48 The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”49 “I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50 I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”Indulge me here, OK?
52 At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
I'd like to look at another portion of the Word as we start studying this passage.
Just hit the rewind button and lift up your finger when you get to Exodus chapter 3. (Grin)
Remember when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt? Moses had been raised in the palace of the Pharaoh, but he had fled from Egypt because he was wanted for murder. Years and years he'd been in the desert, and found a wife and family there. One day in the wilderness, God comes to meet him! On the mountain called Horeb, God appears in a burning bush and speaks to him; He wants Moses to tell Pharaoh to let His people go.
I've always found Moses' response interesting: he isn't really thrilled with the idea! He starts telling God all of the problems in the proposed plan. He's just a shepherd, his name is on "wanted" posters, he can't talk eloquently, yada yada yada. He doesn't even think that the Israelites, who had now been in slavery for about 400 years, would even believe him. "Lord, they will want to know Who is sending me to them. What should I say is your name?"
Here's the part that should really crank our tractors. These are stirring words. They are awe-inspiring. They are timeless, eternal words. "I AM WHO I AM." Tell them "I AM has sent me." This is one of the most important moments in the Bible, and we now know the very name of God!
I AM WHO I AM. When He says this, He is proclaiming, "I am eternal. I am uncaused. I have no beginning, and no end. I am the past, the present, and the future -- in fact, I am above time and space. I AM WHO I AM and nothing about that will ever change."
In His quest to bring us to Himself, God has revealed Himself to us. God is personal -- He has a name. You see, He is not just a force of some kind, or a unit of energy, but a real being Who knows us, and wants us to know Him. But He is also a being Who is far higher above us than we can ever imagine.
This name for God became of great importance to the generations of Jews who followed Moses. The third commandment was the one in which God told them to never, ever use His name in vain. God's name was holy; it was a name that a reverent Jew would not speak, or write, or spell. Did you know that when His name was used in the scriptures, the transcribers would only write the first consonants of the words and leave out the vowels. Why? So it would be impossible to say the name aloud.
It would appear as an unpronounceable word -- just four letters. YHWH.
We say it today: Yahweh.
But no Jew would dare to say that name. God was simply too holy, too righteous, too far above mankind for anyone to even utter His name. The penalty for those who did was death.
Wow. Times sure have changed. God's name is tossed around in our world like a cheap toy. It's used as a curse when human beings are angry or frustrated. We even take it for granted in church, barely thinking as we speak His name. We pray as Jesus taught us to pray, sure, saying "Hallowed be thy name," but do we really do anything to keep His name holy? Do we say it casually, or with reverence?
What does the way we use the name of God, tell us about how we feel about the person of God? What does it say about our relationship with Him?