In the two previous articles of Sharing the Word, we have seen the pre-incarnate Christ, Jehovah, the God of Israel presented as the ever living, ever self sustaining revealed member of the Godhead. He presented Himself as the I AM, the “ego eimi,” whose essence is eternal and unchanging.
Only in speaking of his humanity now glorified in heaven as the God-Man, did He use a verb in the past tense to speak of Himself. John records the direct revelation of Jesus Christ … “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades” (Rev 1:17-18 NIV).
The Apostle then is given a detailed glimpse into the future and commanded to write what we know as the Book of Revelation (of Jesus Christ). It would be consistent with the revelation of Christ to declare Himself “the First and the Last,” for He revealed Himself, the Creator God, in Genesis 1:1 with the phrase “in the beginning.” Then to Moses, from the burning bush, He said I AM. And as the Apostle John brings the Biblical text to its conclusion, the eternality of the Creator is still evident.
This theme runs throughout Scripture and is attested by Jesus on the road to Emmaus as He comforted and encouraged two of the disciples who were struggling with the events of the crucifixion and resurrection. “He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27 NIV).
No mystery existed in Scripture concerning the coming of God in the flesh to go to the Cross and redeem mankind from the bondage of sin. God had been faithful to make clear in His Word that the Christ must suffer and bear the sins of each individual, receiving the judgment demanded by a Righteous God. The penalty for sin was spiritual death, separation from God; that was the status of mankind from the moment of physical birth. But God who is rich in mercy had a remedy for man’s dilemma. The I AM would enter the human race as the Justifier of God’s holiness ... “and [all] are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him [Jesus Christ] as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood” (Rom 3:24-25 NIV).
Leaving no room to excuse man’s unbelief in His Person, Jesus presented Himself as the I AM: 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob' (“Matt 22:32a NIV). To the crowds by the lake “Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life” (John 6:35a NIV). At another time …when Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, "I am the light of the world” (John 8:12 NIV). John records other messages in which Jesus said … “I am the light of the world (John 9:5b NIV) … “I am the gate” (John 10:9 NIV) … “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11,14 NIV) … “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25 NIV), and … “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NIV). Therefore, to the religious leader of the Jews, there could only be one truthful response when … “the high priest asked him, "are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?" "I AM," said Jesus” (Mark 14:61b-62 NIV).