I AM VIDEO
Romans 12:1-2 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.
2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
And two verses of Scripture will jumpstart a series I will be preaching from now until Easter called “The Great I Am.” Here they are from Exodus 3:13-14: 13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”
The back story for Exodus 3 is that the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt. They had been crying out to God for deliverance. God appeared to a guy named Moses in a burning bush, literally, a bush that was on fire but didn’t burn up. It just kept burning. Moses went to the bush and God called to him from the fire and told him to take off his sandals because he was standing on holy ground. God told Moses He had seen the suffering of the Israelites and had heard their cries for deliverance and He was getting ready to execute a plan to free them from slavery and to take them to a wonderful land, a Promised Land, a good land where they could settle. He told Moses the plan would involve Moses as their spokesperson before Pharaoh. Moses wasn’t easily convinced that him being the spokesman was a good idea. He didn’t feel qualified for the job. God assured him that God would be with Moses as he negotiated for the Israelites to be released.
When Moses asked God just how he should break all of this to the Israelites and should they ask just who it is that has sent Moses to lead this freedom operation, God told Moses to tell them that the I AM had sent Moses to be the people’s helper.
I AM. Here is what we need to understand about this name for God, the I Am. It can have three meanings. It means, “I am, I will be, and I was being.” The name speaks of a continuous existence in the past, a present reality, and an ongoing future existence. In other words, it means what the writer of Revelation describes in 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8
God introduced Himself to Moses as the One who always was, who always is and who always would be. Let me just say that means that God is never outdated. He is never irrelevant! He is never disengaged or out of style. He was, He is, and He will always be!
He is the self-existent One. He is the uncreated One who has created all things. He needs nothing and no one to define Him. He simply is. There was never a time when God was not. He is the uncaused cause of every form of existence. Rather than tell Moses He was the uncaused cause of everything and was the Sovereign in charge of what was happening in the moment and would always be ruling and reigning over the future moments of time and eternity, He thought He would give Himself a nickname and to be short and sweet He called Himself the I Am!
Over the next few weeks we are going to examine seven I Am statements, seven times that Jesus drew on this Old Testament understanding of the God as the I Am when He spoke about Himself. There is no doubt that Jesus claimed to be God and was God and is God. Today we will look at two of those I Am statements.
The Great I Am as the Bread of Life-Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35
As we look at two passages here in John we will see that when Jesus makes statements about being the Bread of Life and about being the Light of the World, He was reconnecting His listeners with imagery that was part of their story as the Hebrew people. He used wilderness imagery in John 6, John 7, and in John 8 that should have reminded the Jewish people that who He was, He always is and always will be.
By calling Himself the Bread of Life, He was reminding the Israelites of a previous time when they had to depend upon God to supply bread in order for them to survive. Manna was given to the Jewish people after God freed them from Egyptian slavery and was part of their daily lives during their wanderings on the wilderness while they were on their way to the Promised Land. This sweet, bread-like substance would come from Heaven, literally out of the blue, and would fall to the ground every day. They were to pick up enough every day to eat. God was teaching them that He was their Source. He was their supply. Jesus was definitely pointing them to this manna imagery as He said in verse 33 that the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.
What God wants to help us understand this morning by using the imagery of bread is that Jesus is necessary. So, some of you low-carb and no-carb people are doing ok without bread this morning because you are being sustained in others ways. In the wilderness, it was manna or death. If they didn’t want to accept what God was providing, that was their choice, but they would die.
Hear me this morning, Jesus is necessary for eternal life. You don’t have to accept what God has provided for you in Jesus, but if you don’t, you suffer spiritual death and separation from God for eternity. Jesus is necessary. You won’t be saved without Jesus. It won’t matter what else you might try to satisfy the hunger in your soul that longs to be connected with your Creator. Until you try Jesus you will live hungry, spiritually speaking, and in a state of spiritual death.
Not only will you not be saved without Jesus, but you also won’t be satisfied without Jesus. Look again at verse 35: He who believes in me will never be thirsty. Isn’t it strange that Jesus calls Himself bread and says at the same time that He is a thirst quencher? Isn’t it odd that accepting the Living Bread can quench your thirst? Oh, there is some Living Water to wash it all down with for sure and that is described in John chapter 7, but what could Jesus be talking about when He says that by accepting this Living Bread we could have our thirst quenched? Just what is it that we are thirsty for, that we long for?
Don’t we want to know why we are here? Don’t we long to know our purpose? Don’t we want to experience contentment and happiness in life? Jesus, the Bread of Life, keeps us saturated with the presence of God and the purposes of God for our lives so that we don’t become thirsty for the wrong things, the things that will never satisfy. Once you truly taste and see that the Lord is good, once you truly submit your life to Jesus, your desire for the things of this world begins to wane and is replaced by a hunger for more and more of the things of God.
Ok, so Jesus is the Bread of Life. What is our response to that Great I Am statement? Look back at verse 35: He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
As I see it, if we are going to experience this Bread, we have to come to the table. He makes Himself available to us, but we have to choose to come to Him. People have shared reasons why they won’t come to Christ with me, but not one of them makes any good sense to me personally. To refuse to come is to remain spiritually dead. To refuse to come is to remain disconnected from your life’s purpose and satisfaction. To refuse to come is to miss out on all seven of the Great I Am statements and how they enhance our lives for the good. As I see it, there are no negatives for people who come to Jesus. He doesn’t ask anything from us that He first wouldn’t supply to us. I can’t find a drawback or reason to stay away from the table myself. Coming to the table to meet Christ will fill you up like nothing in this world can. In order to benefit from this Living Bread, we have to come to the table to eat of it.
Before Jesus declared Himself to be the Great I Am as the Bread of Life, He said in John 6:29: “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” Tie that verse directly to verse 35 as Jesus says that He who comes to Him won’t go hungry and He who believes in Him won’t be thirsty. So, we have to come to the table, and we simply have to believe in Jesus.
This step of believing in Jesus is emphasized here in chapter 6. In fact, if you have your Bibles with you, you may want to circle the word “believe” as it appears in many verses beginning with verse 29, then 35, 36, 40, 47, and 64. This passage is as much about belief as it is about bread.
Just what is it we are believing about Jesus, the Great I Am, the Bread of Life? We believe Jesus is God (John 1:1, 14). We believe He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins (I Corinthians 15:3; II Corinthians 5:21). We believe that Jesus’ sacrifice took care of our sin problem with God. (I John 2:2; John 14:6; Acts 4:12) We believe those things as Christians. However, tasting of the Living Bread, entering into a relationship with Jesus isn’t just knowledge of a set of facts. It is relying on those facts. It is demonstrating our trust in those facts.
Allow me to demonstrate it this way. I can look at this chair and observe that it is sturdy. I can surmise that it is probably strong enough to hold 1@# pounds. ? I can see that none of the legs are missing and that it appears to have been assembled correctly. I can even take comfort in the fact that others have sat in the church and it held them up just fine. That is intellectual faith or intellectual belief. It is only when I sit in the chair, however, that I am actually relying on the chair to hold my weight up off the ground.
Or how about this illustration? I am diabetic, and I love carbs. Anyone with me? Not even fair that Girl Scout cookies are sold and delivered during the time I am fasting sweets, right? Josh got to the box before I could celebrate my day off of fasting which is Sunday, but I digress. I am diabetic, so to try to minimize my sugar intake, I buy sugar free bread. I buy it because of its claims on the package to be better for me in my condition. I believe what the package says, and so I ingest the bread, I take it into my body. It is part of my life multiple times per week.
Listen, we are to believe in the Bread this morning. We are to be feeding on Jesus daily, if you will. We must fully rely on Christ to cover our sin and to keep us safe in the arms of our Heavenly Father by following Him and trusting Him to provide what we need every day. If you only ate once a week, you wouldn’t be very strong. You wouldn’t be able to think clearly. You wouldn’t be able to perform tasks with certainty. Why would we think that just attending church once a week or connecting with God once a week would yield the results we hope to see in our lives? Don’t we get hungry every day? Multiple times a day? Jesus wants us to understand that He is the Great I Am who wants to sustain us moment by moment each and every day.
The second Great I Am statement we will address this morning comes from John 8:12:
The Great I Am as the Light of the World-John 8:12 12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Now, I mentioned that Jesus was dipping back into wilderness imagery to talk to people in John 6, 7, and 8. We saw Him connecting people’s memory to the manna in chapter six. We are skipping chapter seven where we see Him talking about Living Water which would remind listeners of the water that gushed from the rock when Moses struck it with his rod in Exodus 17. Now, here we are in chapter 8 where Jesus says of Himself, “John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
First of all, let me just point out that He said of Himself that He was THE light. He didn’t say He was “a light” as in one of many possible lights. He said He was it-the way out of darkness, the way for people to have the light of life themselves. There aren’t many ways out of the darkness. There aren’t many paths to God. There is one way, and it is through Jesus, the Light of the World.
(Step off the platform to light a candle)
Now, Jesus got criticized for calling Himself the Light of the World. John 8:13 The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.” Yep they caught Him. Look at this candle that I have just lit. No one has to testify that this candle is lit, right? We can see that this candle is lit. The candle testifies for itself, right? It doesn’t need someone to share the fact that it is illuminated unless . . . Unless you can’t see, right? The only people who can’t see a lit candle are people whose eyes are blind. The reason the Pharisees in this discourse couldn’t see Jesus as the Light of the World was because they were spiritually blind. Of course, Jesus could testify to being the Light of the World because light is self-testifying. Just something I thought I would toss in for fun.
Remember, we are connecting these images with the wilderness images. Let me remind you that during those wilderness moments, the Israelites experienced God as a pillar of fire. That pillar of fire represented at least three things about the Great I Am:
- The Light of Presence.
Moses knew God was making good on His promise to go with Moses and the Israelites as they journeyed to the Promised Land. As the pillar of fire led them, they all knew God was with them.
Jesus was saying He was the light of the world, the representation of the presence of God. He was and is Immanuel, God WITH us through the person of the Holy Spirit. He told His disciples in Matthew 28:20 that He was always with them. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us that the Great I Am will never leave us or forsake us, Hebrews 13:5.
The Great I Am is the omnipresent One. It is difficult for we who are restricted to one place at one time to grasp the concept that God is always everywhere. We are never alone. We do not have time for me to preach on the ways that God is with us this morning, but take comfort in Scriptures like this:
Don’t worry, because I am with you. Don’t be afraid, because I am your God. I will make you strong and will help you; I will support you with my right hand that saves you.… I am the Lord your God, who holds your right hand, and I tell you, “Don’t be afraid. I will help you.” Isaiah 41:10 and 13
God’s presence will ensure WE will be ok even when circumstances of life aren’t ok.
- The Light of Protection.
During the Exodus as the Israelites were fleeing Egypt and Pharaoh changed his mind about them leaving and send his army to recapture them, the fiery pillar that had been leading them went around behind them to get in between the nation of Israel and the approaching army. The Great I Am was pushing back the enemy on behalf of Israel!
God doesn’t protect us FROM every circumstance, but He will protect us in our circumstances if we will let Him be our light.
- The Light of Guidance.
As we follow the light of the Great I Am He will guide us. He will help us navigate. He will show us how to pace ourselves and teach us when to stop and rest. We just need to be good followers. The Great I Am knows the way. Look at John 8:12 again: Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Light and life go together. There is no life without light. We understand this from the simple process of photosynthesis. Light is fundamental to the development of plant life and other living, growing things. When God brought forth life out of chaos, it was with the words, “Let there be light.”
Jesus, the Light of the World, gives us the light of life as we follow Him. We get the light of life and light for life because we get Jesus, Himself. He abides in us when we accept Him as Savior. He shares His life with us.
Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.
You can stumble through life and just sort of make it up as you go, or you can be led through life by Jesus the Light of the World who will show you how to do it right.
If there is one thing I know, I don’t want to follow in the way of the world, and I don’t want to lean on my own understanding. I want to follow the Great I Am who knows the way I should go and who will illuminate my path in this life and in the life to come. There are things that can only be learned and understood as the Great I Am sheds light and revelation on our path. Apart from His leading in our lives, we are truly in the dark.
Jesus said He was the light of the world and whoever FOLLOWS him will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life. I want to ask you this morning: Are you FOLLOWING Jesus? Are you following the Great I Am? The One who is the Bread of Life and the Light of the world?
The Greek word for “follow” has five meanings. It can be used to talk about a soldier following his captain. It could be used to speak of a slave following his master. It could describe a person who is accepting of a wise counselor’s advice. It can refer to someone who gives their obedience to the laws of their city, state, or country. Finally, it can describe the person who follows a teacher’s line of argument.
As soldiers in the Lord’s army, as slaves who voluntarily serve the Master who has given His all to redeem us, as people who are limited in our ability to understand and discern truth, as citizens of heaven who seek to obey the commands of God’s Word and obey the leading of the Spirit and as students who desire to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, we can take courage and comfort in knowing that the One who lights our path is Jesus, the Great I Am, the Light of the World!
To encounter the Bread of Life we have to come to the table and believe. To encounter the Light of the World we must follow after Jesus. When we do we will be saved and satisfied. When we do we will have God’s presence, protection and guidance.
Come to Jesus. Believe on Him. Follow Him. That is what it means to experience Jesus, the Great I Am, the Bread of Life and the Light of the World.