I AM, Part 5 by Larry W. Peebles November 3, 2017 17.42
My daughter has become quite successful in the Human Resources profession by being able to efficiently fill open employment positions for her clients. She is able to quickly look at a resume, and determine if there is a potential fit for the open position. If there is potential, a telephone interview will then reveal if this candidate should be recommended to the client for the position. If the client accepts her recommendation and conducts a face-to-face interview, a high percentage of her recommendations are ultimately hired for the position. A big reason for her success is the quality of the initial questions she asks the candidate in the phone interview, along with her ability to listen to the answer and pursue with instinctive and appropriate follow up questions. Her process is intended to dig into the basic question of who the candidate really is—what are their strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, etc. relative to the requirements for the position.
In this I AM series, we have been looking at the statements Jesus made regarding Himself—who He was/is, and His qualifications. I can only imagine the look on the HR interviewer’s face if he or she asked Jesus who He was—to tell something about Himself. The I AM statements we have studied thus far (Parts 1-4) are listed below, and they are not the average interview-type responses:
- I AM the bread of life. John 6:35.
- I AM the light of the world. John 8:12.
- I AM the gate/door. John 10:9.
- I AM the good shepherd. John 10:11.
- I AM the resurrection and the life. John 11:25-26.
- I AM the way and the truth and the life. John 14:6.
- I AM the true vine. John 15:1.
- I AM the Alpha (Beginning) and the Omega (End). Revelation 1:8 and 1:17-18, Revelation 21:6, and 22:13).
- I AM the Root and Offspring of David. Revelation 22:16.
- I AM the Bright Morning Star. Revelation 22:16.
These are some very weighty answers, but Jesus in the flesh was also Deity, and He had a big job to do while here on earth. He came to save the human race from sin’s death and destruction. This job required some unusual and divine qualifications. He could not just be a “star,” He was the bright Morning Star. He would not be a mere “leader”, He was the Way. He was more than “honest,” He was the Truth. He was above a “self-starter,” He was the Beginning and the End. He was better than a good “manager”, He was the good shepherd. His qualifications would leave the interviewer speechless. In Part 5 of this series, we will study more of these I AM statements.
I AM before Abraham was-
This might sound a bit tricky, but we begin with the background to the statement. In John Chapter 8, verse 48, the Jews had a dialogue with Jesus to find out more about Him, and they accused Jesus of having a demon (being possessed by a demon). The conversation became more intense when in verse 51 Jesus said- “Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word he shall never see death.” In verse 52, the Jews pointed out that Abraham was dead, and the prophets were dead (both assumed to be greater than Jesus), and therefore they felt justified in saying that Jesus was demon-possessed because of His statement. In verse 53 we read- “Are you greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus responded that the Jews did not know Him or His Father (God). Because the Jews claimed Abraham was their father, Jesus then said in verse 56- “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad.”
This had to really confuse the Jews. How could Abraham, who was born and died before Jesus, have possibly seen the day of Jesus’ coming on the earth and have been glad for it? Verse 57 says- “Then the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”’ Jesus concludes that part of the interview with this statement in verse 58- “Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’” The Jews were so infuriated they were ready to stone Him, but He slipped away through the crowd.
There was no doubt Abraham was the father (ancestor) of these people. God promised it in Genesis 12: 1-3- “The Lord said to Abram (later Abraham), ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’” As we discussed in Part 4 (I AM the Root and Offspring of David), Jesus’ human heritage also traced back through David and Abraham, all the way back to Adam.
When did Abraham “see Jesus…and was glad”? Genesis Chapter 14 tells of Abraham’s encounter with Melchizedek, king (jeru) of Salem (peace), or of Jerusalem (king of peace). He is also referred to as the “priest of God Most High”. Abraham honored this king and priest with a tithe from the spoils of battle, the first tithe in Scripture, and Melchizedek blessed him. In addition to this strong symbolism, Jesus is King and High Priest forever according to Hebrews Chapters 6 and 7, and is from “the order of Melchizedek”. Hebrews 7:3 says Melchizedek “had neither beginning of days nor end of life, but (was) made like the Son of God.” It was Melchizedek’s assistance in battle against five other kings that saved Abraham’s life. Abraham was very glad and grateful to meet this “Jesus”.
Abraham also met Jesus in Genesis Chapter 18. The Lord came with three angels to prophesy a child for Abraham and Sarah (v. 10), and to warn Abraham of the coming destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (v. 20-23). In this encounter Abraham bowed to the ground to honor the Lord (v. 2), called Him “Lord” (v. 3), washed His feet (v. 4), served Him bread (v. 6), and shed blood to serve Him meat (v. 7). The symbolism here is also strong, and again Abraham was glad and grateful to meet the Lord Jesus. He received the good news that a child would be born, and that his nephew Lot would be spared from the coming destruction. Jesus was not referring to a figurative meeting with Abraham, He was referring to an actual meeting.
Jesus was not disputing that Abraham was the father of this nation. He was pointing out that if the Jews knew Abraham as father without knowing Father God, they could not know Jesus, whom the Father sent. Further, if all their attention, admiration and pride focused on Abraham as being the greatest they would also miss Jesus, who was greater than Abraham. Jesus declared He was the I AM of Exodus Chapter 3, the eternal and almighty one who revealed himself to Moses. He was not just present at creation, He was the Creator (Colossians 1:16-17- “by Him all things were created…all things were created by Him and for Him…He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.”) He created all things, including Adam, and therefore was before Abraham. Though Abraham was great, Jesus was greater. The man Jesus standing before the Jews in flesh came after Abraham, but they did not recognize Him as the eternal Son of God who had always been.
It is I AM; do not be afraid-
Following the feeding of the five thousand in John Chapter 6, Jesus went onto the mountain to be alone. After dark, His disciples got into a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee to get to Capernaum. A great wind came up across the sea. After rowing over three miles in the rough waves, they saw Jesus walking on the sea, coming toward the boat. They were afraid. In verse 20, Jesus said – “It is I (I AM); do not be afraid.” (Amplified version.) They took Him into the boat, and immediately they were at the land where they were going. They were through the storm.
I have seen the lion in Africa on several occasions. This animal is so calm and self-assured. It is fearless, powerful and composed. The locals say its paw can break the back of a cape buffalo, and its jaws can crush its prey. How much more powerful and fearless is the Lion of Judah. Jesus is saying the “I AM” is with us, we do not need to be afraid. He will get in the boat with us in the midst of a storm.
Consider Isaiah 43: 1-4- “But now, thus says the Lord, who created you O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I AM the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior….you were precious in my sight, you have been honored, and I love you.”’
The Bible is full of examples where God tells us not to be afraid. Joshua was told this a number of times when the Israelites were ready to move into the Promised Land and conquer the inhabitants. The women who came to Jesus’ tomb were told not to be afraid. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, He appeared to the disciples and said “Peace be with you.” There is no need to worry or be afraid. The Eternal One, the one who conquered death, is on our side. In the Old Testament, He is the “Commander of the Armies of the Lord” (Joshua 5:13-15). He is powerful and fearless, yet He is the Prince of Peace. He goes before us in every storm and battle. Before he was anointed king, David wrote in Psalm 27:1- “The Lord is my light (I AM the light of the world) and my salvation (I AM the resurrection and the life) -of whom shall I be afraid?” (Inserts mine).
Isaiah 41:10 says- “Fear not, for I am (I AM) with you: Be not dismayed, for I am (I AM) your God. I will strengthen you, yes I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Inserts mine.)
Both of these I AM statements give us great insight into the omnipotent, eternal, and faithful Son of God who has always been involved in the affairs of mankind. Taken together with the ten I AM statements from the preceding parts to this series, we see deep into the divine character of Jesus. He is the literal center of the universe as its Creator, Sustainer, and absolute Focus. Everything and everyone is by Him and for Him. Yet with all the vastness of His creation, including the billions of people on this earth, He still comes for the one, you and me.