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Jesus, in response to the Pharisees' question "Who do you think you are?" said, "'Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.' 'You are not yet fifty years...
For the believers and followers of Jesus Christ, who have known Jesus is God Himself "I AM WHO I AM" (Exodus 3:14) and through the Gospel of John 1:1-14; 6: 63; 17:3, this question is not a question at all. For the unbelievers, Jesus is just an ordinary man from Nazareth, the son of Joseph a carpenter,.as Jesus said:"Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor"(Mark 6:4)
Jesus meant that He IS the great 'I AM'...Jesus was declaring to be God in the Flesh, not a 'person' in the Godhead. Jesus is the flesh/Son of God. The One and only True God. Yes, there are three (actually many) manifestations, but only One God. He is Father in Creation, Son in redemption of mankind, and Spirit in Inspiration, but One. Romans 1 state that the things of God are clearly seen in nature. E.g. A man named Michael, he is a Father, he is a Son, and his body houses his spirit, but Michael isn't three persons, he is one Man, with three roles (if you will), which ALL respond to his name, Michael. I hope this simplifies the age old question of 'who Jesus is', Jesus is Lord and God...be blessed.
When Jesus said "I AM" he was referring to the fact that he was the Messiah, which the leaders of Israel would not accept and tried to trump up any excuse to trip him up in what he said or to interpret what he said in such a way to bring a charge against him. In no way was he saying he was YHVH = Yehovah, for if indeed he had said that plainly in front of them they would definitely stoned him on the spot [example Stephan]. Jesus said of himself: Revelation 1:18 I am he that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. John 19:21 THEN SAID THE CHIEF PRIESTS OF THE JEWS TO PILATE, WRITE NOT, THE KING OF THE JEWS; but that HE SAID, I AM KING OF THE JEWS. John 18:37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Are you a king then? Jesus answered, you say that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice. Joh 18:5-6,8: They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I AM HE. and Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I AM HE, they went backward, and fell to the ground........ Jesus answered, I have told you that I AM HE (the Messiah): if therefore you seek me, let these go their way: John 15:1,5: I AM the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman....... I AM the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 14:6 Jesus says unto him, I AM the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:10-11: Believe you not that I AM in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwells in me, HE does the works. Believe me that I AM in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. John 14:20 At that day ye shall know that I AM in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. John 13:19: Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, you may believe that I AM HE [the Messiah] John 10:36: Say you of him, whom the Father has sanctified -set apart, and sent into the world, you blaspheme; because I said, I AM THE SON OF GOD? - if the Jews here thought he was saying he was Yehovah they would have stoned him on the spot. John 8:28: Then said Jesus unto them, When you have lifted up the son of man, then shall you know that I AM HE, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father has taught me, I speak these things. - it is obvious here he is not calling himself Yehovah when he says I am he... John 8:18: I AM one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me bears witness of me. John 7:33 : Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while I AM with you, and then I go unto him that sent me. John 5:43 I AM COME IN MY FATHER'S NAME -as THAT PROPHET mentioned by Moses, and you receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him you will receive. John 4:25-26: The woman saith unto him, I know that Messiah comes, who is called Christ - the anointed one - the Messiah: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus sats unto her, I that speak unto YOU AM HE. Notice what John the baptist says about himself and Jesus: John 3:28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. Luke 22: 70-71; 23:1-2: Then said they all, Are you then the Son of God?And he said unto them, You say that I AM. And they said, What need we any further witness? For we ourselves have heard of his own mouth................ And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, SAYING THE HE HIMSELF IS THE CHRIST - THE ANOINTED ONE - THE MESSIAH - A KING.
We trace the use of this term first when Moses encountered God on the Mt. Sinai in Exodus 3:13-15. In particular, verse 14, we envisage the more authoritative use of this term; "......I AM THAT I AM....." The use of this term in this particular case, connotes power, authority, unquestionably over and above. The way God answers back Moses carries the meaning that; why do you ask when it is me? Who else should it have been other than me? So, it meant that; "I AM" is God Himself and nobody else can assume this title and use it in terms that it is used in the Bible. In John 8:58, we encounter another use of the same term, this time by Jesus. Now the question is; who is this Jesus? Why does He use a term that is only unique to God alone? Was He implying He is equally God? How do we ascertain if Jesus is actually God Himself? If at all He is. If we search in the scriptures, how do they guide us? According to scripture; is Jesus to be worshiped as God? In Luke 4:8 Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'" But we also do realize that the times when Jesus was worshiped by anybody, He would never deny it (Luke 2:12-14), (John 9:38), (Mathew 2:11). Who only deserves worship? God alone deserves worship. The same Jesus was termed as God by Thomas in John 20:28. Did Jesus accept He was/is God? Yes He did, but not in a boom rang way. It was/is only to be perceived and understood by those who had sought for Him (Mathew 16:17). Jesus wanted us to understand Him as a Savior first rather than as God incarnate. He did not want to force anybody into believing it. He preferred it to be a revelation. He wanted to first identify with us rather than to reveal His deity. His primary mission was to save. A small demonstration; when a Medical Doctor is going to the garden, he/she will not say well; I am a Medical Doctor, even if I am going to the garden, I should remain dressed like a Medical Doctor, even when I am digging! Would that make sense to you? Our dress code is dictated by the type of job we do, not so? Jesus' primary mission had not been to express His deity to us, but when He was revealed to be so, so be it. He never denied He was/is God, that is what He is/was. In Luke 7:36-38, we encounter a woman who washed Jesus' feet with her tears. This too was an act of worship, Jesus did not deny it. In John 14:8-11, when Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father, Jesus replied; if you have seen me, you have seen the Father, I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Jesus meant; I am God, why then do you ask? Additionally, on all occasions, Jesus spoke with authority such as; I am the way, the truth, and the life. I am the door. I am the good Shepherd. Your sins are forgiven. All such were some of the reasons why the Pharisees sought to crucify Him. They accused Him of speaking as if He was/is God. All such statements were typical of a deity, a deity in Jesus. Jesus was/is God, even by examining His statements. In the Old Testament days, God used to visit His people but in a very fierce and fearful way. Exodus 19, tells how people had to disperse in God's presence. The unrighteous man could never be compatible with the righteous God. But in Jesus, we had God move in human flesh peacefully with His people with the sole aim of having their souls set free rather than to express how over and above all that may be He was/is. Thus the use of the term; "Emmanuel" God with us (Isaiah 7:14) Was/is Jesus God, yes He was/is, but this had not been the overriding factor of His coming. He wanted first to express Himself as a Savior rather than as God. Thus the use of the term by Jesus in John 8:58; I AM as it had been used in the OT when Moses met with God. In deed and word and character, Jesus was/is God. All that He did, no man by themselves can do. His character was/is never to be matched. He went on to forgive right on the cross. He was to save even those who had crucified Him. He was/is surely God.
"I Am" is one of the names that God gave to Mosses in the "burning bush". What Jesus was really saying is that He and YHWH are One and the same.
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