The Paradox of the Gospel

In John 8:58, Jesus makes an audacious statement, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

In Exodus 3, when Moses asks God for His name, God says this:

14“I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” 15God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.” In other words, Jesus is not only claiming to be God; He’s claiming to be the fulfillment of every longing in this world.

When Jesus says, “I AM” He’s not just making a statement, He’s giving an invitation. An invitation to every unbelieving heart to believe in Him as the fulfillment of everything they long for. The Bible tells us it’s as if our hearts are continually asking,

  • Who can satisfy me?
  • Who can cleanse my conscience?
  • Who can forgive all my sin?
  • Who can erase my guilt and rid me of my shame?
  • Who can defeat death once and for all?
  • Who can make all wrongs, right again?
  • Who can take my broken life and make it whole?

And Jesus answers them all at once saying, “I AM.”

Jesus does not offer these Jewish leaders a system of rules and laws to clean up their exterior, he offers himself as the redeemer of their interior. See, the paradox of the gospel is that the Great I AM dies to forgive sinners who believe “great am I.”

Which should lead us to say with the Puritan Thomas Watson, “Behold, what manner of love is this, that Christ should be arrested, and we adorned, that the curse should be laid on His head and His crown set on ours.”

What does this mean? Every Christian testimony can be summed up in one sentence: I am not, but I know I AM.


This article is an excerpt from a sermon I preached at College Park Church. You can view the sermon here:

I Am (John 8:39-59), College Park Church
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