The last three words of Mark Lowry’s popular song, “Mary, Did You Know,” are powerful. What did he mean when he called Jesus the “Great I Am”? And what did Jesus himself mean when he used “I Am” several times in the Bible to describe himself?
In the Old Testament, when God called Moses to go back to Egypt and lead the Hebrew people out to the promised land, Moses asked him, “Who shall I say sent me?”
God answered Moses with these words: “I AM WHO I AM.” Moses was to tell them, “I AM sent me.”
O—kay! if someone you didn’t know came to you and said,
“I’ve been told you are to pack up and leave here and follow me–”
“I don’t know. He said he’d lead me.”
“Who is he?”
“You are he?”
“No, he is ‘I Am.'” (See Exodus 3 & 4 for the rest of this fascinating story.)
In the New Testament, when Jesus made his ‘I AM’ statements, He was revealing something special about himself. I plan—in the next few weeks—to explore these statements. For now, let’s think about what God was implying to Moses.
What are the first three things you would say if someone asks “Who are you?” I suppose it depends on the circumstances. If you come upon someone suddenly and startle them, and they ask “Who are you?” you would probably want to put them at ease, so you would state your given name. Then you would tell what your business there was. Lastly, you might tell a deeper meaning of who you are to put them more at ease. For example: “I am Judy Vander Wege. I am a writer assigned to write an article about your ministry here. I am a Christian, too, so want to show in the article how you are glorifying God by your work.”
God startled Moses in the burning bush. Moses learned God is holy, he is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and he had compassion for the Hebrews enslaved in Egypt. God had a job for Moses to do. He wanted to work through Moses to rescue his people from that slavery.
God has a job for us to do as well. Often we, like Moses, will say, “Who am I?” He felt inadequate to do this job. But God said to Moses and to us, “I will be with you.” That’s when Moses asked his name and God said “I AM WHO I AM.” The footnote says it can also mean “I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE.” (In Hebrew, this is spelled YHVW which, in the New International Version of the Bible, is translated as ‘LORD.’
Whatever God has called us to do, He will equip us to do. He will strengthen us and supply our needs. He will always be present with us and is compassionate. He wants to work through us to release people from captivity to sin and to relieve their suffering.