In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
At least till He sent forth His Son, born of a woman. Then, there, at that time, He did a brand new thing. Not just sustaining the world as is. But saving the world from what is. This is the second person of the Trinity’s purpose! To recreate the world in His own image, by His own death and resurrection. To regenerate mankind through faith in Him, slaying them and making them alive. Stamping His image on them. Breathing a new spirit into them, even while their yet dead flesh is being sustained in this dying world by the creating and sustaining Father.
Something simultaneous is going on. You are simultaneously dead to God spiritually on account of your sins. This means you can do nothing to please Him. Not one instinct in your dying flesh even yearns for Him. The old man of sin in you can not be reformed, changed, or taught to be nice. He must be crucified. Without a spiritual impulse toward the Father you are dead to God, even while your physical life is sustained by the Father. But you, dear Christian, even while you are dead in sin and transgressions are also declared right, forgiven, and alive to God through this saving One. Dead and alive. All at the same time. A mystery. A godly mystery. Worthy of God Himself. Found only in the heart of God. In the Son of God. Glorious. Mysterious. Unexplainable, but worthy of being shouted from the roof tops!
The disciple whom Jesus loved, John, loves to delve into and play with these mysteries of God. They can`t really be explained. They can just be declared and celebrated. And so He imbeds seven miraculous signs in His Gospel. He also imbeds seven major “I am” statements into His Gospel. The way our Lord said “I am” in Greek was utterly offensive to any Jew in His day. For the way He chose to form those words was the specific way the Old Testament expresses the most hly name of God.–“I am that I am” in Hebrew, ego eimi in Greek, literally “I I am”. Nobody who wasn’t God spoke like that. That meant, whenever our Lord utters this phrase you either acknowledge that He is God, or you consider Him a madman and blasphemer! To cap it off, He uttered both uttered seven distinct statements of “I am” and performed seven miraculous and very public signs. Did our Lord utter more than seven “I am”s? Possibly. Did He do more than seven miracles? Most definitely. But John tells us that these signs are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name! (20:30)
The signs prove Jesus is the Son of God. Our world has become so individualistic we miss the significance of this. This makes our Lord equal to God. i.e, He is God. “I am” is the holy name of God. Is it a coincidence that John records seven statements and seven signs that prove this? I think not.
It is tempting then to try to pair the seven signs and the seven statements together. Many of the pairings are obvious. “I am bread of life,” was uttered just after our Lord fed 5000 showing that He is the living bread. He says, “I am the resurrection and the life,” just before He raises Lazarus from death showing that He is so alive that He controls and reverses death our ancient foe. He says, “I am the gate of the sheep,” and just happens to heal a paralysed man by the Sheep Gate of Jerusalem showing that only by Him can anyone have power to enter into the Father’s sheepfold. He says, “I am the true vine,” having performed His first sign at a wedding where He turned water into wine which, of course, only a vine can do. He says, “I am the light of world,” the light so powerful it can pierce the darkness of a man born blind. He says, “I am the Good Shepherd who lays down my life for the sheep.” Thus, He gathers His scared sheep out of mouths of the wolves by walking over water, the place of death and chaos, to save them. He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” And publically confirms that to a government official who was on his way home, when his servants confirmed truth of Jesus' words, "Your son will live.” (At the seventh hour, no less).
What does all of this mean for you? Your Lord and saviour is God! What He says of you defines reality. Not just the “reality” in your head. Real, actual, factual, objective reality. It is hidden to be sure. It is not yet realized by anyone in this world, or seen by anyone, except by faith. In faith you realize and trust what He speaks of you and to you. But you do not get to see it until the Last Day when the new heaven and new earth are revealed and you will cast off your mask and your beggars costume. Setting aside this corrupted flesh with its sin and weakness and disease. And you will be revealed as the overcoming child of the King. The apple of His eye that He has declared you to be.
Right now you are that only by His declaration of you. But, simultaneously, your physical reality, and the reality of your thoughts, actions and desires show you that you are soiled by sin. You are anything but that the righteous, perfect child of God He declares you to be. But don’t let physical reality fool you. Don`t be such a fool as to think that physical realities are all there are. Remember that even while your sinful flesh rails against the new man of faith in you, you are simultaneously declared righteous by the great I AM, the creator and redeemer of the world! What the Word of God in the flesh speaks IS. When He said, “Let there be light.” There was light. When He says, “Let _fill_in_your_own_name_ be righteousness and pure." There is righteousness and purity for you. He who healed a man’s dying son with a word is your way to the Father, your truth from the Father, and your life hidden with the Father. His Word imparts the way to Zion, the truth of all things, and life eternal.
What more is there to say but Amen!
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON