From the first words of the Gospel of John to the last sentence in the Book there is a clear message about Jesus being God who pitched his tent among us for a period of time. John pictures Jesus on numerous occasions taking the self-portrait of God in his meeting Moses in the burning bush and applies it to himself. When Moses asked God his name that he might share it with the people to demonstrate it was really God who was sending him to lead the people, God told him to say, “I Am who I am. Tell them ‘I Am has sent you.” Jesus not only took the “I Am” phrase and used it seven times with a description of himself but on seven other occasions used it as his singular statement of himself. Notice the seven uses to describe himself were: I am the bread of life, I am the light of the world, I am the gate, I am the good shepherd, I am the resurrection and the Life, I am the way, the truth and the life and I am the true vine. Try to imagine for a moment what it would have been like to be a Jew living in the time Jesus was walking in Galilee and Judea and how you would have reacted when you heard him take the holy name of God, Yahweh and applied it to himself. Would you have fallen before him to worship him? Or would you have been like many of the other Jews of the time who picked up rocks to throw at him because he was a man making himself out to be God?
John never used the word “Miracle” to describe the amazing actions of Jesus. Instead he used the word “Signs” to describe the amazing events in Jesus life. These signs were there to demonstrate his identity. In chapter 20:30-31 John wrote, “Many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. These are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God and that believing you might have life in his name.” He turned water into wine at the wedding feast to demonstrate he was master over quality. His was the best wine that had been saved to the end. He healed the noblemen’s son without going to where he was to show he was master over distance. He could heal wherever he was or wherever the person was in need. He healed the man lying at the pool of Bethesda who had been invalid for 38 years to show he was master over time. It didn’t matter how long it had been he was in control. He fed the crowd of over 5,000 people with a little boys lunch to show he was master over quantity. He walked on the water to go to his disciples to show he was master over the elements. He healed the blind man who was born blind to show he was master over heredity. He raised Lazarus from the dead, after four days to show he was in control over death. Then the greatest miracle of them all was when Jesus was raised from the dead and appeared to the disciples, even to Thomas to bring him to faith.
But how would you have reacted to all these miracles? Would you have declared that truly this is the Son of God and our place is to worship Him? Or would you have doubted the whole thing? Would you have been in the crowd who looked for a reason to crucify him as the deceiver of the people?
Imagine being in the crowd in John 8:48-59. Jesus had just given the speech about one being a real disciple if they continued in his word and they would know the truth and the truth would make them free. He had noted that the unbelievers were following their father the devil who was a liar and murderer from the beginning. In verse 48 they say, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” Jesus responded that he didn’t have a demon and was seeking to glorify the Father while they dishonored him. “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” This brought on greater accusations. They asked who he was making himself out to be since even Abraham was now dead. “Are you greater than our father Abraham who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus again points to his effort to bring glory to God the Father and declares that if he denied knowing the father he would be a liar like them. “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” The Jews responded, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham? Jesus said to them. ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” They began to pick up stones to stone him to death. What would you have done? Jesus took the very words God used to identify himself to Israel and to Moses and applied it to himself. Logically there are only two possible responses. Either one falls before him to worship him as God or you stone him as an imposter. Which would you have done?
Sometimes you will hear people say that Jesus was a great man, a great prophet but just a man but if you really read the gospel accounts that is a ridiculous statement. Jesus either is who he claimed to be, Yahweh, the I AM or he is the world’s biggest liar and fraud or he is mentally ill and having visions of grandeur. I choose to believe he was all he claimed to be as God in human form and one I worship regularly. What is your choice?