unknownAt the burning bush, when God spoke to Moses, telling him that He was sending him to the Israelites in Egypt to deliver them out of bondage, Moses asked God whom he shall say was sending him. God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14). In John chapter 8, John describes a scene where Jesus was responding to the Pharisee’s criticisms. They thought they had caught Him out when He told them that He had seen Abraham. He said:

56Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” 57“You are not yet fifty years old,” the Jews said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” 58“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds (John 8:56-59).

He didn’t say, “Before Abraham was born, I was”, or “before Abraham was, I already existed.” No, instead He deliberately used the same name translated into Greek, EGO AMI, the name by which God had revealed Himself to the Israelites, the Great I AM. Notice how they responded to this statement. They took up stones to stone Him for blasphemy, because He was claiming to be God. This is an important truth for us to understand because of the statement of Christ just a few verses earlier in John 8:24, where Jesus said: “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am (the one I claim to be), you will indeed die in your sins” (John 8:24). Notice that in most English translations, the wordsthe one I claim to beis in parenthesis. Why did the editors put those words in parenthesis? Because it is not in the original text!  It puts a different emphasis on the passage entirely, doesn’t it? Jesus is clearly saying that redemption comes only as we get a true picture of just who Jesus is—the Divine Son of God, the great I AM. Either way, Jesus’ meaning is clear. Eternal life hinges on an understanding of who He is.  The greatest truth we can start with is the fact that Christ is the great “I AM.” He is the way, the truth and the life.

Keith Thomas

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