


What has Jesus revealed about Himself with this grouping of I AMs? Jesus appropriated the personal name of God, Yahweh, a number of times. In each declaration in John 8, He fills in a little more of the Name that begs a question… I AM what? Jesus declares that He is the light of the world. He declares that He is the Savior, saving people from their sins. He declares that He is glorified in suffering, that He is utterly dependent on His Father. And finally He declares that He is the Eternal One. Jesus claims to be of one substance with God Himself. No wonder the Temple leaders wanted to stone Him for blasphemy. We have the same choice. Jesus didn’t leave us the option of merely considering Him a wonderful teacher and exemplary human being. Jesus is either possessed by the devil, a liar, a con man, insane, or He is the Truth. His claims are outlandish, they leave no room for a nonresponse. There is no middle ground, no wiggle room. We either believe He is true to His word, or we reject Him in unbelief. What will you decide?