I AM - Part 2

John Plunkett
July 28, 2012

Let us continue today in our Bible study series on Jesus' repeated use of the term “I AM,” especially as recorded in the apostle John's gospel account.  

In Part One, we learned that Jesus Christ was and is the One and only Messiah; also that He came in the name of God the Father; that He came from God the Father; that He came from above; that He came from heaven.

You might remember that before the conclusion of Part One, after having gone through four out of five sets of scriptures in which Jesus repeated “I AM Come,” we deferred the fifth “I AM Come” sub topic, because it was quite a lengthy three-part section and we were running out of time.

So let us begin with that one today:

I AM Come into the World:
i)  For judgment
ii) To Enlighten the blind
iii) To Blind those who think they can see

John 9:39:
And Jesus said, "For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind."

Last time we read repeatedly where Jesus came from.  He came from above, from heaven, from His Father’s Throne.  But where did He come to?  He clearly said, "I am come into this world."

But, as well as telling us where He came to, Jesus also tells us some reasons why He came into this world.  Firstly, He tells us, "For judgment I am come into this world."

At first reading, when He says that He came into this world for judgment, this might appear to be a contradiction of some other statements of His.  Just one chapter earlier, look what Jesus said:

John 8:15:
You judge after the flesh; I judge no man.

And then, just  few chapters later:

John 12:47:
And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.

What then?  Does the written Word of God contradict itself?  Does the personal Word of God – the Logos – the “I AM”– Jesus Christ; does He contradict Himself?  Of course not!  So, did Jesus come to judge; or didn’t He?  Well, yes He did!

John 5:22:
For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son.

Judgment has been given something of a " bad rap" in God's church in recent years.  The overall subject of judgment by Jesus, by Jesus’ brothers and sisters – you and me – is a huge subject of its own; so I need to defer it until another dedicated sermon – and one which I really do plan to give. 

But I am not trying side step the question here.  In considering whether or not Jesus came to judge the world, we need to remember two things:

First of all, in the scriptures there are at least three kinds of judgment: There is judging in a condemning way; there is judging as a judge judges; and there is judging as in the recognizing of the fruit of others – as in “By their fruits you shall know them” (Matthew 7:16-20).

The second aspect is the time aspect.  There is judging in the world today and there will be judging in the World Tomorrow.  Just as an example of this relative to Jesus Himself, please turn over to Luke 19, where we will see that Jesus certainly has been given the authority to judge:

Luke 19:
12:  He said therefore, "A certain nobleman
{representing Jesus Himself}
went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return...
Verse 22:  And he said unto him, 'Out of your own mouth will I judge you, you wicked servant.  You knew that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow.'"

This indicates that Jesus is going to judge in the World Tomorrow.  We will discuss this more in a future sermon; but let us continue with our "I AM" subject now.  I want to continue in the second part of John 9:39:

... that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.

Here, Jesus gives another two reasons for His coming: First of all, so that the spiritually blind (those called by the father, of course) might have their spiritual eyes opened.  Secondly, that those who think that they are enlightened, those who think that they are able to see spiritually or are supposed to be able to see spiritually – but really don’t – that those people might be blinded even more than they already are. 

Wow! Did Jesus really have the power to do this when He needed to do it?  Yes, He did:

Luke 24:13-16; 29-31:
And, behold, two of them went that same day…
{Wave Sheaf Sunday after Jesus’ tomb was found empty}... to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.  And they talked together of all these things which had happened.  And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus Himself drew near, and went with them.  But their eyes were holden that they should not know him...  But they constrained Him, saying, "Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.  And He went in to tarry with them.  And it came to pass, as He sat at meat with them, He took bread, and blessed it, and broke, and gave to them.  And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him; and He vanished out of their sight.

We know from other scriptures that Jesus opened the eyes of the physically blind.  God the Father and Jesus Christ have the power over physical eyesight, physical recognition and physical understanding; but also over spiritual eyesight, spiritual recognition and spiritual understanding.  They did then in 31AD and they do now in 2012AD.  Here is another example of their ability to open or close human understanding:

II Thessalonians 2:10-12:
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned...
{the Greek word "krino" can mean "judged" or "condemned"}... who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

What God is telling us here is that He will send a strong delusion upon the minds of those who refuse to receive and believe His truth; and also upon the minds of those who have His truth; but turn from it – so losing the love of God’s Truth. 

Again, God is also showing us here that He can open or close the eyes of spiritual understanding as He and Jesus deem fit.

This topic of spiritual eyesight and vision is a very important one; but again, because it is such a huge subject of its own, I don’t want to go too deeply into it at this time.  But without leaving the subject altogether, let us look at a couple more “I AM” scriptures that are very relevant to this topic of spiritual vision and light versus spiritual blindness and darkness:

John 12:46:
I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believes on me should not abide in darkness.

Clear vision in a time of darkness needs a bright light; and what brighter spiritual light could there be in our dark world than Jesus Christ Himself?

A couple more very relevant “I AM” scriptures here:

John 8:12:
Then spoke Jesus again unto them, saying, "I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."

Yes, Jesus Christ is the light of the world.

John 9:5:
As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

Jesus says that He was the Light of the world... as long as He was in the world.  But what if He left the world?  And He did leave the world, didn’t He?  Yes, He did.  In His wonderful prayer to His Father, He said, “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to you” (John 17:11).  Jesus went back to His Father and He was no more in the world, physically.  

So what about the time when Jesus would no longer be in the world physically?  Would He still be its light then?  Well yes, through His Holy Spirit; that certainly is true; and we'll discuss that in more detail later in this sermon.  But here is another point to consider in this same regard:

Matthew 5:14-16:
You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Jesus said this very early in His relationship with His disciples; but He is telling them right from the beginning that they, too, must become the light of the world.  And just how were they to do that?  By Him dwelling in them through His Holy Spirit (John 14:17-20; 15:4-11; 17:21; etc.).  And by extension this applies to you and me too (John 17:20).  This is just one of the many ways that we must emulate Jesus Christ in being the light to the world.

That’s it for Jesus’ “I AM Come” verses.  Let us now move on to another sub-topic.  We have read lots of “I AM Come” verses so far.  Now we will read some “I AM Going” verses:

I AM Going

John 7:34-36:
"You shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, there you cannot come."  Then said the Jews among themselves, "Where will He go, that we shall not find Him?  Will He go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?
   What manner of saying is this that He said, 'You shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, there you cannot come?'"

What manner of saying was it?  Jesus was saying that He was going to a humanly in accessible place.  Jesus was talking again here to a group of Jews in the Temple.  Some of them believed in Him; some of them did not.  They were confused by what he said to them.  Where was this place that He was going to where they could not follow?  Jesus had already given them the answer to this question back in verse 33; but either they had not been listening properly or He had closed their understanding:

Verse 33:  Then said Jesus unto them, "Yet a little while I am with you, and then I go unto Him that sent me."

He told them that He would soon be going back to the place of His origin, which we read all about in Part One of this series. He was going back to the One who had originally sent Him to earth – His Father.  He was going back to the heavenly throne of His Father.

We will now take a bit of a "curve."  We began our study in Part One with Jesus telling us part of who He was and who He is – just one of His roles as the Messiah.  Then we digressed into studying where He came from, why He came, and where He was going.  So now let us go back to looking at some other aspects of who Jesus was, who He is.  Let us look at some more of His roles both back then during the time of His human sojourn and what they are now.  The first sub-topic in this regard has two parts to it.  The double heading for this section is:

i)  I AM One that Bears Witness of Myself
ii) I AM a King 

John 8:18:
I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me bears witness of me.

This is a very interesting statement.  When we first read it, it looks like it might be another possible contradiction by Jesus.  Why?  Look what He said just three chapters earlier:

John 5:31:
If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.

Again, as we saw earlier, some statements from Jesus appear to contradict others.  But let us stay in John 5 and let us see how Jesus’ subsequent words clarify this and how they dovetail with what He said in John 8:18:

Verse 32:  There is another that bears witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesses of me is true.

Who is Jesus referring to here?  Who is the "another" and the "he" that bore witness to Him?  Is He perhaps referring to John the Baptist?  Let us continue:

Verse 33: You sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.

Well yes, John the Baptist certainly did bear witness of Jesus, His truth and His Light.  This is confirmed in other scriptures:

John 1:6-8, 15:
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.  He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light...  John bare witness of Him, and cried, saying, "This was He of whom I spoke, 'He that comes after me is preferred before me: for He was before me."

John 3:26:
And they came unto John, and said unto him, "Rabbi, he that was with you beyond Jordan, to whom you bore witness, behold, the same baptizes, and all men come to Him."

John the Baptist definitely did bear witness of Jesus.  In fact, it seems that He was famous for having done so.  But was John the Baptist the main one that Jesus was referring to as "another" in John 5:32?

John 5:34:
But I receive not testimony from man
{no, not even from John the Baptist!}: but these things I say, that you might be saved.

The Greek word for 'testimony' is 'marturia' and it is the same word as 'witness.'

Verse 35-37:  He {John the Baptist} was a burning and a shining light: and you were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.  But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father has given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father has sent me.  And the Father Himself, which has sent me, has borne witness of me...

So God the Father is the main "another" that Jesus was referring to back in verse 32.  Jesus repeats this over and over again that it was God the Father who bears witness of Him (Jesus).

But what else is Jesus telling us in these verses?  He is saying that, if it were only He Himself – the human Son of God – who was bearing witness of Himself, this would be insufficient.  Of course, we would tend to think that it would be more than sufficient because it was coming out of the mouth of Jesus Christ.  

All of these "bearing witness" scriptures confirm that, although the bearing of witness by John the Baptist and Jesus Himself certainly are important, the main thing we need to focus on in this particular regard is the bearing of witness of Jesus Christ by God the Father.  According to Jesus’ words, this is what makes all the difference.  Jesus’ witness and John the Baptist’s witness are backed up by the witness – the testimony – of God the Father.  You cannot get any higher testimony than that!

Another question comes to mind:  How did Jesus bear witness of Himself?”  He already told us the answer to this question in verse 36:

Verse 36:  But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father has given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father has sent me.

He repeats this in chapter 10:

John 10:25:
Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me."

What we are trying to get to in all of this whole sermon series is to get to know Jesus Christ better in order that we can worship Him more appropriately. Also in doing so, we will get to know God the Father better as well.

All the works that Jesus did in His Father’s name were the things that bore witness of Him.  Just His works alone?  Is that all?  Or is there anything else?  Yes, there is:

John 18:33, 36-37:
Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto Him, "Are you the King of the Jews?"...  Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."  Pilate therefore said unto Him, "Are you a king then?"  Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king.  To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.  Every one that is of the truth hears my voice."

Jesus brings up "bearing witness" again.  This is so obviously very important.  The truth is so important!  

Just as the Jews were trying to get Jesus to incriminate Himself according to their law by His stating that He was the Messiah, here we see Pontius Pilate trying to get Jesus to incriminate Himself according to Roman law by stating that He was a human king, which would have put Him in competition with Caesar.  Jesus had already told Pilate that Caesar had nothing to fear from Him; that His Kingdom was not of that time and not of that place.  Yes, He was a King.  Yes, He is a King.  Please keep it solidly in your mind that Jesus Christ certainly was and is a King.  Many other scriptures attest to this.  Yes, He does have a Kingdom; but not one of this world.  Rather, one of the main purposes of His first coming into this world was to bear witness to the truth.  Please note that, over and over again, we see this repetition and this link between bearing witness and the truth.

The Jews seemed very much aware of this dialogue between Jesus and Pontius Pilate on the subject of Him being a King and of His Kingdoms.  They apparently tried to use it to get their way with Pilate:

John 19:12:
And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release Him: but the Jews cried out, saying, "If you let this man go, you art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar."

This was a threat against Pontius Pilate; but the Jews' trickery later came back to sting them:

Verses 19, 21-22:  And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross.  And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.  Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, "Write not, 'The King of the Jews,' but that 'He said, "I am King of the Jews."'"  Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written."

We have seen that it is possible for people other than Jesus and God the Father to be able to bear witness to the truth.  Here we see Jesus empowering His disciples to be able to do so:

John 15:26:
But when the Comforter is come, which I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, it shall testify of me:

The Greek word for "testify" is "martureo" which can also mean "bear witness."

Verse 27:  And you also shall bear witness {martureo}, because you have been with me from the beginning.

We could go on and on with this sub-topic about bearing witness.  There is so much in God's Word about it.  The manner in which God inspired the apostle John to write this appears to be a miracle in itself.  However, we must move along into another two-part section which I think you will also find very interesting.  The heading for this section is:

i)  I AM (He)
ii) I AM the I AM

Here is a scripture that I'm sure you will be very familiar with.  Its time setting is just after the foot-washing ceremony at Jesus’ last Passover:

John 13:
18:  I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, 'He that eats bread with me has lifted up his heel against me.'
19:  Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, you may believe that I am

We will come back to this verse later and discuss it in more detail; but for now, I just want you to notice that, once again, the word “he” is in italics, meaning that it is not in the original Greek, but was added in by the translators.  What Jesus said is this: “Now I tell you before it come that when it has come to pass, you may believe that I AM.”

If we include the word “He,’ the sentence really does not make grammatical sense.  It could not be referring to "he that eats bread with me" or to "he that has lifted up his heel against me."  But "that... you may believe that “I AM” certainly does make sense, especially when we know who the "I AM" really is.

John 8:24:
"I said therefore unto you, that you shall die in your sins: for if you believe not that I am
[he], you shall die in your sins"...

If those Jews that He was talking to – and ultimately anyone else as well – do not believe that Jesus Christ was and is the “I AM,” they will die in their sins.  Why?  Because only the life of a perfect, sinless God Family Member can pay the death penalty for our sins.

Verse 28:  Then said Jesus unto them, "When you have lifted up the Son of man, then shall you know that I am [he], and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father has taught me, I speak these things."

Jesus foretold to those same Jews that, after they had crucified Him, they would know who He was  – that He was the "I AM."   Did this come to pass?  Yes, it did:

Matthew 27:54:
Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God."

Jesus' prophecy of John 8:28 came to pass right then and there.  As well as the centurion and his men, there was also a group of Jews on Golgotha on that Passover afternoon – including chief priests, scribes and elders (see verse 41).  After the astounding events that occurred at the instant of Jesus' death, they all knew of a certainty that He was the Son of God – the “I AM.” 

We might rightly wonder about those people who were there and saw what happened that day and also a couple of days later once they knew that Jesus had been resurrected.  Perhaps some of these Jews and Romans were included in the three thousand who were converted on the Feast of Pentecost seven weeks later (Acts 2:5-11).  It is amazing to me that all of them were not stirred to repentant action by what they saw there up on Golgotha on that Passover afternoon.  However, being aware of Satan's deceptive power, perhaps we should not be too surprised at this when we read about those who refuse to receive and love the truth being sent a strong delusion (II Thessalonians 2:9-12); and also when we read about the latter years of the Millennium when there will people who have lived in the awesome presence of the glorified Jesus Christ and His glorified brothers and sisters, but who will succumb to Satan’s temptations after he is temporarily freed from the bottomless pit (Revelation 20:7-9).

Let us look again at the last part of John 8:28:

... then shall you know that I am [he], and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father has taught me, I speak these things.

 The “I AM,” great though He was, did not claim all power and glory to Himself; but attributed everything He had to His wonderful Father (Greek 'Pater').  This is a wonderful example for you and me.  

The Jews, of course, contested Jesus’ frequent claim that He was the “I AM”; but He answered them with this astounding statement – one of my favourite verses with which we began this study last month:

John 8:58:
Jesus said unto them, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM."

This is amazing!  Long before Abraham was even born, Jesus existed as the Logos; the Word; the great “I AM.”  

The Jews knew exactly what He was saying, who he was referring to, and who He was claiming to be.  Do we know who He was claiming to be?  Just who was this “I AM” who Jesus claimed to be?

Exodus 3:14:
And God said unto Moses, "I AM THAT I AM": and He said, "Thus shall you say unto the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me unto you.'"

Moses asked Him what His name was so that He could tell the Israelites when they asked him.  God (Hebrew Elohiym) told Moses that He was the “I AM.”

'I AM THAT I AM' is translated from the Hebrew repetition 'HAYAH HAYAH.'  It is interesting and perhaps significant that this English transliteration is a palindrome; it can be read backwards and forwards exactly the same.  Just the repeated word “HAYAH” itself is like something that is eternal; like something that has no beginning or end (Hebrews 7:3; Revelation 1:8; 21:6; 22:13).  It is something like a verbal miracle – a miracle of words.

Let’s take a few minutes, to examine this term “HAYAH.”  The word is very common and is used quite frequently throughout the Old Testament – actually 72 times.  In the King James Version, it is always translated into very, very basic English words.  There is nothing intrinsically holy about any of the words – whether Hebrew or English.  These are the words: 

Was, come to pass, came, has been, were, happened, become, pertained

As I list the extended meanings of the Hebrew word “HAYAH,” please apply them in your mind to the YHVH of the Old Testament and to the Jesus Christ of the New Testament.  Also, please remember that He – YHVH and Jesus Christ – does all of these things by Himself with no external aid – except, of course, in the case of the human Jesus who had the aid of God the Father.  As YHVH, He is able to do all of these things by Himself:  

To be, to become, to come to pass, to exist, to happen, to occur, to take place, to come about, to come into being, to arise, to appear, to come, to become like, to become instituted and to be established

This is in God’s Word in your Bible!  This is fantastic!  Amazing!  This is who the human Jesus Christ said that He was. 

Are these facts about the One who Moses came into contact with supported in the New Testament scriptures?  Yes they are!  Lots of scriptures actually; but we don’t have time to go into them all.  Here is one scripture that makes manifest the eternal "nature" of God the Father and of Jesus Christ.  Think about Moses at the burning bush.  John is writing here about exactly the same One:

John 1:1a:
In the beginning was the Word
{Greek: Logos}, and the Word was with God {Greek: Theos}

The name "God" mentioned here was God Family Member Number One – God the Father.

Verse 1b:  … and the Word was God.

This is God Family Member Number Two – the Logos – the “I AM” – Jesus Christ.

Verse 2:  The same was in the beginning with God.

Was this time – this "beginning" – before Abraham?   You bet it was!  It was way before Abraham!  It was the beginning of eternity!  There is no beginning to eternity; nor to God the Father or to Jesus Christ!

Verse 3:  All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.  In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.

Jesus Christ, when He came to earth, was the Creator.  He was the Joint-Creator with God the Father.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Verses 5-10:  And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.  There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.  He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.  That was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world.  He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.

With these mentions of "bearing witness" and of Jesus as the Light, we have come around in a big circle!  

The world was made by the two God Family Members: God the Father and Jesus.  Jesus – the YHWH of that time – was the actual "Doer" of the creation.  John wrote that "all things were made by Him." 

John 1:11, 14-15:
He came unto His own, and His own received Him not...  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.  John bore witness of him, and cried, saying, "This was He of whom I spoke, He that comes after me is preferred before me: for He was before me.

Interesting: “He was” is the past tense of “I AM.”  

"He was before me," said John the Baptist.  Of course He was!  He was... even before Abraham!  He was... in the very beginning!

Summary of Part 2

I find all this to be very exciting.  I hope that you do too.  I hope that, through this study, we can all come to know Jesus and His Father better – to better understand their "nature." 

In all of our worship of Jesus Christ, we must never, ever take our eyes from God the Father.  It is so important that we maintain respect and honour – as Jesus Himself did – for His Father - for "God Family Member Number One."  Jesus and His Father are not in competition with each other as to which of them is highest in rank in the God Family.  That is the kind of thing that Satan got into.  Jesus and His Father are not like that; they don’t do that; so we need to have total respect and honour for both of them. 

A summary for today’s points:

1. Jesus said that He came into this world for judgment, to enlighten the blind, and to blind those who think that they can see,
2. He said that He was going to a humanly inaccessible place,
3. He told us: "I AM one that bears witness of myself"
4. He told us: "I AM a King!"
5. He told us: "I AM the I AM"