In Jn 8:56, Jesus says, "Abraham your father rejoiced greatly in the prospect of seeing my day, and he saw it and rejoiced". Since Abraham died hundreds of years before Jesus said this, how could Jesus say that Abraham "saw it and rejoiced", if there is no conscious awareness after death?
Jesus used the past tense of “see,” meaning when Abraham was alive he saw Christ’s day. The Jews did not understand Jesus to be saying that Abraham was then alive somewhere witnessing Christ’s day at that moment. That is why they asked Jesus if he was older than Abraham.
But what did Jesus mean? Abraham saw Christ’s day because he lived a prophetic drama that foreshadowed the birth and death of Jesus – Abraham playing the role of Jehovah. First, Abraham and his wife miraculously conceived Isaac – just as Jesus’ birth was miraculous. Secondly, when Isaac was grown Abraham as good as sacrificed his only son through Sarah – picturing, obviously, Jehovah sacrificing his only-begotten son. So, in that respect Abraham “saw” Jesus’ day because he apparently understood that the promised seed would be born in the manner of Isaac and serve as a ransom sacrifice.