Exodus 3: 13-14
Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
Mark 14: 61b-65
The high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus said, “I am; and ‘you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power,’ and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven.’” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?” All of them condemned him as deserving death. Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” The guards also took him over and beat him.
So there is Moses, standing before the God of the universe who has just selected him to be the one to confront the most powerful man in the world, Pharaoh, who happens to think of himself as a god. Moses’ mission is to command Pharaoh to let the slave labor (the Israelites) that is sustaining his whole kingdom, go free! Moses realizes that his first difficulty is convincing the Israelites that God told him this so that, even if he convinces Pharaoh, they will follow him. So he asks God to identify himself, and God’s answer is “I am who I am.” God essentially says, “I am eternally present. I am the source of all life, and the power you need to free my people!”
Fast forward to Jesus, standing before the high priest and the 70 elders, called the Sanhedrin, who are determining his fate. He is asked point blank whether he considers himself to be the Messiah, the Son of God. Jesus’ answer? “I am,” essentially meaning “I am eternally present. I am the source of all life, and the power you need to be free from your sin sickness and evil!” The great irony here is that the very God who had given each of them life, who had saved his people from slavery to Egypt, who was present before them to save them from their sins, was perceived to be their enemy and was condemned by them to die. Maybe they enjoyed their slavery to power and control as religious leaders more than the freedom Jesus offered?
Where is I AM present with power and grace at the ready to free us from slavery and lead us more fully into life? Where do we push I AM away, unwilling to accept the freedom he died to give us because we are more comfortable in our slavery? Hmmm…let’s pray, let the Holy Spirit speak within us, and ask for the courage to be free from ourselves to live fully in Jesus, our God who is eternally present, the source of all life, and the power we need to be free to live!