The Great I AM
For the redeemed person, our entire life rests upon our “looking unto Jesus” (Heb. 12:2): from everything, in everything, and for everything. That “look” unto the Savior, Redeemer, and Deliverer must come to define every facet of our lives. Everything that we are and everything that we hope to be is found in him. From Christ, all blessings flow. There’s absolutely no substitute for “looking unto” and intimately knowing Jesus. “If you want fullness of life, you have to go to [him],” writes Warren Wiersbe. (11) “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17) I applaud the imagery employed in that verse by the apostle, who declares that with God, there’s “no variation,” no shifting shadow. Our Lord never changes and knows nothing of fluctuation. He always is.
That might seem like an odd and quite awkward phrase, Jesus always is, but this is the truth to which we must cling most tightly. As times and seasons and circumstances vary, our Heavenly Father does not. God is in no way susceptible to change. He is permanent, constant, unchanging, steadfast — immutable: “For I the Lord do not change.” (Mal. 3:6) “God’s love is not affected by the weather of earth,” Charles Spurgeon says, “or the changes of time.”
The blessed promise of the gospel is the sure foundation of God’s never-changing disposition towards us — one of free love and infinite grace. Despite ourselves, despite us going astray and often seeking for our own praise or pleasure, God’s love never changes or ceases! It is we who alter and become separate from God, not he from us. It’s sweet to know that our sovereign Creator and Savior never ceases in his love for us. The same God who loved Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, David, Peter, Paul, and John, is the same God who loves you!
Jesus Christ is eternally trustworthy! God’s forgiveness is forever — his love is endlessly the same. His grace is a cavern into which we’re thrust and never reach bottom! We’ll never be able to plumb the depths of his gospel. God never changes in his propensity for loving, gracious, tender care of his sons and daughters. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8) Jesus is alive, at this very moment, and has forever extended his hand to us in grace, an offer that promises a satisfying spiritual life in the present tense! Jesus always is — Grace always is — Love always is — Forgiveness always is — Pardon, Rescue, Deliverance, Justification, Salvation, etc., always is! All that Jesus is, always is.
This is what Christ intends to declare when he, throughout the Gospels, declares that he is the great I AM. (John 6:20; 8:24, 28, 58; 18:5) Especially reflect upon what Jesus says in John 8, where he declares, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:59) Notice that Christ doesn’t say, “before Abraham was, I was.” No, he firmly declares that “before Abraham was, I am.” This is a clear reference to Exodus 3:14, where God appeared to Moses in the burning bush. It’s there that God reveals himself as the great “I AM”: “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.” (Ex. 3:14)
“I AM WHO I AM,” or, it can be translated, “I will be what I will be.” It’s this that forms the basis for our God’s truest name: Yahweh, or Jehovah, from the Hebrew for “to be.” The name Yahweh imports to us that God is self-existent: he’s eternal — he always was, and always will be. Therefore, Christ was claiming to be all that Jehovah is, to be eternal, and, moreover, he was identifying himself as Jehovah, as Yahweh, in the flesh — as the very God who had appeared to Moses some 2,000 years before, which is why the crowd tries to stone him. (John 8:59)
It’s this Jesus who is our Cornerstone (Acts 4:11; Eph. 2:20), our Rock (1 Sam. 2:2; 2 Sam. 22:2–3; Ps. 18:2): firm and true, unyielding and unrelenting in mercy and grace. It’s this Jesus who is our Everything. (2 Cor. 1:20) “In Jesus Christ,” Wiersbe continues, “the great I AM, we have all that we need!” (25) The Jesus that we’re “following hard after” (Ps. 63:8 KJV), that we’re pursuing, that we’re striving to continually “look unto,” is Jesus in the present tense, an “I AM” Jesus, who’ll always be with us! (Heb. 13:5; Lam. 3:22–23) The same God who was bent upon saving you, even when you were an enemy and stranger of him (Rom. 5:8, 10), is the same God who’ll sustain you forevermore. Regardless of what life brings your way, you can trust in and look to Jesus, the great I AM, who always is. “In every tribulation look unto Jesus,” writes Octavius Winslow, “mark his gracious hand directing the scourge and mingling the bitter cup; tempering its proper degree of severity, appointing the limit of its continuance, and converting seeming disasters into occasions of real good.”
This is the power and grace that the gospel imparts you with — the same power and grace that was seen and experienced by all those who’ve gone before us, and is the same power and grace that we see and experience and revel and rejoice in today! The great I AM is continuously working, continuously manifesting and revealing himself to his children in new, unexplored ways. “Do not read the Gospels as a record merely of the past,” F. B. Meyer comments, “but as a transcript of what he is ever doing. Each miracle and parable and trait is a specimen of eternal facts, which are taking place by myriads, at every moment of the day and night, the achievements of the ever-living, ever-working Lord.” (260–61) God never changes. His grace never leaves. His mood never sways. He’s always the same. As John Gill writes, “In his nature, love, grace, and fullness, he is the invariable and unchangeable I AM.” That is why we’re able to “run and not be weary . . . walk and not faint.” (Isa. 40:30–31) In every season, in every circumstance, look to Jesus, the eternal “I AM,” who always is and always will be, and who supports and sustains you by his everlasting grace!
F. B. Meyer, The Way into the Holiest: Expositions of the Epistle to the Hebrews (New York: F. H. Revell, 1893).
Warren Wiersbe, Jesus in the Present Tense: The I AM Statements of Christ (Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2011).