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“I Am” Said Jesus
Key Verse 14:62
“‘I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’”
Jesus went to the Garden Of Gethsemane to pray. He said that he was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. He prayed as a man in anguish who knew what he needed to do. He needed to suffer and die on a cross for the sins of the world— and it wasn’t easy for him to do so! But it was necessary! It’s hard to imagine what kind of thoughts and feelings might have flooded his heart at this difficult time. But he didn’t give in to them. In this moment of decision, Jesus knew he had to pray. So he knelt down and prayed. He prayed to surrender his will to the will of the Father. This one truth, if we would accept it in our own personal lives, can be liberating. No one has the strength nor the will to submit to the will of God. But if we pray, God enables us to. Jesus clearly didn’t want to do it. But he prayed not to do what he himself wanted, but to do what God wanted him to do. When he had finished praying, he was ready to do what God wanted him to do.
Verses 42-52 tell the most infamous betrayal story of all time. A short while ago Judas left the table at Last Supper early— after Jesus extended love to him by giving him a piece of bread— and before Jesus made the blood covenant with his remaining disciples. He had gone out into the night to negotiate for the capture of Jesus. While Jesus was getting ready to give his life on the cross to save his friends, Judas was getting ready to betray his Friend Jesus to the authorities. No one knows exactly why Judas was about to do such a terrible thing. But when Judas rejected the love of God through Jesus, Satan entered him. People really don’t know the seriousness of rejecting the love of God. But to reject the love of God through Jesus is the greatest sin of all. And it does not end there, as most people think. To reject the love of God through Jesus— to reject Jesus invitation into a love fellowship— invites the devil into one’s heart.
Judas was never the same after Jesus rebuked him to set his priorities straight. A sinful woman had brought a small jar of very expensive perfume, and had poured it on Jesus’ head. She loved Jesus for loving and forgiving a sinful woman like her. So she had poured the expensive perfume on his feet, and had wiped his feet with her hair. It was one of the most beautiful pictures in the whole world— a woman showing gratitude for the Savior’s love and grace to her. But Judas wasn’t so happy. He thought that what she had done was a waste of good money that could have been given to the poor. And he incited the other disciples to rebuke her. But Jesus did not think it was a waste at all. Jesus accepted her sacrifice as her love and devotion to him. Jesus never thinks that anything we do in his name is a waste, even when it looks foolish or unreasonable to others. That’s where many, even Christians, fail to see the truth— that no sacrifice done for his name is a waste. Jesus commended her for having Jesus as a priority in her life, and he rebuked the rest of the disciples, especially Judas for putting other priorities first.
Judas was never the same after that. His countenance became like that of Cain. His face was downcast— he looked angry, and hatred started growing in his heart. His dreams and worldly hopes were shattered. And suddenly it dawned on him that life with Jesus was going to be one sacrifice after another. Judas decided that Jesus had lost his focus. What he was teaching was unreasonable. He was ready for compromise. And whenever a soul is ready for compromise, that is the devil’s most comfortable domain. Satan then came and had a talk with Judas. Judas let Satan counsel him on spiritual matters. The devil is so clever. It was just a matter of time before Judas began to think like Satan, until he led him astray from God (for that is what he does best— of all the things that the devil does, he leads people astray from God and his truth) In the end, Judas was completely sold to Satan’s way of thinking. At the dinner table at the Last Supper, when Jesus made an effort to redeem Judas’ soul, Judas’ heart was so hard. He didn’t listen to Jesus’ words of warning. Judas did not accept Jesus’ hand of friendship. Satan had managed to blot out the years of intimate friendship with Jesus, and all the love they had shared together. Judas was now determined to betray Jesus. Even that is a mystery, how to betray Jesus and still believe it’s for the best. Judas probably didn’t think of this as betrayal. But it was betrayal. Sadly Judas was not only betraying Jesus here, he was also betraying his own soul.
Judas led the detachment of soldiers and priests to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus and the disciples were. He looked around until he saw his friend Jesus. Then Judas kissed Jesus as a sign for his arrest. Then the soldiers came forward, cuffed Jesus and began to lead him away. And in all this, Jesus did not resist. He had prayed about this, and God had prepared him to endure wall that was to come. But the disciples weren’t prepared to simply obey the will of God. They had not prayed about it, nor had they accepted it. And when they tried to resist, and the odds seemed against them, they all fled. It was a painful moment for Jesus. He was betrayed by someone he loved. He was abandoned by the others whom he also loved. But it had to happen this way. It was necessary for the salvation of all who believe.
Look verses 53-60. The soldiers led Jesus to where the High Priest and the other priests were waiting to conduct a trial for Jesus. They were the spiritual leaders of the nation. They were the ones called to uphold the truth and to prepare God’s people for his God. They had a responsibility to teach the people the ways of God. But they had become clever liars and witty thieves. They were dangerous, because they were wolves in shepherd’s clothing. When the Messiah came to visit his people, they hated him because he was not like them. They despised him because he was gentle and humble and sacrificial and loving. From the start they tried to kill him, but the people wouldn’t let them, for they loved Jesus. Now the Messiah was in their grasp. They had poisoned one of his followers and bribed him with money to betray him to them. Jesus stood before them as they gloated over him. But there was a problem. They needed to pin a conviction on him. They threw accusations on him, brought in false witnesses, but it didn’t work. And when they questioned him directly, he would not answer. Jesus not even once defended himself to these false shepherds. Jesus just stood silent before them and entrusted himself to his Father God. Imagine this moment when evil men put God on trial. They were frustrated. Finally they decided to confront him with the truth. It was a truth they tried desperately to avoid. But now they had no choice but to bring the truth out. They knew that Jesus would not betray the truth.
Read verses 60-62. “Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” By law, they were not allowed to bait a convict into incriminating himself. But they were desperate to convict Jesus and to put him to death. So they asked him the question that would seal a conviction on Jesus. Are you the Christ? What a question. If you look at everything Jesus said and did, it was clear to the world— not only to the Jews— that he was the Christ. Christ came to heal the sick, to comfort the sorrowful, to bring sight to the blind and to make the lame walk. Christ had come to restore the broken relationship between us and God. The Christ became the friend of those who have no friends— to love those who have no one to love them. In every sense Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. They don’t need to ask him. No one need ask him. His words and his works testify that he is the Christ— the Son of God. That was the truth. And they knew that Jesus would not betray the truth. So Jesus, knowing that his answer would bring him the death sentence, said, “I am.”
Jesus said “I am”— the same “I am” who called Abraham to begin a new life of faith— the same “I am” who called Moses to lead Israel out of slavery to Egypt to the promised land— the same “I Am” who left his glory in heaven to come down to our sinful world, and to shed his blood to redeem us from our sins. When Jesus said: “I am”, they should repent of their evil motives, double lives, false pretences, cold hearts, wicked behavior— and betraying God’s trust in them—and ask forgiveness. But they did none of this. They had already sold their souls to the devil in exchange for some worldly glory and other temporary benefits. They needed to condemn him to death— not for the truth— but for interrupting their lives— for interfering with their plans— for inconveniencing them— and for revealing their sins. In history this has happened time and again. People ready to condemn Jesus for the truth— the truth that calls every one of us who hears it to turn our hearts from the things of this world, and live by the truth. If Jesus is the “Christ” we have a choice when we stand before him, to accept that truth or to turn away from it to whatever else we are doing, or to whatever else we are holding on to. They asked him if he were the Christ, and he said “I Am.” Jesus the great shepherd gave them another opportunity to kneel before him and ask for his mercy. But that would require repentance, and repentance requires that changes be made in their lives— changes they were not ready to make.
So he also said, “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven”. What he was saying to them and to us is that he is not only the Messiah but the Supreme Judge of all men, the one who would some day return on clouds of heaven to judge the living and the dead. These evil men were sitting in judgement of Jesus now, snug in their worldly position. But the day will come when they will have to stand before Jesus, to give an accounting for all that they had said and done in their lives. There are many reasons why people reject the truth of God, but mostly because they don’t want to give up their own ways. But life does not go on forever. The day will come when every person will have to stand before Jesus. And hard as it may seem to hear this, but it will not a pleasant thing to fall on that day in the hands of the Judge. Today, our Lord Jesus comes to us as a shepherd to lead us in the truth. But Jesus promised these men that one day they will face him as a Judge. This too was an act of kindness that they may reconsider what they are doing. But they used his words to convict him, just as God Almighty had foretold.
Look at verses 64,65. “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.” It was the will of God that Jesus be tried and convicted for our sake. Jesus was on trial not for his sins, but for our sins. If we had to be tried for our crimes against God and against each other, our sentence would have been death. But Jesus took our place. He did this because of his love for his friends, those who are bonded to him through his blood and devoted to serving him with their lives.
Look at verses 66-72. These verses tell the sad story of Peter’s denial of Jesus. Peter had been too confident in his relationship with Jesus. He had been sure that he was strong enough to stand on Jesus’ side in any situation. He was positive that nothing could weaken his faith. He trusted in his own loyalty to Jesus and in his own human love for Jesus— that they would not fail him in times of trouble. Jesus warned him not to trust himself, but to trust God’s words instead. Jesus warned him not to depend on his own ability but to trust God instead. But Peter was not listening. He was hurt that Jesus would even consider the possibility that Peter might betray him. Now this was the time to rely on God and to entrust himself to God’s grace— but he was not ready. It was heart breaking, but Peter could not but deny his Friend and Master Jesus. He did not mean to. He didn’t want to. But it happened because he trusted himself too much, and ignored Jesus’ warning in his pride. Now he stood there devastated that what he never intended to do, he had done. What could he do? He did not know what to do. So he went somewhere quiet and wept until he had no more tears. He thought that what he did was unforgivable— that he was beyond help or redemption. Still, he did not trust Jesus’ words. Jesus’ had told him that his failure would not be the end of him, but the beginning of a recovery that would make him a most powerful servant of God in history. Peter needed to listen a little more to God’s words, and a little less to his own thinking clouded by unpredictable emotions.
Look at 15:1-15. The evil council of priests bound Jesus and led him away to Pilate for execution. They had no power to execute anyone. So they came to Pilate to help them in their wicked plan. Pilate too, was too overconfident. He too thought he was too clever to be swayed and coerced by others. He did not know that this was no ordinary trial. He did not know that he could not use his worldly wisdom to solve this issue. He did not know that the battle was on the spiritual front where swords and worldly wisdom and strategies don’t work! Pilate thought he was knowledgeable. But he knew nothing when it came to the spiritual world. Now Jesus stood before him, an innocent man— hated by priests who were jealous. Pilate knew that Jesus should be found innocent, set free and provided Roman protection. But instead of holding on to the truth Pilate decided to play the game of compromise. He had no idea that compromise was the tool of the devil, and that once he decided to compromise, it would be a road to destruction from which there is no return.
Pilate compromised. He did not stand on the truth. So Pilate felt trapped. He felt trapped by his own words and his own compromise. He tried to get free from the trap he had set for himself. But no matter how hard he tried, there was no way out now from the clutch of compromise. So he finally gave in. Finally, he raised his hands in defeat and surrendered to the will of the crowds to crucify Jesus. He was the man who was supposed to protect the innocent. But he became the man who gave up his principles in order to hold on to his position as a governor.
Jesus was tried in disgrace for our sake that he might give us new life— a new beginning— a life and existence in truth— and a promise of eternal life in the kingdom of God. Jesus said in verse 62: “‘I am!” “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’” We need to take these words to heart and live by the truth of God awaiting his return. We need to also remember that Jesus was tried for our sins, to offer us the gift of repentance, and forgiveness, so that we might live in the truth for his glory.