Jesus said to the Jews: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.” So the Jews said to him, “Now we are sure that you are possessed. Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.' Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? Or the prophets, who died? Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing; but it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.' You do not know him, but I know him. And if I should say that I do not know him, I would be like you a liar. But I do know him and I keep his word. Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him,
“You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
before Abraham came to be, I AM.” So they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.
The worldly minds of the Jews are intent on the flesh only; they think only of Jesus' age in the flesh: "Then said the Jews to Him, you are not fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" that is to say, "Many ages have passed since Abraham died; and how then could he see your day?"
Our Savior mildly draws them away from their secular view, to the contemplation of His Divinity; Jesus said to them, "Amen, Amen, I say to you, Before Abraham was, I AM." 'Before' refers to the past, 'am', the present. Divinity has no past or future, but always the present; and therefore He does not say, "Before Abraham was, I was": but, "Before Abraham was, I AM": as it is in Exodus 3:14, "I AM WHO I AM." 'Before' and 'after' might be said of Abraham with reference to different periods of his life; 'to be', in the present, is said of the unchanging truth only.
Their unbelieving minds, however, were unable to support these indications of eternity; and not understanding Him, sought to destroy Him, who, had He chosen to exert the power of His Divinity, could have delivered them to immediate death. But He who came to suffer was slow to execute judgment. Instead our Lord hid himself, showing that the truth is hidden to those who despise His words. The truth flees the company of a soul full of pride. His example shows us, that we should in all humility retreat from the wrath of the proud when it rises, than resist it even though we might be able.