““I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.” “Who are you?” they asked. “Just what I have been claiming all along,” Jesus replied.”
James T. Dennison Jr. Called my attention to a thought about the Gospel of John in his May 1992 article, The Structure of John’s Gospel The Present State of the Question (www.kerux.com/doc/0701A3.asp). This was that the centre of John’s Gospel is found in the passage John 8:12 through 12:50 and that it is centred upon the LORD Jesus Christ. I am with Dennison on the Christ Centred nature of John’s Gospel. I am still exploring questions about the overall structure of the book. His thesis is intriguing however and I find myself wanting to explore this question in future months. For the purposes of this devotional today I want to simply focus on that which John, as an evangelist, makes so abundantly clear here. He is demonstrating in his Gospel that Jesus of Nazareth is in fact the one who we find in the Scriptures as God with us. Here in these central chapters in the Gospel John begins to appeal to a wide variety of evidence in order to make his case. Between chapters six and fifteen John quotes Jesus making a series of seven “I Am” statements which point to Jesus as the fulfillment of the various types of Christ which we find in the Old Testament. Interspersed among these seven powerful identity statements John also quotes Jesus as using the term “I Am” as a means of identifying Himself as the One whose name means “I Am”, that is God Himself. In Exodus 3:14 we are given this Name for God, “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.”” Jesus makes use of that identification as He seeks to witness to the Pharisees and Scribes in John 8:24. They will die in their sins unless they believe that I Am.
Jesus is calling these leaders into a state of believing that an astounding truth has been revealed right in their presence. This truth calls them to a decision. It is this decision, or point of division that is being confronted in this passage of Scripture. Eternal forgiveness of sin is at stake. The only way to receive that forgiveness is by believing that the man Jesus standing before them was in fact the Living God who has revealed Himself first to them through His Word, and now in person. These leaders, as well as you and I are brought to this point of decision. The question which John repeats from the lips of the leaders is this, “Who are You?” This is the question which John forces us to ask Jesus as well. If eternal life is dependent on Him then we need to know who He is.
Two things are brought to our attention here. The first is that we are called to believe Him when He tells us that He is I Am. John points to this fact in the first chapter of his Gospel when he writes concerning John the Baptist that, “He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognise Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:7-13) This is a faith which dramatically reorients every part of our lives. It centres every part of the life we live upon the LORD Jesus Christ who is God with us, and who has come to redeem us through the cross.
The second thing that John points out to us here is that the answer that we give to this question will dramatically change us. God has come to us, and given His life as a ransom for us on the cross. Faith in Jesus as our redeemer gives us the forgiveness of sin. Faith in Him become as radical and complete commitment to Him. John calls it a receiving of Him in which we become born again.
The question is do you believe that Jesus is I Am?