John 8:54-59
Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 
 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word.  Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”  
“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”  At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

Exodus 3:13-14
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?”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.’”

Today we come to the shortest, but perhaps the most striking, of Jesus’ claims about himself.  His statement is also puzzling.  First, it’s bad grammar; you should say “I was,” not “I am.”  Second, his claim is preposterous; he says that Abraham looked forward to Jesus, but that he was around before Abraham was born.  And third, he says that the Father glorifies him.

The Jews first claim that Jesus is demon-possessed because he implies he is greater than Abraham and the prophets, all of whom died, and he says he will give eternal life.  Jesus tells them that, unlike them, he knows God the Father, and will not lie and say he doesn’t.  Furthermore, he claims Abraham saw him by faith.  Now the Jews think Jesus is crazy because he’s too young to have seen Abraham.  Jesus then makes his great claim, “I am,” and that’s when they start reaching for stones.

The Jews knew that anyone who blasphemed must be stoned (Leviticus 24:16).  But why did they think Jesus blasphemed?  In the passage from Exodus that we read today do you see how God identifies himself to Moses, the name that he gives himself?  He instructs Moses to tell the Israelites that I am has sent him.  When Jesus says, “I am,” the Jews immediately understood he was taking upon himself the great covenant name of God; he was in effect claiming to be the eternal covenant God!  Had anyone other than Jesus made that claim, the Jews would have been right to stone him.

C.S. Lewis wrote that a man who said the kind of things that Jesus said would be a lunatic or “the Devil of Hell,” or would in fact be who he claimed to be, the Son of God.  I pray that you believe and know that Jesus is exactly who he says he is, Lord and God, the great I am.

Do you see who that baby in the manger truly is?  Will you bow your knee before him whom earth and heaven adore?  May God bless you with his presence this Christmas, and may you receive and rejoice in the most wonderful gift of all, the Savior born of Mary!

You are the living Truth! 
All wisdom dwells in you, 
the source of every skill, 
the one eternal True! 
O great I AM! In you we rest, 
sure answer to our every quest.

(E. Margaret Clarkson)

Join all the glorious names
of wisdom, love, and power,
that ever mortals knew,
that angels ever bore:
all are too poor to speak his worth,
too poor to set my Savior forth.

(Isaac Watts)

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