Text: John 8:48-59
58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
During the Thirty Years' War in the 17th century, German pastor Paul Gerhardt and his family were forced to flee from their home. One night as they stayed in a small village inn, homeless and afraid, his wife broke down and cried openly in despair. To comfort her, Gerhardt reminded her of Scripture promises about God's provision and keeping. Then, going out to the garden to be alone, he too broke down and wept. He felt he had come to his darkest hour.
Soon afterward, Gerhardt felt the burden lifted and sensed anew the Lord's presence. Taking his pen, he wrote a hymn that has brought comfort to many. "Give to the winds thy fears; hope, and be undismayed; God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears; God shall lift up thy head. Through waves and clouds and storms He gently clears the way. Wait thou His time, so shall the night soon end in joyous day."
It is often in our darkest times that God makes His presence known most clearly. He uses our sufferings and troubles to show us that He is our only source of strength. And when we see this truth, like Pastor Gerhardt, we receive new hope. Are you facing a great trial? Take heart. Put yourself in God's hands. Wait for His timing. He will give you a "song in the night."
Our Daily Bread, May 7, 1992.
And on this Trinity Sunday (Weekend) we look to the hope that is our one true God who has revealed himself as one divine essence, but also as three unique and coequal persons … Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And to this divine essence Jesus claimed Sonship, for the work He came to do and was to accomplish, in only what God could do in Christ by taking on human flesh and laying down His life for the sins of the world, paying the price that you and I could never pay and to this work and revelation Jesus claimed:
Before Abraham was, “I AM”!
The question that the Jews ask Jesus and the question that is asked many times over about Him; are you God?
The Jews first say that Jesus is a Samaritan and accuse Him of having a Demon! To which Jesus replies:
49 … “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”
Well, this really gets under their skin because they are now convinced more than ever that Jesus has a Demon because they know that:
‘Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’
Unbelief really has them messed up. So they press the issue:
53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! (… and here comes the big question …) Who do you make yourself out to be?”
The question that the Jews want to know is the same question that human reason can never grasp. How can this man be God? Their reason tells them that this man Jesus is not yet fifty years old so how can he say that:
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. (and that) He saw it and was glad.” Then Jesus makes one more statement that really causes grief and anger among the Jews. He says:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
Truly, Christ Jesus got their attention with this statement; claiming to be God and using God’s divine name!
In Genesis Chapter 15 God’s word says:
“… the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” (Gen 15:1b) And then He says:
“I am the LORD who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” (Gen 15:7b)
To claim God’s name was an offense for the Jews. For many in our day as well, the divine name of Jesus is an offense. In the gospel of John Jesus uses the divine name seven times.
1. I AM the Bread of Life (6:35, 41, 48)
2. I AM the Light of the World (8:12; cf. 9:5)
3. I AM the Gate (10:7, 9)
4. I AM the Good Shepherd (10:11, 14)
5. I AM the Resurrection and the Life (11:25)
6. I AM the Way and the Truth and the Life (14:6)
7. I AM the True Vine (15:1)
On the Feast of the Holy Trinity we understand that I AM is one God and that this one God is revealed as Father Son and Holy Spirit. The Athanasian Creed is long, has a strange name, is repetitive and may even appear confusing. We as LCMS Lutheran’s hold to the three Ecumenical Creeds but recite the Apostles Creed on non-communion weekends and the Nicene Creed on communion weekends but the Athanasian Creed is recited traditionally on Trinity weekend so we can be reminded of what the catholic (small “c” universal) faith is.
To know the true God is to know who he is and to know what He has done.
Our Creeds help us know God and confess what we believe.
Martin Luther thought highly of the Athanasian Creed. He said of it:
I doubt whether, since the time of the Apostles in the New Testament Church, a more important and glorious creed has been written.
(W 6:2315) JMK
So why is it important? Well, is it important to know the truth? Is Jesus truly God, the great I AM or is He an impostor? Is the Holy Spirit God? Is the Father God? The first commandment says: You shall have no other Gods before me. So if one claims to be what they aren’t … they are a fraud!
Hideyoshi, a Japanese warlord who ruled over Japan in the late 1500s, commissioned a colossal statue of Buddha for a shrine in Kyoto. It took 50,000 men five years to build, but the work had scarcely been completed when the earthquake of 1596 brought the roof of the shrine crashing down and wrecked the statue. In a rage Hideyoshi shot an arrow at the fallen colossus. "I put you here at great expense," he shouted, "and you can't even look after your own temple."
Today in the Word, MBI, August, 1991, p. 23.
To claim to be what you are not can be a crime. To claim to be God, if you are not, is blasphemy.
The glory that God seeks as Father is to honor the Son. This honor is pointed to as we heard last weekend by the Holy Spirit who is coequal with the father and the Son.
54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’
The glory that Jesus has is given because He is God in the flesh and truly worthy. Not a glory that Jesus gives himself but a glory that is bestowed because he is truly God.
The Athanasian Creed declares the truth of God as Trinity and the uniqueness of God in diversity of persons. God has come to stand in your place and you see the fullness of God in Christ Jesus who takes away your sin and the sins of the world. In Christ you have the fullness of God standing in your place and taking your sin upon himself, nailing it to the cross forever. In Christ the Father is well pleased and in Christ you are seen by the Father covered by Christ’s righteousness made possible by the working of the Holy Spirit who has created faith in you to believe and trust in Christ’s finished work.
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.