BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS, Jesus said, "I am." Who can say what he meant? Perhaps that just as his death was not the end of him, so his birth was not the beginning of him.
Whatever it is that history has come to see in him over the centuries, seen or unseen it was there from the start of history, he seems to be saying, and even before the start. Before Abraham was—before any king rose up in Israel or any prophet to bedevil him, before any patriarch or priest, Temple or Torah—something of Jesus existed no less truly for having no name yet or face, something holy and hidden, something implicit as sound is implicit in silence, as the Fall of Rome is implicit in the first atom sent spinning through space at the creation. And more than that.
Jesus does not say that before Abraham was, he was, but before Abraham was, he is. No past, no future, but only the present, because only the present is real. Named or unnamed, known or unknown, there neither has been nor ever will be a real time without him. If he is the Savior of the world as his followers believe, there never has been nor ever will be a world without salvation.
- Originally published in The Faces of Jesus