Jesus really, really annoys the priests and Pharisees (a lot of them) by saying “Before Abraham was I AM.” Despite Roman Law insisting that the Jews could not execute anyone themselves, they had, mob like, picked up rocks to stone Jesus to death He walked away and somehow escaped this, but why were his enemies so angry and why were they accusing Him of blasphemy?
So many people still talk about Jesus as a nice rabbi who was so humble He wouldn’t dream of saying anything as arrogant as claiming to be God. The big problem with this theory is Jesus did go around claiming to be God, and that’s why the Temple authorities wanted to stone Him.
It is mainly in John’s Gospel that we find the “I AM” statements of Jesus. These statements are using the Holy Name of God “I AM WHO AM”. (YHWH). Jesus is claiming that Holy Name. He was up front with the Temple authorities so that they can choose whose side they want to be on. He has already warned them strongly that as He has shown them who He is and has preached the truth, that if they reject Him now they will “die in your sins”. This is another one of those terrifying moments when Jesus says things about hell and death. The idea that He was some nice sugary sentimental guy is absurd.
By the time Jesus is standing before the High Priest being tried at night (which was illegal under Jewish law) there was hardly a way the High Priest could pretend he didn’t know who Jesus was.
Just taking John’s Gospel alone we find that Jesus made the “I AM” statement seven times (one of those important Jewish numbers) so He was trying to be as clear as possible. Surely it was for this reason He was saying, “You will die in your sin.” I really can’t think of anything more horrifying to hear from the mouth of Jesus, even if He was using rabbinic hyperbole. (Other than saying of Judas that it would have been better for him never to have been born).
C S Lewis was right. Jesus wasn’t just a nice man, he was either a liar, claiming to be God, or her thought he was God and was mad, or He is God and proved it and is therefore worthy of our worship and complete love.
We just have to choose.