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.’