"I Am," It's More Than A Name
Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” — John 18:4-8
In context, remember Judas, Roman soldiers, and Religious Elite are coming after Jesus with a few hundred men with torches and swords. And upon arrival, there is this interchange between Jesus and the Inquisition. Yesterday, we looked at the two-fold question of Jesus: "Whom do you seek?" Today, I want to look at the two-fold proclamation of Jesus: “I am he.” You'll notice that he asks his question twice, but then he answers his question twice. The Greek translation contains only two words. A noun and a verb. "Ego eimi."
This short and powerful declaration was used by Jesus many times in the Gospel of John. Several times, he uses it to describe the nature of who he is. Here are some instances:
- John 6:35 — "I am the bread of life..."
- John 8:12 — "I am the light of the world."
- John 10:9 — "I am the door."
- John 10:11 — "I am the good shepherd."
- John 11:25 — "I am the resurrection and the life."
- John 14:6 — "I am the way, and the truth, and the life."
When Jesus uses the phrase "ego eimi" this way, he describes his nature. His satisfaction, direction, access, guidance, provision, and way.
But there are other times he uses the phrase "ego eimi" to proclaim not just the nature of his deity but that he is Self-Existing Deity in the flesh. Here are some instances:
- John 4:26 — "I who speak to you am he."
- John 8:24 - "Unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins."
- John 8:28 - "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he...'"
- John 8:58 - "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am."
In each of these, Jesus declares plainly that he is the ever-existing Lord, Savior, and Son, who eternally existed before even Abraham, the "father" of their faith.
In all these instances, Jesus merely explained to them who he was. In this double proclamation, they will experience the effect of the "Ego eimi." And when Jesus spoke it, we witness the effect.
When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
Note that both believers and unbelievers drew back and fell to the ground. Why? Because this time, Jesus does not use "ego eimi" to describe something about himself but who he is. Jesus declares the unspeakable name of God. "I am!"
While these men seek a mere mortal man (Jesus of Nazareth), they encounter Deity (The Great I Am). And we know they do because they do the opposite of what they have come to do. They draw back and fall before him.
As the prophet Isaiah declared from God in Isaiah 45:23:
By myself I have sworn;
from my mouth has gone out in righteousness
a word that shall not return:
"To me every knee shall bow,
every tongue shall swear allegiance."
- In this passage, Jesus uses the powerful phrase "I am he" to declare his true nature as the ever-existing Lord. How does this proclamation challenge your understanding of Jesus, particularly in his divinity?
- When the Inquisition encountered Jesus saying, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground. Reflect on the significance of this reaction. How does it illustrate the awe-inspiring nature of Jesus as "The Great I Am"?
DO THIS: Pause and praise the Lord's Divinity.
PRAY THIS: Jesus, as I reflect on your profound declaration, "I am he," may I humbly bow before your divine presence, recognizing your eternal nature and sovereignty in my life. Help me to seek you earnestly and follow your guidance as the way, the truth, and the life. Amen.
PLAY THIS: Your Name Is Power.
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