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The Great I AM
By David A. DePra
Nine times in the gospel of John Jesus says, “I am…….” These statements are familiar to most believers. He said:
I am the Way.
I am the Truth.
I am the Life.
I am the Resurrection.
I am the True Vine.
I am the Bread of Life.
I am the Door.
I am the Good Shepherd.
I am the Light.
There are also numerous other, “I am….,” statements in scripture, such as, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” etc. Each of these statements point out a particular dimension of the nature and character of Jesus Christ – but more specifically – points out how He relates to us. Thus, it is good and right that we see what Jesus is saying about Himself and what this means for us.
Having said that, however, there is another aspect of these, “I am,” statements that is easy to miss – and yet it is one that is every bit as important as the specific picture that Jesus uses to refer to Himself. It is embodied in those two words: I AM. “I am…,” means that whatever Jesus says about Himself is true right now in an ever present fashion. When Jesus says, “I am…,” He is describing what He is RIGHT NOW IN US -- in an immediate and eternal sense.
For example, when Christ says, “I am the Life,” He is not saying that someday I can be your life. Neither is He saying that if we obey, or grow enough, that someday He can be our life. No. “I AM the Life.” Indeed, Paul clearly states, “Christ who IS our life.” (Col. 3:4)
Read John 11 – the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Jesus waited until Lazarus had been dead four days to finally arrive on the scene. When He reminded Martha that Lazarus would rise again, Martha immediately confessed that yes, she knows her brother will rise in the resurrection – someday when everyone else also rises. The answer Jesus gives is revealing. He says, “I AM the resurrection and the life.” Then He proceeds to raise Lazarus from the dead. In other words, Jesus was illustrating that who He is for the believer is not merely for, “someday.” He IS who He IS right now. That will never change. And for believers today, He IS all that He said, “I AM,” right now IN each of us.
None of this will seem very important if all that Christ means to us in His, “I AM,” statements is to be an academic or theological figure. But once we realize that Christianity is, “Christ in us,” and that Jesus Christ is to be the source of all for the believer – not merely on paper or in theory, but really -- then we will realize that we must draw from Him all that He is – He must truly become our life for all things. Then when Jesus says, “I am…,” we will be able to say, “This is what Jesus Christ is to ME – in a living, practical, and dynamic way.”
Based Upon Grace
Each believer can turn to Christ immediately, and if we do, we will find that HE IS everything to us that He said when He said, “I AM.” This would be impossible if who Jesus is to us was in any way dependent upon who we are to Him. In that case, we would have to work our way into being good enough, or deserving, or would have to find a way to grow spiritually enough to be able to find Christ in those ways He describes Himself. But no. “I am…,” leaves us out of the picture. He didn’t say, “You are.” No. He said, “I AM.”
It is a great freedom to finally see this Truth. As Paul echoed, “Yet not I, but Christ.” Sure. He is the great I AM – right now for each believer in whom He dwells.
So many of us unwittingly, through ignorance and deception, continue to believe that God’s attitude towards us is the one we paste on Him. If we feel condemned, we believe that this is proof that God is condemning us. If we are afraid, we think God is one to be afraid of. It tends to come naturally for us to walk according to our emotional reactions – thinking they are indicators of God. No. Jesus said, “I AM.” In other words, nothing is based on us – our works, reactions, or emotions. All that matters is who Jesus Christ IS. And that is where our faith needs to be.
Have we yet discovered that Truth exists independent of everything about us? That Jesus Christ is OTHER THAN us – even when He dwells in us? That the real Truth about God is not found in us, through our reactions, or by our own efforts. No. Jesus Christ is the same – yesterday, today, and forever. He is the great I AM. And the Truth found in Him lies OUTSIDE of natural man.
It is because of the finished work of the Redemption, and the grace of God, that all of this is possible. Everything is based on Jesus Christ, the great I AM, rather than upon us. Everything is based on His grace. This is where God must bring us – to the end of trying to include ourselves in the statement by Jesus, “I AM.” We are not included in that statement. We simply believe and receive all that HE IS – and realize that right now Jesus is ever present and that He is, in His very person, all that He said HE IS in us.
Not a How-to
Note the contrast between Jesus saying, “I AM,” and the nonsense of US trying to DO. We cannot make Jesus Christ any better than He is, nor can we subtract from Him. He is the great I AM right now – to us and in us – and we can only realize Him if we simply turn by faith.
“How-to,” lists populate Christianity and always have. But Jesus Christ did not come to give us a list of principles to follow, or to start a movement, or to show us how to, “do church,” or to give us a better religion. He came to give us HIMSELF. Indeed, all that the Father has to give to humanity is found in His Son. Nothing God has for us is found outside of His Son. Do we have a need? Jesus says, “I AM.” Right now.
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