JESUS: THE GREAT I AM
WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?
Jesus' question rings down through history, confronting each of us. As we reflect on who Jesus is, we should go to the source and see what He said about Himself. In John's Gospel, Jesus describes Himself at every turn with statements beginning with the powerful words "I am." With these words Jesus reveals His origin and destiny, His role, and His identity in relation to the Father.
So who does Jesus say He is?
Origin and destiny
"I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father" (16:28). In these few words Jesus sums up what He repeatedly stated about His origin and destination (cf. 6:51; 7:28-33; 8:16). This reality set Jesus apart from His audience, for He told them, "You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world" (8:23).
This difference created an impassible gulf between Jesus and the rest of humanity: "For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me. You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come" (7:33,34). This gulf was created by their refusing to believe that Jesus was who He professed to be: "I go away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come" (8:21). Thankfully, Jesus didn't leave His audience without hope. To be sure, those who did not believe would die in their sins. But in 8:24 He opens the door. Those who believe in Him can follow Him!
As Jesus would later teach His followers, those who serve and follow Him will be where He is (12:26), even though they cannot follow Him there immediately (13:33). Rather, Jesus would return one day and be reunited with His followers, thus providing a way for them to join Him (14:3, 4). This coming reunion will allow His followers to see the glory given to the Son from before the foundation of the world as a result of the Father's love (1 7:24).
We can understand, then, why Jesus' followers were anxious to know the way to follow Him (14:5). Jesus' response sums up all that He says about His role: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (14:6).
To grasp the fullness of Jesus' words in John 14:6, we need to look at the various ways He revealed Himself as the exclusive path to the Father, the embodiment of truth, and life itself.
Bread of Life. In John 6 Jesus multiplied bread and walked on water. With Passover nearing, the crowds no doubt saw a link to the manna and the Red Sea miracle. But Jesus was not content to be seen simply as a prophet and miracle worker, like Moses. Rather, He proclaimed, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst" (v.35). Unlike the manna that left the Israelites hungry, Jesus was the true living bread of heaven who brought eternal life. Such a claim demonstrated that the Jesus event, not the exodus from Egypt, was now the redemptive act of God par excellence.
Light of the World. Jesus identified Himself as the "Light of the world" (8:12; 9:5). By healing a man born blind and invoking the ire of the religious elite, Jesus redefined darkness and light. Those who believed in and worshipped Him had true vision, no matter how shrouded in darkness they had been. Conversely, those who hid their sin in pride and rejected Jesus were truly blind, no matter how holy they appeared to be (1:9-13).
Good Shepherd, Door of the Sheep. In John 10 Jesus called Himself the true shepherd over God's people. Alluding often to the unfaithful shepherds of Ezekiel 34, He demonstrated that, unlike false shepherds past and present, He was the supremely good and faithful shepherd. In a dizzying array of metaphors, Jesus claimed to enter by the door, serve as door for the sheep, and save and safeguard them by laying down His life and taking it up again. He left His audience with a stark choice: Either He was who He said He was, or He was a lunatic!
Resurrection and Life. In chapter 11 Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and proclaimed, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die" (11:25, 26). In restoring physical life to Lazarus, Jesus demonstrated His power and authority to give eternal life to His followers, a claim that would receive final proof at His own resurrection from the dead. Jesus is the life-giver because Jesus is resurrection and life itself.
True Vine. Jesus announced, "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser" (15:1). The grapevine was a powerful symbol for Jewish people. They believed they were God's vine, often forgetting that many Old Testament references to their being a vine describe their wild and wicked ways! In Jesus' effort to show how He was the fulfillment of all things, He asserted that He was the True Vine. As such, He provided the connection point between God and humanity. By abiding in Him, people find the only source of life, power, good fruit, holiness, and love. Those who don't abide in Him can expect only fiery judgment.
Identity in relationship to the Father
Jesus' words about His origin, destiny, and role often left people asking, "Who does He think He is?" The answer to this question is one that John sought to answer in the opening words of his Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (1:1). This mind-bending sentence conveys the mystery of Jesus, the one who is at once God incarnate and yet relates to God in a way that is somehow like a Father and Son.
Jesus frequently referred to God as His Father but also made the incredible assertion that He was one with Him (10:30). The monotheistic Jews understood that Jesus was professing to be the one true God (vv. 31-33), an accusation He did not deny. If there was any doubt about Jesus making this claim, He put it to rest when He said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am" (8:58). Here Christ declared His pre-incarnate existence and took upon Himself the name "I Am." The "I am" phrase Jesus used (Greek, ego eimi) was the same used by Yahweh to share His name with Moses (Exodus 3:14) and claim to be the only creator and redeemer of Israel (Isaiah 43:10, 11; 44:8, 24; 45:5,6, 18, 21-23; 46:5, 9).
Those who could not accept that Jesus was the incarnate I AM conspired against and killed Him. But Jesus rose from the dead, and those who did not believe in Him fell under eternal condemnation (John 3:18,19). Those who did believe, beginning with Thomas after the Resurrection, proclaimed that Jesus was "My
Lord and my God!" (20:28). This is precisely what Jesus predicted — that the world would know that He was I AM (8:28) after His death. Those who refused to believe would die in their sins (v. 24).
By God's grace, the Church of God has come to embrace Jesus for who He claimed to be. We affirm that He is the one who was with God and was God but became flesh, dwelling among us in the person of Jesus Christ (1:1,14). We receive Jesus' blessing by proclaiming that Jesus is our Lord and God (20:29). We embrace Him as our True Vine, our Resurrection and Life, the Light of our World, our Living Bread. He is our way, our truth, and our life — the Great I AM! !
Israel Steinmetz serves as Director of Academic Affairs for Life-Spring School of Theology. Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible.
(FOR ABOUT 150 YEARS THE CHURCH OF GOD, SEVENTH DAY, DENVER, DID NOT TEACH WHAT THEY ARE NOW TEACHING. THEY CAME TO SEE THE ERROR THEY WERE IN. WELL GOOD FOR THEM ON THIS POINT - Keith Hunt)
GOD: HOW MUCH LIKE JESUS?
Occasionally two men, twenty-five years apart in age, look like twins — even talk and act like twins. They're really father and son.
That's how it was with Jesus and God. To the Colossians, Paul wrote, "He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God ..."(1:15). An image would be a likeness, a resemblance. Hebrews 1:3 is more explicit: Jesus "is the express image of His [God's] person...." That leans heavily toward everything about Jesus.
He is the image of the invisible God. Colossians 2:9 says, "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." That sounds like everything about Him was like the Father. John testified, "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). Jesus prayed, "And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was" (17:5). Father and Son shared not only the same "appearance" ("express image") but also the same glory!
What could be noted wherein they were different? Hebrews 2:17,18 suggests that Jesus was made flesh so that He could identify with what we mortals experience. As our high priest, He ever lives to make intercession to the Father for us. Yet Jesus himself explained that though we ask in His name, He doesn't need to convey our prayers to the Father because "the Father Himself loves [us]" (John 16:26, 27). And Matthew 6:32 states, "Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things." No one need tell the Father; He's omniscient — knows all. So it's reasonable to conclude God and Jesus are alike even in the matter of understanding feelings and experiences of humans.
Jesus said one day, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father ..." (14:9). From other texts we learn that only Jesus has seen the Father in visible form — with His eyes. But seen can also mean with the mind — "to perceive, know" (see Acts 8:23). Which did Jesus mean by seen in John 14:9? It really doesn't matter. That God and Jesus are like twins is the issue.
(I'VE SAID IT ELSEWHERE BUT I'LL SAY IT AGAIN. GOD THE FATHER AND JESUS - GOD THE SON. HAVE THE SAME LAST NAME - GOD! THEY ARE ALIKE IN EVERY WAY, THEY SHARE EVERYTHING. BUT IN AUTHORITY GOD THE FATHER IS SUPREME IN THE WHOLE UNIVERSE. JESUS SITS AT HIS RIGHT HAND, NOT ON TOP OF HIM, OR INSIDE HIM, OR ABOVE HIM, BUT ON HIS RIGHT HAND - MANY VERSES SO STATE, THE BOOK OF REVELATION MAKES IT ABUNDANTLY CLEAR IT IS SO. PAUL MADE IT VERY CLEAR IN 1 CORINTHIANS 11: 3. GOD THE FATHER HAS MADE IT CLEAR IN HIS WORD HOW YOU ARE TO KNOW AND UNDERSTAND THE "GODHEAD" - Keith Hunt)
Several scriptures lake us directly to our premise, that the Son of God existed before being born in Bethlehem.
Colossians 1:15-17, for example, tells us that Jesus created all things and is before all things: "For by Htm [Jesus] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together" (NASB).
By saying He created everything, the Bible affirms that Jesus necessarily existed before what He created. That's the front door approach, and the question is answered. Now we'll come in the back door. The roundabout route will teach us other things about Jesus.
It is recorded in Matthew 28:18 that Jesus said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (KJV). By saying all power "is given," Jesus revealed a relationship already current between Him and His Father. That it was not a new relationship is demonstrated by His creative work.
Who gave "all power" to Jesus? Nobody but God, His Father, can give such power to anyone. Such awesome power is illustrated in John 10:17, 18: "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father" (KJV).
Since God the Father is invisible (Colossians 1:15) and no man has ever seen Him (John 1:18; I John 4:12), we need to understand who the God of Israel was who was seen on Mount Sinai. "Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself" (Exodus 24:9,10, NASB). How can this be?
The answer appears in recognizing that Jesus really was before Abraham, as He said to the Jews: "Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58, KJV). The Bible gives an illustration of this fact in Genesis 18:1ff:
Now the Lord appeared to him [Abraham] by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them . . . (NASB).
Here the Lord "appeared to" Abraham. That means Abraham saw and talked with the Lord, a Hebrew word used only in reference to Christ or His Father, i.e., to Israel's God.
Just as Abraham encountered the pre-incarnate Christ by the oaks of Mamre, so did Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel "see" and eat with Him on Mount Sinai. Though His Father is invisible, the preexistent Son often appeared in human or angelic form.
— Roy Marrs
From the "BIBLE ADVOCATE" - March-April 2014 - a publication of the Church of God, Seventh Day, Denver, CO. USA
THIS IS A RELATIVELY SHORT STUDY PER SE. UNDER THIS SECTION ON MY WEBSITE, YOU WILL FIND A LOT MORE STUDIES PROVING WHO JESUS WAS, AND ALL ABOUT GOD, IN DETAIL AND DEPTH. THE GODHEAD WANTS YOU TO KNOW ABOUT THEM IN THE BASICS, WHAT THE HUMAN MIND CAN GRASPE AT THIS TIME IN THE HUMAN FLESH.
AND THE REASON AS TO WHY THEY CREATED MANKIND - WOW, THAT IS REVEALED ALSO; IT WILL BLOW YOU AWAY!
STUDY [NOT JUST READ] MY STUDY CALLED "A CHRISTIAN'S DESTINY" AND UNDERSTAND WHY YOU ARE HERE.