TODAY’S READING: ISAIAH 50-52
“‘Now therefore what have I here,’ declares the Lord, ‘seeing that my people are taken away for nothing? Their rulers wail,’ declares the Lord, ‘and continually all the day my name is despised. Therefore my people shall know my name. Therefore, in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here I am.” – Isaiah 52:5-6
Here again we come to the phrase “that day” in Isaiah. I have written about “that day” in That Day Sin Was Taken Away, That Day: The Preservation and Inheritance of Life, A Signal for the Peoples, and Egypt, Assyria, and Israel in That Day.
I mention this “that day” in Isaiah 52:6 because it stands apart. It is the only time Isaiah uses “that day” in the second half of the book, from chapters 40 to 66, which are of a different character than the first half and speak more directly to what the new creation that Jesus ushers in “that day.”
According to Isaiah, in “that day,” which I believe specifically refers to the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, God’s people will know his name, they will know that it is he who speaks, and they will know that it is God who speaks says, “Here I Am.”
When Moses was called by the Lord to lead Israel out of Egypt, he asked God what was his name in case Israel asked Moses this same question. Exodus 3:14 says, “God said to Moses, ‘I Am Who I Am.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel: “I Am has sent me to you.”‘”
It was actually the angel of the Lord that spoke to Moses from the burning bush. This appearance of the angel of the Lord, who declares, “I Am Who I Am,” is actually a picture of Jesus. See my post Jesus: I Am the Burning Bush.
Now, the Hebrew for “I Am” in Exodus 3:14 is not the same as the Hebrew for “I Am” in Isaiah 52:6. However, it seems to me that we should see the linkage between these two. Especially when we consider I Am in the light of John’s gospel, which is the gospel that reveals Jesus as the son of God.
John makes use of “I Am” in regards to Jesus repeatedly. The most direct and bold use is in John 8. In this chapter, the Jews ask Jesus if he is greater than their father Abraham. Jesus’ final reply to that question, in John 8:58, is, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” Jesus declared right then and there that he was “I Am,” the God who met Moses in the burning bush. And, the Jews knew that this was exactly what Jesus meant for they immediately picked up stones to stone him to death for blaspheming the name of God.
So, Jesus declares boldly, “I Am.” He has come to witness to who the Father is and he declares that he is the same as, one with, the Father by taking his name “I Am.”
And, throughout the John’s gospel, Jesus repeatedly declares the name of God so that Israel will know that he is speaking, “Here I Am.”
- I Am the bread of life – John 6:48
- I Am the light of the world – John 8:12
- I Am the door – John 10:7
- I Am the good shepherd – John 10:11
- I Am the resurrection and the life – John 11:25
- I Am the way, the truth, and the life – John 14:6
- I Am the true vine – John 15:1
John’s gospel features these seven I am statements, seven being the number of spiritual perfection, to reveal Jesus as the son of God, the I Am.
But, there are a number of instances, six to be exact, in John’s gospel where, the English translation, Jesus says, “I am he.” But, in everyone of these instances, the word “he” is not found in the original Greek and has been added in English, supposedly to aid in our understanding. But, by adding “he,” the translators have taken away the force of what Jesus is saying.
Notice how the following passages read without the “he” that is not in the Greek. I will bold the I Am that doesn’t have the “he” in the Greek.
“‘I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I Am you will die in your sins.’ So they said to him, ‘Who are you?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.’ They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said to them, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I Am, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.’ As he was saying these things, many believed in Him.” – John 8:24-30
“I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I am telling you this now, before it takes places, that when it does take place you may believe that I Am. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” – John 13:18-20
“So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, ‘Whom do you seek?’ They answered him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I Am.’ Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, ‘I Am,’ they drew back and fell to the ground. So he asked them again, ‘Whom do you seek?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I Am.’ So, if you seek me, let these men go.'” – John 18:3-8
Without the “he,” Jesus’ statements become much more forceful and powerful. And, all of these I Am statements fulfill the scripture, “Therefore my people shall know my name. Therefore in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here I am.”