Mary’s Christmas Story...Part 2 A Bible Study by Jack Kelley The angel said to me,…
Jesus: I AM.
By Dr. Mike Murphy
“I thought these eyes had seen everything. That these ears had heard all they could ever hear. I heard the words He spoke at the pool of Bethesda, and I watched in amazement as a man who could not walk for thirty-eight years got on his feet. On a hillside near Capernaum, I listened as the words He spoke took away the pride and deception of so many hearts. And as I looked in the eyes of the crowd that day, I watched in amazement as those same hearts were filled with a loving faith. I watched as a man wrecked with leprosy fell at His feet, and I heard his words of praise as he walked away without one sore. I watched as a Roman officer bowed to my King, and I heard a faith from that officer that was greater than that of any man. I watched as the tears of a widow in Nain filled the ground for her only son who had just died. And I heard the shouts of joy as that young boy sat up and talked to his mom again. I watched as the sea began to rise and as the waves began to pound the boat we found ourselves in. I saw the fears of those around me, and I heard the desperation in their voice. I then watched as He calmly stood, and I listened to the storm calm as soon as He spoke.”
“I watched as He fed thousands with nothing more than a small boy would have to eat. And I listened to the fullness of that crowd as they ate until they could eat no more. I watched as His feet stood where no man could stand, and I heard as His voice called to me, bringing me out of the boat to join Him. I watched as He drove out demons, and I heard their screams at the sound of His voice. I watched as the blind were made to see, and I heard as the hardest of hearts were made to believe. I have seen and heard it all, or so I thought. But with just two words, He proved me wrong. I watched Him speak those two words, and with all I heard, I knew this world would never be the same.”
As Christ taught in the temple courts that day, my mind will only allow me to begin to imagine what the disciples must of heard and seen. The emotions that filled them and the reality that must have overwhelmed them. It was a day unlike any other they had been a part of. As Jesus was teaching that morning, they watched as religious leaders tried to set a trap for Him. They brought a woman who had been caught in adultery to Jesus, looking to trick Him into saying something they could use against Him. They brought the woman to His feet, but did not bring the man who was caught in the adultery with her. And as they threw the woman in front of Him, they knew they had violated the Law of Moses by not bringing forward two innocent witnesses to the adultery, as the law required. The disciples watched as the religious leaders brought forward the woman to simply gather ammunition they could use against Jesus. If Jesus refused to condemn the woman to be stoned, they would say He was ignoring the Law. And if He said to stone the woman, they knew He would be violating Roman law, which did not permit the Jews to carry out their own executions. But as the disciples watched, they heard Jesus turn the tables on the religious leaders, telling them that only He who was innocent of sin could judge sin. They watched as each dropped his stone, and walked away. They heard Jesus turn to the woman and asked her where those that condemned her now were. And as He spoke to her, they listened as His words did not end there, telling her to go and sin no more. They saw One with the authority to forgive sin, and listened as the only One with the power to judge her, told her to turn from her sin and from the destruction sin was bringing to her life.
They then watched as He turned to the crowd, telling everyone who would listen that He was the Light of the world. The disciples looked into the eyes of many in that crowd, and saw those who thought Jesus was either a lunatic or a liar. But as their eyes came back to Christ, they heard Him give the crowd a third alternative, that He was telling the truth. They then watched that day as the hardened hearts of many melted away.
Later that day, they heard Jesus tell the crowd that those who followed Him would know the truth, and the truth would set them free. He went on to say, those that followed Him would have everlasting life, never would death hold a price over them. As many heard these words, they called Jesus a devil, possessed by a demon. The disciples could hear the yells from the crowd, proclaiming that every man would die, even Abraham and the prophets had faced death. They watched many in the crowd look at Jesus, and mockingly ask Him just who He thought He was. Christ’ reply left no doubt. It required no further questions, as it provided the answer to every question they could ever ask. The disciples watched as Jesus looked to the crowd and proclaimed, “Truly, truly, before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58). The disciples watched as many in the crowd picked up the same stones they had sought to kill the adulterous woman with earlier that day. They heard the cries for His death, and they knew that as Christ spoke those two words, their lives would never be the same.
With just two words, Christ changed the lives of each of the disciples. With just two words, Christ would write every page of history. With just two words, Christ would forever change this world. With just two words, Christ demanded an answer from everyone in the crowd that day. And with just two words, Christ would ask each of us the same question today. Is Christ who He proclaimed He was?
“Prin Abraam genesthai ego eimi”. These words in Greek literally say, “Before Abraham was existing, I AM”. The power of these words could never be duplicated, and they are words that could never be mistaken. These words do not say “I have been”, or “I was”, but carry the power that can only be found in the two words “I AM”. By using the words “I AM”, Jesus not only stated His timeless existence prior to Abraham, but spoke to His very nature. As Christ spoke these words, everyone that heard His voice that day knew exactly what He was saying, and they knew exactly what He was proclaiming.
To fully understand just what the crowd heard that day, we need to go back to a day that every Israelite studied and cherished. A day at the time of the Exodus, when Moses was speaking to God. In Exodus 3:13-15, Moses asked God what name he should tell the Jewish people had sent him to speak to them, basically asking God His name. God responds by saying, “I AM that I AM”. He told Moses to tell the people, “I AM has sent me to you”. God then goes on to explain further about His name, by telling Moses, “The Lord,the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob has sent me to you. This is my name forever, and this is my memorial from generation to generation”. In this God is not only proclaiming Himself as “I AM”, but also as “HE IS”.
It is from these verses that we get the name Yahweh (YHVH), the sacred, unspoken, and eternal name of the Lord. A name that not only proclaims His existence, but announces His presence. In Hebrew, a name carried meaning, and communicated something about the character of the one who had the name. In Yahweh, God proclaimed His infinite wisdom and sovereignty by revealing to mankind so much about Himself. The Lord tells us in His name that He has always been there, that He is with us now, and He will be present forever.
When the Israelites asked Jesus who He was that day, they had no doubt who He was proclaiming to be. He told them He was Yahweh, the One who was there when the world was formed, the One who stood in their presence that day, and the One who would still be here when this world would end. They knew that the One who stood in front of them, called Himself by a name no man was allowed to use, no man could ever proclaim. He claimed to be the Lord, standing among the crowd that day, right in their very presence. He was not a just a prophet, nor was he simply a healer. He was God! And when they looked into His eyes, they looked on the face of their Creator!
This was a defining statement, one that left no middle ground. Either Jesus was exactly who He said He was, or He had committed a sin so great, His own death would be required. In two words, Christ either brought a man to his knees, or He brought him to reach for the ground to find the nearest stone. As many of the Jewish leaders looked upon their Savior that day, they reached for the ground instead of falling on their knees. They looked into the eyes of the Lord, and did not recognize the characteristics of His face. They knew so little of Him, they no longer remembered Him. They had so little love for Him, they treated Him as a hated stranger, an enemy that had found His way into their midst.
John tells us just two chapters later, they would look on Him as a stranger again. John 10:30-33 says, “The Father and I are one. The Jewish leaders picked up rocks again to stone him to death. Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good deeds from the Father. For which one of them are you going to stone me? The Jewish leaders replied, “We are not going to stone you for a good deed but for blasphemy, because you, a man, are claiming to be God.” Both times they choose to pick up stones, after Jesus proclaimed to be our Lord. Both times they looked in the eyes of our Lord, and did not know Him. Both times, “I AM” stood in front of them, and they did not know Him by His name.
With every word He spoke, Jesus defined the words “I AM”. Several other times He would use those words, and each time He showed us a little more of the characteristics that made up His name. I AM the bread of life (John 6:35-51). I AM the Light of the world (John 8:12). I AM the door of the sheep(John 10:7-10). I AM the good shepherd (John 10:11-18). I AM the resurrection and the life (John 11:25-26). I AM the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). I AM the vine (John 15:1-11). With each “I AM”, His name became a little clearer, His voice became a little louder, and His purpose and plan became a lot more obvious. And as “I AM” walked among us, hope could be seen in His face, and hope could be felt in this world.
I AM. No more profound statement has ever been spoken. No more important words have ever been heard. With two words, Christ erased all doubts. With two words, Christ placed one question into the heart of all who heard His voice that day. The same question that fills each of our hearts to this very day. Was Christ who He said He was? And with this question, we have the same two options today that crowd faced so many years ago. Do we angrily reach to the ground to find the nearest stone? Or do we fall to our knees as we look into the eyes of our Savior? With each “I AM” the question is answered. With each “I AM” the lines in His face are defined a little more. With each “I AM” we realize that we are staring into the eyes of our Lord. I AM leaves us no doubt that HE IS!
Praying this day no stone is found in your hand.