At this time of the year, we begin to hear a lot of different names of Christ: Messiah, Wonderful, Counselor, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Emmanuel, and these are just a few among many! One of the greatest names of God, and one with which Christ very distinctly identified is the name that we first encounter in Exodus 2 – “I AM.” In John 18:6, when Jesus is asked to identify himself, he responds with “I am.” (the translators supply the word ‘he’ for clarity of reading but it does not appear in the original language). Observe in that verse what happens when that name of God is uttered!
It has been said that “I AM” is the blank check of God’s character. You can fill in any attribute of God, and cash that check. In the book of John, Jesus uses “I am _______” no fewer than 17 times. We learn much about God through the descriptions Christ uses. I am the bread of life (John 6:35, 41), I am the living bread (6:51), I am the light of the world (8:12) I am the resurrection (11:25), I am the vine (15:5). The descriptions of God in the person of Jesus Christ are both picturesque and practical. If we deepen our relationship with Him, and in turn, he begins to fill up more and more of our lives (like the vine) there will be fruit born out in our lives.
The name of God always has and always will demand respect. Notice in Revelation 11:16-17, the twenty-four elders in heaven begin to fall down around God’s throne. These heavenly beings worship God and say, “We give thanks, O Lord God almighty, which art and wast, and art to come…” His name and His character, closely intertwined, demand the utmost respect even from the heavenly hosts. How much more from us who enjoy the blessings and ultimate display of God’s love to us!?
Next week, we will celebrate the greatest gift anyone could ever receive. A perfect substitute on our behalf, in order that we might have eternal life! As we consider what God has given to us, let me encourage you to consider what you might sacrifice to God. This kind of sacrifices shouldn’t be just the easiest thing to give up, nor should it be strictly symbolic (although I hope you see the symbolism). You will never be able to give God more than what he has already given you. You’ll find that your sacrifice is nothing compared to what you have been given. Perhaps if we all lived that way, we would have more people who echo the testimonies of Joash and Jehoida. Joash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoida (2 Chronicles 24:2) and Jehoida “had done good in Israel, both toward God, and toward his house.”
Our lives should be centered around our relationship with God. Our hearts should respond to Him in love “because he first loved us.” We have been given so much, our only logical response should be to give back to Him what he has given to us. He is worthy of it and we are unworthy of His gifts. As we look forward with eager anticipation toward next week, remember that the greatest gift won’t be under the tree. If you have repented and believed the Gospel, you’ve already received it: “eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”