Happy Father’s Day! I think the comedian Jim Gaffigan got it right when he said that there should be a Children’s song that is titled, “If you’re happy and you know it, keep it to yourself and let your dad sleep.”
I think my husband could relate to that even this morning!
Today we are going to try something. In a moment, I want you to turn to your neighbor and finish this statement… I am… You have 2 minutes.
So when I was in seminary, I was asked to answer this question in regards to my heritage. My knee jerk reaction was, I am Swedish Baptist. Now here’s the funny thing… I was not raised Baptist, I attended a non-denominational church as a child. And my family is not even a little Swedish, we are German, English and Prussian… My husband’s family is Swedish Baptist. I was serving in a Swedish Baptist Church and I had been immersed in the Swedish Baptist community… I think that this says something about me. I had to go back and explain, really, I’m not Swedish Baptist at all…
I am. It is a simple statement. But so profound. I am… it speaks to life itself. It speaks to eternity and time. In this moment, the moment the leads to the end days for Jesus, this moment when he is asked if he is Jesus of Nazareth, he simply says, “I am he.”
I want to take a moment to back up. The first time God was asked his name, was asked for an identity… was with Moses. If you remember, Moses was called by God to go and tell Pharaoh to let God’s people go, to release them from slavery. Moses was nervous, so he asked, whom shall I say is sending me. God responded, hayah – “I am.” This was the name that God gave himself. When we say God’s name, we say Yahweh, which is the same as saying, “He is.”
I am… God is the I am.
This is one of the most profound things God has ever done. First of all, God does not have another name, there is nothing bigger than existence. God did not give himself a name, because God is existence. I am, indicates being, reality, existence. God simply, ‘is.’ There is nothing bigger or greater. He is competition with no one. Other gods have names and jobs, God, Yahweh, simply is. Those other ‘gods’ aren’t even in his league.
I also love this statement; I am, because it has no beginning and no ending. I am is present tense. God is always in the presence. That’s huge. Think about that for a minute. God is always now. He was always, ‘now’ and will always be ‘now.’ God is eternal by definition. I am. So this is God. This is God the father, as we think about the trinity. God, all of God, is.
So this brings us to Jesus. This sermon series we are beginning this summer is looking at the identity of Jesus. Who is Jesus. We spend an awful lot of time at church, and have been for centuries by the way, talking about Jesus. There is no more controversial figure in history than Jesus. So why do we spend have we spent so much time studying, thinking about and following Jesus? Who is Jesus, really?
This is the central question. I want to offer that this is the most important question that anyone can ask, ever. It is the most important question in history, it is the most important question for all people in all the world. Who is Jesus, really?
I know that this may feel like an exaggeration… really, the most important question? But if Jesus is who he claims to be, if he is who the church says he is, than what could be more important? God came to earth to redeem humanity, redeem creation so that could participate in life with God instead of being separated from God forever by our own sin. If Jesus is who is said to be, than we have found the fountain of youth, Shangri-La, and the key to world peace in one person. If Jesus is who he is said to be, then heaven is for real. What could be more important?
So let’s think about this for a moment. If you wanted to know something about someone, the best place to go is always the source. So we are going to consider this question, Who is Jesus, by looking at who Jesus says he is. Who does Jesus say he is…
Over and over again, Jesus speaks in parables, but in today’s scripture Jesus is very direct. He asks the guards, who are you looking for, they respond that they are looking for Jesus of Nazareth. But something interesting happens, because when he responds, the guards drew back and fell to the ground.
So what did Jesus say? He said, “I am he.”
Remember Moses… whom shall I say sent me… and God says, “I am.” This statement became famous. Everyone knew this God of Israel, the Yahweh. When Jesus said, I am he, everyone knew what he was saying. He was saying. I am the one. I am God. I am. They drew back and fell down because they knew that Jesus was identifying himself with God. Jesus was not just some guy from Nazareth, he was the guy from Nazareth. He was the, I am.
I am he. Jesus is saying he is God. He is identifying with God. When asked about his identity, Jesus simply said, I am he. And the guards drew back and fell down. Jesus is the I am.
Jesus is the I am. Jesus is God. Jesus is existence itself. Jesus is eternal. This is who Jesus says he is.
God is not comparable to anyone, anything, any other god. Jesus is bigger than all else. This was all the guards needed to fall down on their faces.
So who do you say that Jesus is? Have you asked yourself this question? Who is Jesus? And what does it matter?
If Jesus was just another man, than he was crazy and none of it matters. You have nothing to lose if he was wrong. But if he was the I am, if he is who he says he is… than there is no more important question we can ask. Who is Jesus?
If Jesus is God, than what do we do with that?
When we answer this question, then the words of Jesus, the teachings of Jesus become important. Our own identity is shaped as followers of Jesus, of children of the I am.
If you have not answered this question for yourself, or have questions about Jesus, after service today… once we have settled in for the fellowship time, I am going to be sitting at one of these tables. I challenged you to read Romans 1-8, which really has a lot do with this question. So join me, take a few minutes to sit with me. Or, discuss it with the people at your table as you sit, or over lunch.
Who is Jesus, really? And what does it matter? “I am he,” he said. Jesus is the I am. He life itself, time itself… all of existence is in him. Who do you say that he is?