February 6, 2007

"I AM who I AM. . ."

Every now and then Jesus takes me back to that afternoon almost forty years ago when He introduced Himself to me. I was searching for “what happens to the energy of me when I die” in response to my dad’s oft repeated physics lesson. He said that energy is neither created or destroyed, just changed to another form.

In looking for what form I might become, I was reading a book on reincarnation, wondering if that was it. The author of that book used a verse of Scripture, but I don’t remember what verse it was. I’d been reading the Bible also, without comprehension, so the significance of the verse didn’t matter at that point. All that mattered was how God used it.

When I read the Bible verse, the light in my living room changed, became softer yet brighter. At that moment, I knew that Jesus was God in the flesh, and that He had come to earth to die for my sin. In that revelation of Himself, I also knew that I was forgiven. From then, my life was changed.

Today I’m reading about the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane prior to His ‘trial’ and crucifixion. Judas and a detachment of soldiers approached him, and when He asked who they were seeking, “Jesus said to them, ‘I am He.’

While many modern translations of the Bible no longer bother with italics, they are often revealing. The King James version uses them to show that some words were not in the original text. In many cases, they are implied. In some cases, their omission is significant. This is one of those cases.

Jesus actually said, “I am.” In the mind of the Jews, this meant one thing; He was claiming deity. Back in the Old Testament when God encountered Moses at the burning bush and told him to deliver His people from bondage, He said to tell them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you” and added that they would ask His name, so He told him, “I AM WHO I AM . . . Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.”

This name became so sacred in the minds of the Jewish people that it was not spoken or written. The consonants from this Hebrew word are YHWH. Combined with the vowels from Adonai (which means Master or Lord), gave rise to the name “Jehovah” in English. In many Bibles, the word LORD is used for the Hebrew word YHWH, the word that shows the self-existence and eternal nature of God.

Jesus used it several times about Himself. This enraged the Jews and is the reason they wanted to kill Him. It is also the reason for the reaction of the soldiers who came to arrest Him. “Now when He said to them, ‘I am He,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.”

What else can anyone do in the presence of the Lord God but fall to the ground! Oh yes, they ‘recovered’ and arrested Him, no doubt denying what He had revealed, just as everyone else had denied Him, but I know one thing about that revelation. Once it happens, it becomes a fact in the mind that cannot really be denied. Judas knew, and that is why he hung himself. We have no record of what happened to those soldiers, but they knew it too; Jesus is God.

The same thing happened to Paul. He was on his way to Damascus to kill Christians when Jesus appeared and revealed His identity to him. When Paul later told King Agrippa in Acts 26 of this encounter, he said, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision . . . .”

Once Jesus reveals who He is, those who know it cannot shake it. We must do something, and what we do determines our eternal destiny. Either the I AM becomes our Lord and Master—or He becomes our Judge, forever.

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