Week Seven – blue plate special

Monday

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 3:14

“God’s Name: I AM”

Today, we will discover the greatest claim ever made!  But, before hand, we need some background.  The scene in Exodus 3 is God speaking to Moses from the burning bush that just won’t burn up.  God is telling Moses to go to Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of Egypt.  Moses says 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?” (Exodus 3:13).  God’s answer is recorded in our verse today, Exodus 3:14.  God told Moses to tell the Israelites that “I AM” has sent you.

“I AM.”  This is God’s personal name.  In the Hebrew language, “Yahweh” (Jehovah, Lord) is derived from the verb TO BE (I AM).  God told Moses to tell His people that His name is I AM.  Israelites from that time onward knew that “I AM”= GOD.

Now, for the greatest claim ever made.  We must turn to the Book of John (chapter 8) in the New Testament.  Jesus is engaged in conversation with the Pharisees, experts of the Law.  All Jews claimed Abraham as their father.  He is a focal point of this conversation.  Jesus says to them, “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”   (John 8:56).  This statement was incredibly gutsy in their minds.  Abraham lived 2000 years before Christ and He (Jesus) was claiming to have seen Abraham.

Now for the claim: “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I AM!”  This wasn’t bad grammar.  Jesus claimed to be the “I AM” and the Jews knew it.  What did they do?  They picked up stones to stone him because in their minds Jesus’ claim was blasphemy.  You see, Judaism is a fiercely monotheistic religion.  There is no room for Jehovah to be in heaven and for Jesus to be God as well!

The same thing happens a little while later.  “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30).  Again they pick up stones to stone Him.  Jesus claimed to be the ‘I AM’ – the most important claim in history.  In this set of devos, we will look at the other “I AM” statements by our Jesus.


Tuesday

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep…I am the gate, whoever enters through me will be saved.” John 10:7,9

“I AM the Light; I AM the Gate (Door)”

Jesus claimed to be the light of the world.  In the world there is darkness.  Sin is all around us.  People are busy fulfilling themselves at the expense of others.  God’s standards have been cast aside.  Families are fractured and children are left without parents.  There is poverty and war and drug abuse and alcoholism and on and on.  Why?  Because at the dawn of time the first man and the first woman wanted to set their own standards.  This is the truth of the “tree.”  They wanted to be like God and determine right and wrong.  Doesn’t that sound familiar?  Situational ethics: “What’s okay for me, may not be okay for you and vice versa.”

So Jesus comes into this world of darkness and claims to be a beacon of light – like a lighthouse on a dark, rocky shore except that He makes it like the day.  Jesus made many profound statements of truth, but He crystallized it down to two commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39).  Jesus lights the truth of God.  You cannot find God without Him.  He illumines the way.

Jesus also claimed to be the gate (or a door).  It is an odd claim unless you know about sheep in Israel.  You see, Israel is a rocky place.  Shepherds would gather their sheep at night in a group and make a sheepfold out of rock high enough that they could not escape.  In the opening (the door or gate), the shepherd would sleep at night –blocking the door.  The sheep would be protected at night and be led to pasture by day.  In the same way, Jesus is a door for us.  Through Him we have eternal protection and eternal nourishment.


Wednesday

“I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” John 10:11, 14

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.” John 11:25

“I AM the Good Shepherd; I AM the Resurrection and the Life”

Just after Jesus claimed to be the gate for the sheep, He said I AM the Good Shepherd.  When He made this claim, His audience would have immediately reflected back to the 23rd Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd.”  Again, He was claiming deity!  He was claiming to be the one who would protect His sheep.  Who are the sheep?  It’s us!  Look at the 23rd Psalm.  The Lord promises to be totally sufficient – “I shall not want.”  He promises to renew us in this “crazy” world we live in – “He restores my soul.”  He promises protection – “Even though I walk through the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”  He guarantees the eternity of Believers – “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  To claim to be the good shepherd is quite a claim.  But, that’s who Jesus is!  He is totally sufficient for the here and now.  He protects us even in death and carries us to eternity with the Father.  Jesus alludes to the cost of this in John 10:11 – “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”   The cost for Him was death on the Cross.

The next I AM is closely connected with this claim to be the “Good Shepherd.”  I AM the Resurrection and the Life.  If Jesus would have “stayed dead,” He would not have been any different than many martyrs who died before and after Him.  The Cross was pivotal because He took the “sin of the world” on Himself, without intervention by God the Father.  He died a horrible physical death – but was resurrected on the third day.  Dr. Luke, in the Book of Acts, tells us that Jesus proved that He was alive over a period of 40 days after the Resurrection (see Acts 1:3).

Jesus conquered death.  Believers will live with Him for eternity.  We do not need to fear physical death.  It does not have a claim on us.  Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life!


Thursday

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener…I am the vine and you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:1,5

“I AM the Only Way; I AM the True Vine”

Jesus tells us “I am the ONLY way.”  It is clear that there are not multiple ways to God.  It is only through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross that we are made right before God.  He is the perfect sacrifice.  “Whoever believes in Him has eternal life.” (John 3:16).  We live in an exciting era.  Current technology has allowed the translation of “The Jesus” movie into hundreds of languages.  This movie accurately portrays the life of Christ and His claims as Savior.  The movie is being shown all over the world.  Soon, there won’t be anywhere on the face of the earth that the name of Jesus is not known.

As an aside, we must claim God’s perfect love and justice when considering the fact that some people, prior to this time, could have lived their whole lives without ever hearing the name of Jesus.  Romans 1 says that God has always revealed Himself to man.  “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20).  Remember also that Abraham, the Patriarch, was not saved by the Law, but he believed in God and was therefore regarded righteous. (Genesis 15:6).

Jesus is also the true vine.  This vine is essential for nutrition.  We are the branches.  We cannot be right before God without Jesus.  We have to be “in the vine.”  We cannot be fruitful spiritually without the vine (Jesus).  “No branch can bear fruit by itself…” (John 15:4).


Friday

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35

“I AM the Bread of Life”

Jesus is the “Bread of Life.”  The Bread satisfies the deepest needs of our soul.  Nothing else fulfills that hunger.  The world struggles to fill that “God-shaped” void with everything else but Jesus Christ.  They reject the truth that Jesus is the only way.  But remember this: The only way into this physical world is through your mother.  The only way into the spiritual world with God is through Jesus Christ.  In short, JESUS IS OUR ALL IN ALL.

Jesus left us with a commandment to observe something we now call the Lord’s Supper. (see Luke 22:19-20).  When we eat the bread and drink of the cup, we not only honor His sacrifice on the Cross for us, but we identify with Him.  “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”  (Galatians 2:20).  When we ingest the bread and the cup, we symbolically “ingest Christ” – demonstrating Christ in us!

Therefore, with taking “Communion” there is responsibility to “Be holy as Jesus is holy.”  (1 Peter 1:15-16).  There’s the challenge.  Do we really want to identify with Jesus?  We say the words, but the challenge is the appropriate behavior.  We are called to be “living sacrifices,” holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1).  We are not to conform to the world (Romans 12:2).  Being a living sacrifice is painful!  When God perfects us, we often complain and whine.  “It hurts – it’s not fair.”  But the eternal rewards are great.

The next time you take Communion, consider your identity in Christ.  With this identification comes responsibility for holy behavior.  That’s what this spiritual life is all about – pleasing God.  The great “I AM” has given us everything we need to be successful.  He is the Light, the Door, the Good Shepherd, the Vine, the Only Way, and the Resurrection and the Life.  He’s awesome and His lovingkindness toward us never fails!

THEY WHO DIVE IN THE SEA OF AFFLICTION,  BRING UP RARE PEARLS: Charles Spurgeon