I AM and Moses
God called Moses to act as his messenger to the Pharaoh of Egypt, the nation that had long oppressed and enslaved the Hebrew people. Moses was to be God’s representative to Pharaoh, demanding that Pharaoh let the people of God go free.
Amid Moses’ flurry of pathetic excuses for not serving as God’s messenger, Moses came up with one that elicited a profound response from God. Moses objected to God saying, essentially, “But when they ask, ‘Who sent you?’ what shall I tell them? What’s your name? Gods have to have names.”
God said to Moses, “I am that I am.” And he said, “You must say this to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.'”
– Exodus 3:14, NET
In this somewhat recondite statement, God has declared his absoluteness. “I exist. I am reality. I am self-existent, self-sufficient, all-sufficient, depending on no other.” Where humanity says, “By the grace of God I am what I am,” God merely says, “I AM.”
I AM in John
Jesus appropriated the declaration “I AM” to indirectly, yet unquestionably, declare his divinity. In the temple, mid-argument with the Jews, Jesus made the statement, “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad,”1 to which the Jews retorted, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”2 And it is here that Jesus dropped the hammer of divinity.
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
– John 8:58, ESV
There is no question but that Jesus was saying to these titanium-skulled Jews:
- “I am God.”
- “I am YWHW.”
- “I AM that I AM.”
The Jews knew exactly what Jesus was saying and, in response to the offense they took at it, they attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to stone Jesus as a blasphemer.
We know who Jesus is. He has made that unquestionably clear. Yet, there are seven statements in John’s gospel account wherein Jesus grants us even deeper insight into who and what he is. Take some time this week and reflect on the deeper beauty and meaning of these symbolic references Jesus applies to himself.
Jesus is Bread
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
– John 6:35, ESV
Jesus repeats this moments later:
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.
– John 6:51, ESV
Jesus is Light
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
– John 8:12, ESV
Jesus is Door/Gate
So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
– John 10:7-9, ESV
Jesus is Good Shepherd
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
– John 10:11, ESV
Jesus is Resurrection and Life
Jesus said to [Martha], “Your brother [Lazarus] will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
– John 11:23-26, ESV
Jesus is Way, Truth and Life
Jesus said to [Thomas], “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
– John 14:6, ESV
Jesus is True Vine
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.
– John 15:1, ESV
I AM as Bookends to the Bible
The concept of I AM, the self-asserting absoluteness of God, permeates scripture from Genesis to Revelation. In Genesis, Yahweh told Abraham, “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”3 At the other end of your Bible you find God saying it again, “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.“4
I want to close with a beautiful poem from my friend Wendy Macdonald. You can find more of Wendy’s writing and her stunning photography here: https://wendylmacdonald.com/
We may say, “Who am I
to accomplish such a feat?”
But we’d be wiser to say,
“I AM will go with me.”
We may say, “No, not me.
Choose someone else.”
But we’d be wiser to say,
“I AM will be my help.”
1. John 8:56
2. John 8:57
3. Genesis 15:1, ESV
4. Revelation 22:16, ESV