The Great I Am
by Pr. Dave Mann
This passage of the burning bush and God’s call on Moses’ life and mission is of the same importance as God’s call of Abram in Genesis 12:1-3. But there is a new element in this passage. It is the revelation of the name of the God who is calling Moses—I am who I am.
All other living beings and entities in the entire world are dependent on something or someone else as the basis of their existence. Diamonds exist because of coal and pressure. Coal exists because of sedimentary deposits composed mostly of carbon. I exist because of the existence of my parents. All of creation exists because of God. There is only one being who is not dependent on anyone or anything else—that is the Lord. God is the only one who exists without the aid of another. He is pure being, in and of himself.
In the normal grammatical use of the words “I am,” there is a complement that follows:
I am from the U.S.
I am very hungry.
I am a doctor.
When there are words that follow “I am,” those words complete the thought and there is no special divine meaning.
However, on numerous occasions, Jesus makes the clear claim to be the same as the Lord who met Moses at the burning bush. He uses those words without a complement, making connection with Exodus 3:14.
John 8:24 — I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am, you will indeed die in your sins.
John 13:19 — I am telling you now before it happens so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am.
John 8:58 — Very truly I tell you, Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”
John 18:6 — When Jesus said to them, “I am,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
Mark 14:62 — And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
In some translations, Jesus’ words are provided a complement, “I am he” but the pronoun he is written in italics to indicate that this word, a complement, is not in the original language. The editors have added that word.
Jesus’ intent is plain — to make clear that he is God in human flesh. He is the Word that had the power to create the world out of nothing. He is the verbal claim on the life and mission of Moses. He is the One who has power over death through the cross and resurrection.
O Great I AM, you have all being, in and of yourself. I exist only because of your eternal existence. I am eternally grateful, in Jesus’ name, Amen.