Summary: Jesus said He is "I AM" and the source of eternal life.
Who is Jesus Christ?
1. “I AM”
“You are not yet fifty years old,” the Jews said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (vv. 57-58).
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’” (Exodus 3:13-14).
What does “I AM” mean?
a. “I AM” (Yahweh/Jehovah/LORD) is the PERSONAL NAME of God.
God gave three answers to Moses’ question, “What shall I tell them [your name is]?”:
• God said, “I AM WHO I AM” (v. 14).
• God said, “This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (v. 14).
• God said, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD...has sent me to you’” (v. 15).
God’s three answers seem to imply that “I AM” equals “the LORD.” The NIV notes, “The Hebrew for LORD sounds like and may have been derived from the Hebrew for I AM.”
We don’t actually know how to pronounce the Hebrew word that has been translated “LORD.” Why not? (1) The Jews would never say this name (in an attempt to obey the third commandment). Instead, they would replace it with the word “adonai,” which means “my lord.” (2) When the Old Testament was copied, the scribes only wrote the four consonants of the name of God. The four letters, transliterated into English, are YHWH. (This is called the Tetragrammaton, which simply means “the four letters.”) The name may have been pronounced something like “Yahweh.” (The KJV sometimes translates the name of God as “Jehovah.”)
It’s unfortunate that we don’t know how to pronounce God’s name. When we read “LORD,” we think of a title. (My name is not pastor or father or husband. My name is Jonathan.) God’s name is not “LORD”; His name is “I AM,” Yahweh.
When Jesus said, “I am,” He was claiming to be the God of Israel. This is why the Jews wanted to kill him (v. 59). “Anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him” (Leviticus 24:16). The tragic irony: The Jews were trying to kill the One whose name they were trying to protect.
b. “I AM” reveals that Jesus/God is ETERNAL.
Jesus did not merely exist before Abraham (“I was”); He always existed before Abraham (“I am”). He is self-existent—His existence is not dependent on someone or something else; the existence of all things is dependent on Him.
c. “I AM” reveals that Jesus/God is FAITHFUL.
“I AM WHO I AM” may imply “who I am will never change; who I am is who I am.”
Illustration: “It is what it is,” voted by USA Today as the #1 sports cliché of 2004. The phrase means, “It happened. We can’t change it. We have to move on.” God is “I AM WHO I AM.” He can’t be changed.
God’s promises are unchangeable. He will remain faithful to His word. God kept the promise He gave to Abraham: the Messiah would be one of his descendents. (Jesus, who is God [John 1:1], became a man [John 1:14].)
“Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad” (v. 56).
Jesus probably was not referring to one specific “day” but to Abraham’s general joy in the fulfilling of the purposes of God through the Messiah, by which all nations on earth would receive blessing.
“…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3).
The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you” (Galatians 3:8).
“When you lift up [crucify] the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He...” (v. 28 NKJV).
In the NKJV, “He” is in italics, indicating that the word is not actually in the original Greek.
Through Abraham’s Descendent, Jesus, the world has been blessed. All are invited to receive forgiveness of sin and eternal life because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22:8).
So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided” (Genesis 22:14).