Thursday, 22 September 2016

‘Ego eimi’ – ‘I am’

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”  “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said.  (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground   (John 18: 4-6)

Generally it is held that there were seven instances of Christ’s ‘I AM’ phrase in John’s Gospel (‘I am the bread of life…. the light of the world…. the door…. the good shepherd…. the resurrection and the life…. the way the truth and the life…. the Vine.  But here is a fascinating eighth.  For the New Testament Greek has Jesus replying to the demand of his enemies to identify himself with just two words: “ego eimi” – literally, I AM.

Coming as it did – at the arrest that inaugurated what Christ had long earlier foretold as the approaching ‘hour’ of his coming ordeal – the statement had the effect of a thunderclap.  For the two words ‘I AM’ refer - in the Bible – to the divine Name, first announced to Moses (Exodus 3:14).  Uttered at this moment, and in such a manner, it highlighted the chasm between the majesty of Jesus and the treachery of Judas and his armed companions. A s Gordon Bridger writes, ‘A look.  A word. The divine name; and they shrink from his presence’ (The Man from Outside: Inter-Varsity Press)

Only at that point does Jesus allow his enemies  to take him.

It’s good to be on the side of Jesus – even when the worst things imaginable are happening.  His is the Name that is above every name (Acts 4:12; Philippians 2:9-11).  Jesus Christ stays in ultimate charge.  Always.  And - as Gordon Bridger continues -  ‘If we really met him, we too would fall to the ground.’


Monday, 12 September 2016

Joined to Christ

“I am the true vine”  (John 15:1)

If you have ever visited Hampton Court, former grand home of England’s King Henry VIII – you are bound to have seen the ‘Great Vine’ – the oldest of its kind in the world.  Fascinatingly the spreading branches of this gigantic vine derive their life from a single central stem.

The vital UNION between a vine and its branches was used by Jesus to teach the necessary dependence of His followers on himself.  And ‘fruitfulness’ is the very life of God, outpouring itself in godly character and selfless service.  ‘Stay joined to Christ’ is the secret – and there WILL be ‘fruit.’  It will just happen!

William Nagenda of Uganda was one of the most effective Christian leaders Africa ever had.  It was in his early days of unbelief that he was first challenged.  “I was working in my city office,” he remembered,  “and heard some singing about Jesus from outside.  Exasperated, I flung open the door and shouted ‘Quieten down! What’s going on?’ 

“Four men faced me. ‘Ah,” they smiled, ‘We wish you knew!’

“Angrily I slammed the door shut.  But then I began to think.  I said to myself, ‘Their faces – so full of joy and peace…  I wish I had such a face!’  I came back to the four, and asked ‘How can I have a face like yours? W hat did you do to be like that?’  Their answer was dumbfounding.  ‘We have not done one single thing to be different!’  The explanation, they said, lay in the power of Christ.

“I could hardly take it in,” said William.  “But that, to me, was the beginning.”  By the evening William had become a believer.  

‘Apart from me you can do nothing,’ said Jesus.  Be a part of Christ, the True Vine - maintaining touch by prayer and His word every day - and the supernatural work of God will do the rest.  Test yourself one day regarding the ‘fruit’, as you look up Galatians 5:22,23!