The Great I Am

Jn 12:44-50
Jesus Came to Save the World
44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment — what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”  (ESVST)

In the last few posts (and many more) I’ve tried to “give you permission” to “see” God as Jesus.  That is why Jesus came to Earth and died and was raised again.  He reveals God in His life, death and resurrection.  Jesus is the good news of a loving God who saves us instead of destroying us.  He is a revelation of a God who dies on a cross instead of punishing His children.  He is a God who heals instead of making people sick.  He is a God who forgives instead of judging.  He is a God who reconciles instead of dividing.  He is a God who looks for sin to remove instead of counting sins for penal payment.  He is a God who lets mankind kill Him and doesn’t lift a finger in His defense.  He is a God who is rejected by His own people to the point of death and cries over their selfish insistence on human vengeance.  He is a God who reveals love in person instead of withholding love for the afterlife.  He is a God who choses to live in us instead of running from us.  He is a God who is so Holy and lovely and beautiful and amazing and powerful and awesome and gracious and merciful and pure and kind and playful and caring and understanding and so so so much more that He can wallow in our mud and not get dirty.  Instead He cleans us up with His glory.  He washes us with His goodness.  He prepares us for a wedding.  He supplies us with provision.  He grants us access.  He welcomes us into His Holy of Holies.  He waits with open arms.  He expects nothing from us and wants all of us.  He knows our foibles and missteps and hangups and hurts and says “I am here to make it better.”  He made us as we are and wants to show us WHO we are.  That is what Jesus reveals as our God and more.  He is not the angry God in our heads and in our religion.  That is a product of bad fruit ingestion.  It is time to put down our toxic judgment-salad and pick up a big loaf of God bread.  It is time to reject our lists and comparisons and debates and instead take a big bite of fruit of the tree of life.  It is time to step away from our stupid human pet tricks and embrace LIFE and TRUTH in the person of Jesus who is our God.

So I thought we should talk about how awesome God is as revealed in Jesus.  OK, you are laughing after the diatribe you just soaked in, but there is always more.  How about we take a look at The Great I Am” passages for a fresh revelation of God in Jesus?  It will be fun.

Jesus has a list.  There are probably more implicit and explicit but here are a few “I am” references by Jesus.  Remember Moses asked God “what should I tell them is your name?” and God responded with “I Am who I Am.”  Jesus expounds on the great “I am” for us so we can have some intimate insight into the nature of our Father.  Here is the list:

I am…

The bread from Heaven
The bread of life
The light
The shepherd
The door
The way
The truth
The life
The resurrection and the life
The vine

These are all big spotlights of revelation that can really open our eyes to see our loving Creator.  The best part is God meets us where we are so one may resonate with you more than another.  During your lifetime one passage may be your anchor over another.  This is what makes God so awesome and personal.  This is why religion is not so awesome and can be very destructive.  Jesus’ revelation of the Father for you should be a very personal experience.  You should find life in His anchors for you.  Trying to fit these “truths” into a used doctrinal sock could make you turn your nose from the smell.  So I encourage you to ponder the “I am” for yourself and use your mind of Christ to find Abba in the way He reveals Himself to you.  OK, enough pontificating.

All of these “I am” statements would have ruffled the feathers of the religious (and still do today).  Some of these images were very offensive to the religious leaders of the day.  For example the idea that the Messiah would be a shepherd, what?  Shepherds were not respected people in Israel.  We have these images of nice, peaceful, harp players on a hill watching the bleating sheep meander about the meadow.  The truth is they were stinky, often “less than respectable” people who were not invited to parties.  For Jesus to call Himself a shepherd and claim to be God would be shocking for anyone listening especially if they had a religious perspective of God.  So when Jesus says “I am” and “shepherd” in the same breath, He is showing us how different God really is compared to the images in their (and our) heads and books.

Other references carry the same shock value but also are offensive since they touch on “sacred” topics and references.  One of theses is the bread metaphor (John 6).

We don’t have the same perspective as these people.  Bread for them was a staple.  They would have eaten bread with every meal.  Many meals may have been bread only.  Jesus’ references to bread reminded them of the manna (what is it) in the wilderness.  It would bring back good and bad memories.  The manna was God’s provision to keep them alive but was also one of the things the Israelites complained about the most.  They loved it and hated it.  Just like Jesus, there were those who embraced Him and those who rejected Him.  Just like today there are those who love Him and those who don’t.

The bread was also a ceremonial thing.  They shewbread or bread of presence was one of the items you would see in the temple.  It was a “sacred” thing that was important to their religious activities.  Interesting that Jesus uses an example of when David ate this “sacred” bread because he was hungry.  Jesus was consuming religion and replacing it with Himself.  Jesus was breaking down the religious paradigms and erecting God truths.  Jesus was all the “religion” anyone needed.  He was all the grace anyone needed.  He was the all the mercy that anyone needed.  He is the source of sustenance and daily provision.

All those images and more are exciting to ponder.  How about one more and for me this is the most important one.

Jesus says this about Himself and the bread:

Jn 6:55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. (ESVST)

The word for true is this one in Greek:

Cognate: 227 alēthḗs (an adjective, derived from 1 /A “not” and 2990 /lanthánō, “unnoticed, concealed”) – true, as it accords with fact (reality), i.e. attested because tested – literally, “what can’t be hidden.” See 225 (alētheia).

[227 /alēthḗs (“what can’t be hidden”) stresses undeniable reality when something is fully tested, i.e. it will ultimately be shown to be fact (authentic).]

This is fun.  Jesus is saying that His flesh is truth bread or bread that reveals truth or His truth in bodily form or something like that.  When we see His life and His living expression (the WORD) as expressed in His ministry we see the “truth” of God.  Jesus said eternal life was knowing the true God.  When we ponder the truths of Jesus we are consuming the truth of God.  When Jesus say “don’t murder or hate or curse others,” He is revealing a God who doesn’t murder or hate or curse others.  When Jesus shows us how to forgive He is revealing a God who forgives.  When we see Jesus in the flesh on the cross we see a God who loves us so much that He lets us kill Him and He forgives us when we should be punished (in our minds).  We are consuming the truth of God’s nature in Jesus.  His flesh, His person, His life is our food.  When we are resting in His truths we are resting in His life.  We are abiding in Him.  We are consuming His truths and abiding in His life.  In a very practical way we see how good Jesus is and we see how good God is.  This revelation is like food to us.  We become what we eat.  Get it?

Likewise the blood is God’s promise.  He seals the “covenant (until death do us part)” with His blood.  He sheds His life source for our sake.  He shows us with His death that He means business.  He can’t lie or break the covenant because there was a death.  His blood is the signature on the bottom line.  He signs in both signature blocks, His and ours.  He takes on the responsibility of the covenant and we are saved.  He makes a guarantee that cannot be revoked.  All we do is receive His love and fall in love.  His blood is our evidence of His promises.  When we “drink” His blood we are reflecting on His promises.  We are “seeing” His truth of His nature to die for all humanity instead of punishing all humanity.  We are born again into these truths.  We are transformed by His sustenance.  We are fed by His true nature.  We abide in the truth of who God really is instead of a lie about who we think He is.  The lie came from bad fruit (bad food) and He replaces the lie with life from good fruit, Himself.

Notice in the definition of alēthḗs is the phrase “undeniable reality.”  I really like that.  These “I am” passages are God’s undeniable reality for us.  We don’t have to contrive some distorted image of God based on stories about ancient relationships.  Those are important stories for sure but they aren’t our undeniable reality.  Jesus is our undeniable reality.  We get to “eat” His truths of our Abba.  So I say we take a big bite of “The Great I Am” and come to know the one who designed us.  Then we can declare our own “I am” and step into what He has made us for.

Yay God!


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