Summary: Jesus reveals himself as the I AM of the Old Testament and gives the conditions and terms for salvation in His Name.
The Indisputable ‘I AM’ John 8: 21-31
In John 8:12 the LORD Jesus validates His own deity in identifying Himself as THE Light of the World that “whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” We saw the indispensable character of Jesus Christ in that, it is IN HIM alone that you have life by faith and apart from Him you cannot possibly have forgiveness and life. There are two conditions for man: Walking in darkness which will result in an existence in “outer darkness” (which is not a suburb of Heaven but everlasting separation from God’s presence), or walking in the Light of the Love and Grace of God in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today we pickup in John 8:21 (NKJV): “Then Jesus said to them again, "I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come." 22 So the Jews said, "Will He kill Himself, because He says, 'Where I go you cannot come'?" 23 And He said to them, "You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 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."
25 Then they said to Him, "Who are You?" And Jesus said to them, "Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning. 26 I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him."
27 They did not understand that He spoke to them of the Father. 28 Then Jesus said to them, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am (He), and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. 29 And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him." 30 As He spoke these words, many believed in Him. 31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.”
I want to look first of all at verses 21-24: here Jesus explains that His origin is not within the realm of man but from the realm of God. Jesus said in John 8:23: "You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.” The crowds had been discussing, “Where did this man come from.” They knew that He had grown up in Galilee and if they had done their research they would have found that He had actually been born in Bethlehem from the line of David as a fulfillment of the promised Messiah; but they refused to see that Jesus’ place of origin was beyond the realm of fallen and rebellious man. Jesus’ kept insisting that He came from the realm of God, not this creation, that He came from the realm of the Creator, NOT the creature, and as John had written in John 1:9-11, He was “the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.” Jesus was the Creator God not the creature.
But fallen man’s natural desire is to reject this Jesus. John 1:11 explained it this way: “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” “Receiving Jesus” is believing in all of Jesus’ claims about Himself, and without a spiritual birth from above, this is impossible to do…but it does not in any way negate who Jesus is and neither does it reduce man’s responsibility to believe in this Jesus. Jesus warned in verse 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." [We’ll look at the words “I am He” in a minute.]
It is extremely important to believe Jesus’ claims concerning Himself, as a matter of fact, believing in Christ’s deity is a matter of life and death. We studied this fact back in John 3:18-19: “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” But praise be to God, it is not without evidence that we are commanded to believe; the evidence is astounding, but man’s heart is indeed dark!