The Great I AM: For the Father

The Great I AM: For the Father

The Great I AM: For the Father

“When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM He.” (John 8:28).

Once again in the Gospel of John, Jesus appropriates the personal Name of Yahweh, the Great I AM. This is the Holy One’s Name revealed to Moses at the Burning Bush in Exodus 3:14, I Am Who I AM. God’s personal Name is mysterious and somewhat unclear, suggesting that Yahweh is the foundation of existence, the Eternal “to be” verb. His Name could also mean I Will Be What I Will Be… the God of surprises, the God of the future tense, as suggested by Rabbi Sacks. This Name Yahweh occurs over 6,000 times in the Hebrew Bible (the O.T.), and is designated by the word LORD in all capital letters. Jesus uses this sacred Name time and again in John, every time being a dramatic claim of being co-equal to God. By repeatedly claiming to be I AM, Jesus proves that He is either insane, a charlatan, or the Truth. No one else would dare to make that claim. He proved to be the Truth.


a. The context for this particular I AM claim is Jesus’ reference to the intimacy between the Father and the Son. The humility of Jesus is constantly on display as He refers to the Father as the source and motivation for His ministry on earth, and Jesus continues to speak about His total dependence on the Father. Here in this John passage, Jesus on the one hand claims divinity, and on the other hand claims subservience to God. Jesus is truly humble in heart, while at the same time speaks the truth as to His deity and heavenly status.

b. “The secret of the whole world of humanity is the love between the Father and the Son. That is at the root of it all. Upon the love between the Son and Father hangs the whole universe. What can it mean exactly, you know, I cannot tell you. Why the Lord must go and ascend to His Father, though with Him all the time and with Him at the moment, I cannot tell you; but it means something, as if there were some center somewhere where this very body of His must be embraced in the arms of the Father before He was satisfied – as if He had to go back and tell His Father, “I have done it, Father, I have done it. It is over now and we shall have them all back by and by.” (George MacDonald, from the sermon Knowing the Risen Lord).

c. In this passage Jesus is discussing spiritual matters in the Temple, with believing and nonbelieving Jews. He talks about being “lifted up,” and there are two ways we can understand this, and both can be right. On the one hand He is referring to being revealed when He is exalted here on earth. When we honor Him, we recognize Him for who He is. On the other hand, He is referring directly to being lifted up on the Cross, and how His identity will be realized by all when He dies for our sins. Both understandings can be viewed together: the suffering of Jesus is actually His glory, His splendor. Somehow His glory is to suffer and die for our salvation. The very splendor of Jesus was unveiled on the Cross. That’s when He was glorified; the Cross was His badge of heavenly honor. Somehow, Jesus was glorified when He suffered. The deep love between the Father and the Son is involved here too. Jesus is most glorified when He glorifies the Father. On the cross, Jesus accomplished everything the Father wanted Him to do before the Resurrection. For Jesus to complete the Father’s assignment, He had to die, and that was His greatest glory. Jesus obeyed the Father’s wishes to the very end, “down to the last detail.”

d. John 8:26“I have so many things to say that concern you, but know that He who sent me is trustworthy and completely truthful. I will testify to the world of the truths that I have heard from my Father. Whatever I declare to the world I have learnt from Him.”

John 8:28. “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM He. You will understand me as I AM. Then you will realize that I do nothing on my own initiative. I only speak the truth that the Father has revealed to me. I’ m not making this up. What I say is what the Father has taught me.”

John 8:29. “He who sent me is always with me. He doesn’t abandon me. He has not left me alone. He stays with me continually. He sees how much joy I take in pleasing Him, for I only do that which delights His heart.”

The Father and the Son in the Gospel of John.

“My message and teaching is not my own. I don’t teach my own ideas, but the truth revealed to me by the One who sent me. If anyone is willing to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is of God or I am speaking on my own authority. Those who speak for themselves try to make themselves look good, they are seeking honor only for themselves. But my Father sent me to speak truth on His behalf, and I have no false motive, because I seek only the glory of God.” (John 7: 16-18).

“If God were really your Father, you would love me; you would welcome me gladly. For I proceeded from God; I came forth from Him, out of His very presence. I did not even come on my own authority. I was not self-appointed. He sent me.” (John 8:42).

“I’m not speaking as someone who is self-appointed, but I speak by the authority of the Father Himself. My Father has sent me and instructed me what to say. He gave me orders, told me what to say and how to say it. I know exactly what the Father’s commands lead to, what they produce: real and eternal life. That’s why I speak the very words I’ve heard Him speak. And that’s all I have to say. What the Father told me, I tell you.” (John 12:49-50).

“No one comes next to the Father except through union with me. To know me is to know my Father too. And from now on you will realize that you have seen Him and experienced Him.” (John 14:6-7).

“Anyone who has looked at me has seen the Father. Don’t you believe that the Father is living in me and I am living in the Father? The words that I speak to you aren’t mere words. I don’t just make them up on my own. The Father who resides in me crafts each word into a divine act. The Father who lives continually in me does His work through me. Just believe that I live as one with my Father, and my Father lives as one with me.”  (John 14:9-11).

“If you truly love me, you will be glad for me, you will rejoice. For I am returning to my Father, who is greater than I. My Father is the goal and purpose of my life… I am doing exactly what the Father destined for me to accomplish. I am carrying out my Father’s instructions right down to the last detail, so that the world will discover how thoroughly I love the Father.” (John 14:28, 31).

“I came to you sent from the Father’s presence, and I entered into the created world; and now I will leave this world and return to the Father’s side… I am never alone, for the Father is always with me.”  (John 16: 28, 32).

“Father, I have glorified you on earth by faithfully completing everything you’ve told me to do, down to the last detail. So, Father, restore me back to the glory that we shared together when we were face-to-face, before the world was created. Glorify me with your very own splendor, the very splendor I had in your presence before there was a world. Glorify me together with Yourself, restoring me to the majesty and honor we shared so long ago… They will soon see my full glory, the very splendor you have placed upon me because you have loved me even before the foundation of the world, before the beginning of time. You are my righteous and just Father, but the unbelieving world has never known you in the perfect way that I know you, the way I have continually known you.”  (John 17:4-5, 24-25).


“The secret of the whole world of humanity is the love between the Father and the Son. That is at the root of it all. Upon the love between the Son and Father hangs the whole universe.”  (George MacDonald).


Each Scripture quoted above is a weaving together of several translations and versions: The New Jerusalem BibleThe Passion TranslationThe New Living BibleThe New American Standard BibleThe MessageThe Amplified Bible. I have found that weaving together different versions helps amplify the meaning of each verse, and it tends to produce a clear teaching out of each passage.