The I Am Claims of Jesus, I Title: The Most Capacious Claim, Text: John 8: 24 & 58

Series: The I Am Claims of Jesus, I Title: The Most Capacious Claim, Text: John 8: 24 & 58


INTRODUCTION


We read in John 8:24 "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am [He], you will die in your sins." And in the same chapter verse 58 we read Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” “Most assuredly” could also be translated truly truly I tell you, so we see Jesus is insisting on the truth of this claim which He repeats twice. As you probably know, Jesus made many other claims. He said He was the bread of life, or the way, or the truth and so on. We shall look at all of the claims, so, why do I call this the most capacious claim? That means that it it is the most extensive and the most expansive claim and it subsumes all of the other claims. We are going to explore that as we consider, the meaning, the marvel, and the message.


I THE MEANING


This claim of Jesus is unique because it has no predicate. Some Bible translations have proposed a predicate such as I am “He.”  However that is not in the original statement. Jesus says simply, “I am.” The meaning must be in the Old Testament because Jesus says so in John 5:39, 46 and 47, You search the Scriptures and in them you think you have eternal life but they testify of Me.”…"If you believed Moses you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you don’t believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” This all hearkens back to Moses life and his record of his experience at the burning bush in Exodus. Moses is in the wilderness tending His Father-in-law, Jethro’s, flock and he sees a burning bush, and looks more closely. God speaks from the bush and commissions Moses as the leader to bring His suffering people out of Egyptian slavery. Moses is properly dismayed and asks God about His commission and God replies and we read in Exodus 3;13-14, Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’  Then what shall I tell them?” 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.’” The words “I am,” suddenly take on special meaning to our gentile ears. They identify the self existent God of the Bible. He needs nothing and no one, and he depends on nothing and no one outside Himself. He is the great “I am.” The New Testament identifies Jesus as God incarnate in many places and in diverse ways, but there is no greater affirmation of that fact than here. It is truly an extraordinary and life changing claim coming from Jesus. The Hebrew covenant name that identifies God in distinction from all false deities is Yahweh, sometimes voweled Jehovah. Since the Hebrew has no vowels, different pronunciations have developed historically. But, the point is that the Hebrew JHWH is a form of the verb “to be”. And so God chose to identify Himself as the self-existent God, or as Francis Schaeffer would have said, “The God who is there.”  The name means that there is no other God. The meaning here is clear to the Jews because they accuse Jesus of blasphemy. They pursued Him to death and they felt it was justified. To us it means that Jesus is the only true God, and that Christianity is the only true religion. Thus, in a pluralistic, politically correct society we should hold our ground. Christianity is the true religion and all others are false myths born of sinful depraved minds. And please remember that the name Jesus means in Hebrew “Jahweh saves.”


II THE MARVEL


How marvelous is this claim? Many hymn writers have chosen the vehicle of poetry to express their profound amazement at its magnificence. We don’t consider their words often enough, but when they are read rather than sung, they take on new meaning. For example ‘Christ Whose Glory Fills The Skies” by Charles Wesley, a familiar author but a less familiar hymn. Listen to the words which clearly celebrate Jesus as God. “Christ, whose glory fills the skies, Christ, the true and only Light, Sun of Righteousness, arise, triumph o'er the shade of night; Day-spring from on high, be near; Day-star, in my heart appear … Dark and cheerless is the morn unaccompanied by thee; joyless is the day's return till thy mercy's beams I see, till thy inward light impart, glad my eyes and warm my heart … Visit, then, this soul of mine, pierce the gloom of sin and grief; fill me, Radiancy divine, scatter all my unbelief; more and more thyself display, shining to the perfect day". And here is another little known hymn by a familiar author, Isaac Watts, who leaves no doubt as to the person of Jesus. “Bright king of glory, dreadful God! Our spirits bow before thy feet: To thee we lift an humble thought, And worship at thine awful seat. A thousand seraphs strong and bright Stand round the glorious Deity; But who, among those sons of light, Pretends comparison with thee? Yet there is One of human frame, Jesus, arrayed in flesh and blood, Thinks it no robbery to claim A full equality with God. Then let the name of Christ our King With equal honors be adored; His praise let every angel sing, And all the nations own the Lord." Here is a Moravian Hymn - “O Eternal Word, Jesus Christ, our Lord! While the hosts of heav'n adore you, we with awe fall down before you, and with rapture raise songs of love and praise. God and man indeed, comfort in all need, you became a Man of sorrows, to gain life eternal for us by your precious blood, Jesus, man and God. Holy is your name! Who can make this claim? Source of rest and consolation, life, and light, and full salvation; Son of God your name, none can make this claim. By your Spirit’s light teach me, Lord, aright, that I watch and pray with fervor, trusting you, my soul’s preserver; love unfeigned, O Lord, unto me afford.” Finally, there is a better known hymn, an ancient Latin hymn usually sung during the advent season. As is often the case we have probably sung it dozens of times without catching the many references to the deity of Jesus the God and man. “O come, O come, Immanuel, and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to you, O Israel. O come, O Wisdom from on high, who ordered all things mightily; to us the path of knowledge show and teach us in its ways to go. O come, O come, great Lord of might, who to your tribes on Sinai's height in ancient times did give the law in cloud and majesty and awe. O come, O Branch of Jesse's stem, unto your own and rescue them! From depths of hell your people save, and give them victory o'er the grave. O come, O Key of David, come and open wide our heavenly home. Make safe for us the heavenward road and bar the way to death's abode. O come, O Bright and Morning Star, and bring us comfort from afar! Dispel the shadows of the night and turn our darkness into light. O come, O King of nations, bind  in one the hearts of all mankind. Bid all our sad divisions cease and be yourself our King of Peace." In these hymns the authors celebrate Jesus as the one true God. He is the wisdom from on high, the king of the universe, the creator, the one who gave the law on Mt. Sinai, and in short everything that God is.


Iii THE MESSAGE

The message here is applicable to every area of our existence. The famous missionary C.T. Studd who gave his entire family fortune to missions, and became a missionary living by faith and serving the Lord on three continents, China, India, and Africa, eventually founding a mission now called Worldwide Evangelization Crusade said, “If Jesus Christ was God and died for me, then no sacrifice I can make for Him is too much.” This includes martyrdom and suffering, and the loss of all things. Another well known missionary, William Borden was also born to significant wealth, but he is credited with the saying,“No reserves. No retreats. No regrets.” It was fulfilled in his life when he died in Egypt at a young age in preparation to go to China and minister to Muslims there. The most famous missionary of all, the Apostle Paul, affirms the deity of Jesus in Philippians, saying that one day every knee will bow at the mention of that name, and then he writes concerning himself in 3:7-11, But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Who do you say Jesus is? Jesus asked this same question of his disciples about what others thought of him and then asked what they thought of him. If you say that Jesus is God and you know that He is, then what are you willing to give up for, Him? The message is that we should examine our hearts with regard to our worship, giving, service, and  work. What is your attitude when you come to worship? Do you tithe and then consider how you can give more to the God who died for you? How much time of your service and labors is for Him? When you speak the name “Jesus,” are you overwhelmed by awe, and tempted to fall down and worship? Are you willing to go anywhere for Him?