‘I told you that you would die in your sins; unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.’ (John.8:24)
What we believe about Jesus is essential to our salvation. Unless we believe correctly we will die in our sins. Here Jesus declares, ‘I am he.’ Who is he? I AM is the name God gave to identify himself to Moses in Ex.3:14. We read further:
“‘Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.’ So the Jews said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.”
Here Jesus clearly claims to to have pre-existed Abraham. Not only so but, instead of saying, ‘before Abraham was, I was,’ he declares, ‘before Abraham was, I am.’ He uses the present tense to speak of his pre-Abrahamic existence. This indicates transcendence over time, an immortal existence that pre-dates time itself, that could only be true of God. The Greek is Egō eimi and is the same term God uses to identify himself to Moses (Ex.3:14)
So many times Jesus makes claims for himself that can only be true of God and uses this same term to describe himself, Egō eimi, I am…
John introduces Jesus with this emphatic declaration:
All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.’ (John 1:3)
If Jesus was less than God, a created being, then this plain statement would be a plain lie! There would be one thing that was made that was made without him; himself!
In Colossians we read:
‘He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by hi all things were created. in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.’
Several points come out here:
‘The Father judges no one, but has given all judgement to the Son, that all may honour the Son, just as they honour the Father. Whoever does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent him.’ (John 5:22-23)
What is it about Jesus that he should merit equal honour to the Father:
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’..and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him” (Matthew 2:1-2,11)
Right at his birth Jesus received worship from the wise.
When Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on water, he began to sink, “and cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.'” (Matthew 15:28-33)
Seeing Jesus’ Lordship over all creation, the disciples responded appropriately and worshipped him.
When the resurrected Jesus (the one who declared, ‘I lay down my life and I take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.’ John 10:17-18) when he appeared to the disciples and said ‘Greetings!’ ‘They came and took hold of his feet and worshipped him.’ (Matthew 28:9)
We began by saying that what we believe about Jesus is essential to our salvation. This is because he alone is the way to God:
“Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” (John.14:5-6)
Once a curtain stood between man and God (Exodus 26:33) barring access except through Levitical priests (Leviticus 16) Aaron alone represented Israel before God in the sanctuary (Numbers 17:5) and man’s own religion was rejected (Leviticus 10:1-3). But now Jesus is ‘the way’ and to reject, to fail to recognise, Jesus, the one who said ‘I am he’ as the way to God is to stand condemned already (John 3:18)
‘Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.’ (Hebrews 4:14-16)