Names of Jesus Week Twenty-Six, Day One

The Name
In Jesus we have the richest, most vivid picture of God imaginable. No longer does God seem implacably remote, displeased with the world he has made. Instead, he bends toward us, sharing our weakness and shouldering our burdens. Through the perfect offering of his life he becomes our Way back to the Father. He is the True Vine in which we abide, bearing fruit for God's kingdom. He is the loving God who will never abandon us, but who will be present with us always, leading us to life eternal.

Key Scriptures
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.' " Exodus 3:13 - 14

"You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him [Jesus], "and you have seen Abraham!" "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" John 8:57 - 58

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Monday
His Name Revealed

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.' " Exodus 3:13 - 14

"I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death." At this the Jews exclaimed, "Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?" 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 keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad." "You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him, "and you have seen Abraham!" "I tell you the truth," 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. John 8:50 - 59

Lord, Jesus, you are our great covenant-keeping God, the One who was, who is, and who is to come. You are the Resurrection and the Life, the True Vine, the Way, the great I AM. Help us, O Lord, to abide in you, bearing fruit that will last through the power of your Spirit both now and forever. Amen.

Understanding the Name

When Moses first encountered God in the wilderness, in the figure of a burning bush, he asked God to reveal his name. But the reply he received seemed only to add to the mystery of who God is. Instead of describing himself as the Living God or the Almighty God or the Everlasting God or the Creator God, the Lord instructed Moses, saying, "This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.' " In fact, the name "i am " closely related to the four Hebrew consonants that make up the name Yahweh, the covenant name of God in the Old Testament. Though the exact meaning of this name is difficult to know with certainty, the Lord may have been revealing himself not only as the God who has always existed but also as the God who is always present with his people.

When Jesus was being attacked by the religious leaders who failed to recognize him as the Messiah, he shocked them not by claiming to be the Messiah but by identifying himself with Yahweh, saying: "Before Abraham was born, I am." Recognizing that Jesus was claiming to be divine, the scandalized religious leaders tried to stone him. In fact, John's Gospel contains several self-descriptions of Jesus introduced by the emphatic expression Ego Eimi (e-GO ay-MEE), "I AM."

I AM the bread of life. (6:35)
I AM the light of the world. (8:12)
Before Abraham was born, I AM. (8:58)
I AM the gate for the sheep. (10: 7)
I AM the good shepherd. (10:11)
I AM the resurrection and the life. (11:25)
I AM the way and the truth and the life. (14:6)
I AM the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. (15:1)

Jesus emphatically described himself as the "resurrection and the life," "the way and the truth and the life," and the "true vine." Each of these images has something important to reveal to us about the character and purpose of Jesus Christ.

Studying the Name

  1. Some scholars think that by saying "I am who I am" God was saying he would always be present with his people. How have you experienced God's faithful presence in your life?
  2. What do you think it means to keep Jesus' word, and why does Jesus link it with never seeing death?
  3. Why do you think the religious leaders responded to the "good news" as though it were "bad news"? 

For more from Ann Spangler, visit her blogspot on Christianity.com. Be sure to check out Ann's newest book, Praying the Attributes of God: A Daily Guide to Experiencing His Greatness.