- Monday, 01 April 2019
From the Word
“Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM I AM.” John 8:58
The words quoted above are the culmination of a fascinating conversation between Jesus and the leaders of the Jews. They discuss true faith in God, and the substance of that faith. They relied on the fact that Abraham was their father, and that their covenant relationship with God was their obedience to the covenant God made with Abraham. Jesus was pointing them to the God of Abraham who was standing before them as the fulfilment of the covenant God made with Abraham.
They condemned Jesus as demonic for contradicting what they thought was true belief in God. Jesus calls them children of the devil for forsaking true belief in God. Such conversations go on today, as the religious of the world advance their teachings as the truth, and contradictory religious views as false. We Christians make our case alongside the rest. What is the truth?
When you boil down the teachings of all other religions in the world, you are left with a religion of Law that expects followers to produce their own righteousness by obedience. There are variations on the theme, but that is the basic premise of Satan’s teaching, since he is the author of all false religion.
Jesus tells them in our text the truth of God; that He rescued sinners by coming to earth to save them. This is the faith of Abraham. Jesus says that Abraham longed to see His day and saw it. Abraham clearly longed to see the salvation in which he trusted come to pass. But in what sense did he see it? He saw it foreshadowed in the event on Mt. Moriah, when God called him to sacrifice his son Isaac, then provided a ram as substitute. In that event Abraham foresaw what God would do when the Lamb of God took the sins of the world to the cross in our place.
We try to contemplate eternity after we die, since God has promised it is our future. But Jesus points us to the eternity before creation when He says that before Abraham was, “I AM I AM.” He is Yahweh, who has always been and always will be. The timeless God of all came in time, subjected himself to time, and made His time the “fullness of time” (see Galatians 4:4-7) to save us. To contemplate him as eternal, sovereign God of heaven and the universe is difficult, if not impossible. To contemplate Him as Savior who came, suffered, died, and rose to fulfill God’s promise of eternal salvation is not difficult at all. I AM I AM, the God of Abraham, is our deliverer. He died! He rose! He lives! Hallelujah!
- Tuesday, 26 February 2019
From the Word
“I Am I Am the Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John 8:12
Fear. Confusion. Loneliness. Anxiety. These are a few of the things we experience in the dark. These are also things we experience because of sin. Sin and darkness are linked throughout Scripture. While darkness with some light can be peaceful, darkness with no light is terrifying. The darkness of sin casts its shadow over the world in which we live. We see the darkness of sin lived out in the faces and the actions of those around us. We also participate in that we sin daily.
God, whose first creation was light (see Genesis 1), came as light into the world (see John 1:1-18). He said, “I Am I Am the Light of the world.” He came to shine the light of God’s grace into the darkness of sin. He brought about the darkest moment of human history when He bore the sins of the world, that we might be light in Him.
Now, by faith, we see, because the Light has lit up our lives. We see this sinful world for what it is. We see the pitfalls of sin, lit up by God’s Word. We see the futility of self-righteousness. Mostly we see the grace of God in the Light, Jesus. The Light warms us against the cold of sin. He lights our path through life, as well as our destination. He shows us love, defining it by His sacrifice for us. He brings us joy, seeing His blessings and rejoicing in them with a joy that will have no end. He gives us peace, dispelling the darkness and assuring us of sufficient grace as we walk the path in this world to eternity in heaven.
When temptation darkens our path, we have the light of Jesus. When evil intrudes, we have the light of Jesus. When disaster threatens, we have the light of Jesus. When death casts its shadow, we have the light of Jesus.
People constantly wonder why we Christians are the way we are. Why are we so accepting of the circumstances of life? Why are we so unafraid of the evil around us? Why do we celebrate a death? We’ve seen the Light. We walk in the Light. We are light in the Lord.
- Wednesday, 30 January 2019
From the Word
“I AM I AM the Bread of Life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the Bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.” John 6:48-50
Jesus had fed a huge crowd of people the previous day and now they have found Him wanting more. So He gives them more, but not what they came for. They came because they thought He would provide them food like God did for the children of Israel when he sent manna from heaven to feed them each day. They saw an opportunity to be relieved of bringing forth food from the ground through toil and sweat. They wanted him to provide for their daily bread in a wondrous and miraculous way, as He had done the day before.
What Jesus gave them, and gives us, is far more miraculous than multiplying fish and loaves to feed their bodies. He points out to them that their fathers ate the manna and died. He then promised them bread that would give them eternal life. The bread He gives is Him. He uses “I AM I AM” to show them that the true bread from heaven is God who took on flesh to feed us for eternal life with God. He came to take our sins, and to dress us in His righteousness so that we might live forever with God.
How do we get this bread? We get it when we interact with Him and receive His grace. People often wonder whether this bread is the Sacrament of the Altar. He is not speaking only of the Sacrament, but anytime we come in contact with God’s grace. We receive the Bread of Life when we hear God’s Word, most especially the Gospel of Jesus. It is the Gospel that makes us alive forever. So reception of the Word of Christ is reception of God’s grace; the Bread of Life. In Baptism we receive the blessings Jesus accomplished by His death and resurrection, thus we receive the Bread of Life. In the Sacrament we receive the very body and blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, thus we receive the Bread of Life. Jesus comes into our midst with His grace to bless us. We receive Him in Word and Sacrament, thus we receive the Bread of Life.
As we live each day, God grants our prayer for daily bread. He blesses us with food, and good stewardship to use it. We give Him thanks for this. But no matter how nourished we are by daily bread, it cannot give us eternal life. We invite the Bread of Life to be our guest as we eat our daily bread for He is eternal life.
- Sunday, 30 December 2018
From the Word
The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ). When He comes, He will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I AM I AM who is speaking to you.”
You may look at the above verse, look it up in your Bible, and conclude that something is wrong with my translation, since your Bible does not translate Jesus’ words in that way. You will not find a translation into English like the one above because it isn’t good English. It is, however, what the text says.
In the New Testament Jesus makes many “I AM” statements. Most of them are in John. The Hebrew name Yahweh (mostly translated “Lord”) means “I AM I AM.” Jesus uses this name many times. The Greek text uses two words, both meaning “I AM” to indicate what He says. So we have the Greek saying “I AM I AM” showing that Jesus is calling Himself Yahweh, the Lord who interacted with the Old Testament people, and promised to come and save them.
In John 4 Jesus is affirming that He is the promised Messiah, who is God the Lord. He is God. The woman is looking to know about the Messiah. He tells her that He is the Messiah, and that the Messiah is God her Savior.
Only God can be the deliverer of His people. Only the sinless God can bear the sins of all people for all time. So He did. Yahweh, the one who used Moses to deliver His people from Egypt, has come to earth to deliver everyone from sin, death, and hell. He is the redeemer of this sinful Samaritan woman. He is my Savior, and yours. He is my God, and yours.
During this year, we will look at I AM statements in the New Testament to learn about God the Savior who came to be our Savior. These lessons will be from His own mouth, mostly from the Gospel of John. We will learn about who Jesus is for us.
- Tuesday, 04 December 2018
From the Word
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11
I thought I would let you read an excerpt from Luther’s Christmas sermon 1530.
This is our theology, which we preach in order that we may understand what the angel wants. Mary bore the child, took it to her breast and nursed it, and the Father in heaven has his Son, lying in the manger and the mother’s lap. Why did God do all this? Why does Mary guard the child as a mother should? And reason answers: in order that we may make an idol of her, that honor may be paid to the mother. Mary becomes all this without her knowledge and consent, and all the songs and glory and honor are addressed to the mother. And yet the text does not sound forth the honor of the mother, for the angel says, “I bring to you good news of a great joy; for to you is born this day the Savior” [Luke 2:10–11]. I am to accept the child and his birth and forget the mother, as far as this is possible, although her part cannot be forgotten, for where there is a birth there must also be a mother. Nevertheless, we dare not put our faith in the mother but only in the fact that the child was born. And the angel desired that we should see nothing but the child which is born, just as the angels themselves, as though they were blind, saw nothing but the child born of the virgin, and desired that all created things should be as nothing compared with this child, that we should see nothing, be it harps, gold, goods, honor, power, and the like, which we would prefer before their message. For if I receive even the costliest and best in the world, it still does not have the name of Savior. And if the Turk were ten times stronger than he is, he could not for one moment save me from my infirmity, to say nothing of the peril of death, and even less from the smallest sin or from death itself. In my sin, my death, I must take leave of all created things. No, sun, moon, stars, all creatures, physicians, emperors, kings, wise men and potentates cannot help me. When I die I shall see nothing but black darkness, and yet that light, “To you is born this day the Savior” [Luke 2:11], remains in my eyes and fills all heaven and earth. The Savior will help me when all have forsaken me. And when the heavens and the stars and all creatures stare at me with horrible mien, I see nothing in heaven and earth but this child. So great should that light which declares that he is my Savior become in my eyes that I can say: Mary, you did not bear this child for yourself alone. The child is not yours; you did not bring him forth for yourself, but for me, even though you are his mother, even though you held him in your arms and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and picked him up and laid him down. But I have a greater honor than your honor as his mother. For your honor pertains to your motherhood of the body of the child, but my honor is this, that you have my treasure, so that I know none, neither men nor angels, who can help me except this child whom you, O Mary, hold in your arms. If a man could put out of his mind all that he is and has except this child, and if for him everything—money, goods, power, or honor—fades into darkness and he despises everything on earth compared with this child, so that heaven with its stars and earth with all its power and all its treasures becomes as nothing to him, that man would have the true gain and fruit of this message of the angel. And for us the time must come when suddenly all will be darkness and we shall know nothing but this message of the angel: “I bring to you good news of great joy; for to you is born this day the Savior” [Luke 2:10–11].
 Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 51: Sermons I. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 51, pp. 213–214). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.