The Great I Am

John 8:48–59

John 8 has taken us a few Sundays to get through and includes some high statements about who it is that’s talking to the group of Pharisees in the treasury of the temple.

The one of highest worth (Jesus) is about to bring His honor to the Father, to lay down His life for the ones the Father loves. There would be no greater gift ever, and no one else could make the gift He is about to bring.

Once God was done making all of creation and began to speak with His creation, His name changed in the Word to being the LORD God. He would be the one to close the garden of Eden but also the first to speak with the fallen couple and provide clothing for them.

Then the LORD appeared to Abraham and spoke with him and made great promises to him. The Jews talking with Jesus in the temple were a direct outcome of the promise; the LORD is a promise-keeper.

It would be hard to imagine, if you were a Jew in the temple, that they were talking with the same LORD who had clothed Adam and Eve personally, who spoke to Abraham, who descended to check on the Tower of Babel, who spoke to Noah and directed him, and who gave his personal Name, "I AM WHO I AM," to Moses, and who spoke words to all the prophets to record and share. And yet there was enough information for Moses, for Abraham, for the prophets to look forward to Christ and be saved—they saw the day of the LORD and were glad!

The Jews, though, as Christ stood in the temple, dishonored Christ the LORD, and the Word that pointed to himself, and took up stones. They claimed to be Abraham's children, but Abraham, unlike them, bowed when the Lord appeared to him and spoke.

Christ as LORD rebuked the Jews, stating that they were liars. Not just lying, but in their nature were being deceptive about who He was. This is an amazing insight from the omniscient LORD. They weren’t skeptics; they were liars. It's a rude awakening that, in our nature apart from Christ coming to us each personally, we might stay in that mode.

Instead, Christ walked out of the temple, having clearly spoken the truth to them. He was not willing to die by stoning, when a spear was destined for his side, to pay for a way out of our sin. He was getting ready to offer to all mankind his own blood and righteous clothing.

But for our faith, so we would believe, He gave us this chapter so we would know it is the LORD Himself who would be going to the cross for us. Indeed, standing in front of the Jews was the very substitute Abraham looked forward to—the LORD himself would provide a substitute—on the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.

He would himself provide Himself.

And providing Himself, He is showing us He is LORD—the relational, covenant-making and -keeping LORD, who now leads us as the Light of the world. He is the amazing, tall pillar of light that can be seen by looking by faith as Moses did. The correct response is bowing down and picking up our tents when He’s on the move, and here in John, He will be moving to the cross. He wants us to follow him there.

The LORD is still the pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day—in dark times a light, and in day still a visible presence and guide. Let’s bow and follow. This will be keeping His Word (John 1), like a prison guard, not letting escape who the LORD is, by honoring His word, His name, His person—Jesus is the LORD!