Ehyeh – I’m – Ann Spangler, Christianity.com Blogs
When Moses first met God in the desert, in the form of a burning bush, he asked God to reveal his name. But the answer he received just seemed to expand the mystery of who God is. Instead of referring to himself as the living God or the Almighty God or the Eternal God or the Creator God, the Lord instructed Moses, saying, “I am who I am. This is what you need to say to the people of Israel, “I am, sent me to you.” The Hebrew word for “I am” is Ehyeh (eh-YEH), which sounds like the word Yahweh, the name for God that appears in the next sentence. It is a name so sacred that many Jews still do not pronounce it today. Although the exact meaning of "I am who I am" is difficult to see with certainty, the Lord may have revealed Himself not only as the God who always existed, but also as the God who is always present with His people and who, in fact, launched them.
When Jesus was attacked by the religious leaders who did not recognize him as the Messiah, he shocked them not by claiming to be the Messiah but by identifying with Yahweh and saying, “Before Abraham was born, it was me. “Indeed, the Gospel of John contains several self-descriptions of Jesus introduced by the emphatic Greek expression Ego Eimi (e-GO ay-MEE)“ I am ”. Here are just a few:
I am the bread of life. (6:35)
I am the light of the world. (8:12)
Before Abraham was ever born, it was me. (8:58)
In Jesus we have the richest and most vivid image of God imaginable. God no longer seems relentlessly distant, dissatisfied with the world he created. Instead, he becomes one of us, sharing our weaknesses and bearing our burdens.
I pray to myself
If you built a time machine and then set the location to Jerusalem and the date to the 15th Tishri in the fall of the year nearly two thousand years ago, you would have found yourself in the middle of one of the worlds greatest parties.
When you arrived, your eyes would have seen a large, golden city illuminated by the harvest moon. But how could even the brightest moon make the city and the surrounding hills shine so brightly? As you enter the city gates, make your way through the crowd to discover the source of light. You are impressed by the four huge menorahs that rise above the temple's outer walls and flood the city with light. Once inside, you can hear people singing and laughing, trumpets exploding, flutes playing. And there is dancing. The city's leading men perform dramatic torch dances that will last all night.
Why is everyone so excited? What are they celebrating? If you've done your homework before traveling back in time, you'll find that you have landed in the middle of the Feast of Tabernacles, the most joyful festival in Israel. It is a time to thank God for the harvest. The lights and torches in the temple remind the partygoers of the pillar of fire that led their ancestors through the desert. The lights also remind them of the fire that came down to consume the offerings when Solomon dedicated his temple, including the Feast of Tabernacles, and the glory of the Lord filled him.
Now imagine that the seven-day festival is over. You are so taken with this light-filled experience that you cannot bring yourself to leave. The very next day you will be listening to a tense exchange. Some Pharisees speak to a young rabbi from Galilee. His name is Jesus. And here is what the rabbi says: I am the light of the world. Those who follow me will have a life full of light and never live in the dark. It's a breathtaking statement, especially right after the Feast of Tabernacles. You can see why the Pharisees are so angry. The conversation continues. There is talk of Abraham. And then you hear it, Jesus' shocking statement: "Before Abraham was ever born, it was me."
The people of Jesus' day knew exactly who he claimed to be. Some picked up stones to throw at him, while others became believers. Two thousand years later, we have a choice between rejecting his claims or embracing him as the great “I am”, the light of the world, who cannot overcome darkness.