Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Jesus, the Great I Am

Those who deny the deity of Jesus Christ like to point out that he never actually said that he was God.  Of course, the Bible is full of OT and NT passages that make it very clear that he was indeed Jehovah.  But let me draw your attention to John 8 where, in fact, he does state that he is God.  One might remember that for someone to stand up and proclaim to be God openly would result in a quick and probably painful death.  Jesus was on his timetable and made it clear from the start that he would be crucified when his hour comes and not a minute before.  So the point here is that he hid who he was to the general public and especially from the official custodians of the Jewish nation and as his hour approached became more and more open.  So we need not trip up over the fact that Jesus didn’t use language as openly as we might expect.  After all, if he wanted everyone to know he was God while he was on earth, he would have taken more than three men with him on the Mount of Transfiguration.  But I digress.
When speaking with the religious crowd of his day in John 8 he says three times in this chapter that he is the “I Am”.  Joh 8:24  I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins."  Joh 8:28  So Jesus said to them, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.  Joh 8:58  Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am."  Finally the translators leave off the he which is not in the Greek in all three verses.  And finally these Jewish leaders know full well what he is saying and do what they must do as unbelieving Jewish leaders, they pick up stones to kill the blasphemer.  Later at Jesus’ arrest we are given one more opportunity to make the connection that Jesus is Jehovah, the Great I Am.  When asked if he is Jesus he says I Am and they are knocked backwards.  But even this outward display doesn’t break the sinner’s will.
But notice one more thing in John 8:24.  Jesus makes the connection between “not believing that Jesus is God” and “dying in your sins”.  A lot of people think that having any old faith will get one into Heaven but we see here that saving faith believes that Jesus is God.  This must be so because a sacrifice that is merely human can’t atone for man’s sin.  The only righteousness that God will accept as a suitable payment for sin against him is his own righteousness.  To stand in anyone else’s righteousness in the Day of Judgment will not end well.  Notice how Jesus keeps referring to dying in your sins.  He is pointing out the fact that many are denying today, that unless ones’ sins are forgiven before they die, they aren’t going up to Heaven, they are going down to Hell.  Jesus didn’t come to Earth and die on the cross just to display how much God loves a world of rebels.  He died on the cross because this is the only way sinners can be saved from the guilt of sin.
The fact that Jesus would be crucified is proof positive that sin is beyond our ability to atone for and that God takes it seriously.  So Jesus said in vs. 28 that when you see me on the cross, that is the sign I am who I said I am and your only option is to repent of your sins and trust in me.  Joh 20:31  but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

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