THE BOLDNESS OF JESUS
Passage: John 8:58 "I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”
As an example, I remember going cliff diving with a group of friends in college. There were a wide range of options regarding the height of the jumps, and testosterone was definitely a factor in choosing launch points. I would like to think it was more from wisdom than fear that I decided to dive from reasonable heights. If someone backed down from a diving point on the canyon, his return to a lower height was called “the walk of shame” (you can probably detect that this story is a description of my experience, not a recommendation). Some friends who were experienced divers would stand at the top of the cliff and prepare to dive.
There was a buzz in the air because of their boldness. When Jesus spoke, I think there was a similar buzz as people contemplated the meaning of His words and actions. Early in my spiritual exploration, even though I studied the life of Jesus and was impressed, I still didn’t want to follow Him. I knew it was a major decision, and I didn’t want to make the commitment. I wanted to make sure that I felt like I could really trust Jesus.
It’s possible to know He is good, yet at the same time resist Him. How is admiring Jesus from a distance different than walking closely with Him? No person could simply persuade me to follow Jesus, but the decision came after spending time reflecting on His life, teaching, and love. God changed my heart, and I realized that nothing in my life could compare to Him and what He was offering. God is the source of all grace. Understanding grace begins with appreciating God.
In the book of Exodus, chapter 3 verse 14, God introduces Himself to Moses with the personal name, “I AM WHO I AM”. The Israelites know that the name “I AM” is God’s name, but a pious Jew, in reverence, would not even write out the full name. So when Jesus makes the statement that He existed before Abraham, He is telling the crowd that He is God. It would have been tempting to deny this fact to please the crowd, but the grace of Jesus is grounded in truth. Jesus was not created—He always existed!
Grace doesn’t water down the substance of the message of Jesus. There are seven additional times in the gospel of John that Jesus makes an “I AM” statement. Why does Jesus want everyone to know that He is fully human and fully God? Notice the everyday images Jesus uses in His descriptions of Himself as He invites us to get to know Him personally.
Here are the seven “I AM” statements from Jesus in John’s gospel:
1) “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” Read John 6:35.
2) “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Read John 8:12.
3) “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture.” Read John 10:9.
4) “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Read John 10:11.
5) “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Read John 11:25-26.
1) Which statement of Jesus do you think is the most difficult for people to accept today?
2) What do you learn about Jesus from each statement?
3) Which ‘I am’ statement is the most encouraging to hear in your life situation now?
4) What insights do you gain about Jesus from the imagery he uses?
John 1:1-14 - Jesus is God; and through Him all things were made.
Hebrews 13:8 - Jesus is reliable in an unreliable world.
1 Peter 2:1-12 - Jesus is good and wants to be the cornerstone of our lives.
Luke 4:14-21 - Jesus is spreading good news and proclaiming freedom.
Acts 9:1-31 - Christianity is about a very personal relationship with Jesus.
God, thank You for Your Son Jesus who gives constant grace and strength. Taking my focus off of myself and putting it on You is what I’m designed to do. I pray that my faith
in You will grow, Jesus, as I dwell on the truth about how good You really are. I want to bring You as much glory as possible. I have made the decision that You are my Savior, and I want to follow You. I pray this in Your name Lord. Amen.
For more from Pastor Jesse Bradley and Activate Media Ministries, visit www.activatelife.org