What difference does it make, to know who God is? We can give God many names to satisfy what we think about Him, but that doesn’t add to our knowledge of Him.
There once was a man named Moses who asked this question: Who is God?
God had chosen Moses to lead Israel out of Egyptian bondage. Moses asked, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”
I mean, really, who would believe Moses, or for that matter, follow him in rebellion, if Moses couldn’t identify the one who sent him?
God’s answer is completely without ambiguity. God is the one and only, and beside Him there is no other.
“I am who I am,” God responded. God is to be known as the One who Is, Was, and Always Will Be.
There are not many gods, but one. This is called monotheism and it is a basic tenet of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
In our world today there are many voices calling out to us, “follow me.” Identifying them and calling them by name will help us understand that they are false gods. God sets the record straight in Isaiah 43:10-11, “know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior.”
In the gospel of John, the Jews are arguing with Jesus about their right to be called sons of Abraham, meaning that God had chosen them to inherit His kingdom.
Jesus astounds them by saying that Abraham rejoiced to see Jesus inviting people into the kingdom of God.
How is this possible, because Abraham lived 2000 years before Jesus was born? Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I Am.”
For Jesus to say that He lived before Abraham was fantastic, but it wasn’t worthy of being stoned, which is what the Jews were prepared to do. Jesus’ statement is an explicit self-identification with the God of Abraham. To paraphrase, Jesus is saying, I am your God. I am He who chooses whom He will. The decision about who belongs to God belongs to Jesus.
You can call yourself whatever you want: a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew or even a good person. It doesn’t matter. You can call yourself a hamburger for all the difference it is going to make. There is only one whose opinion matters. He is God and you are not. He is the ultimate decision-maker. He is the one who chooses people to inherit eternal life in His kingdom. When we know who He is, everything changes.
Jesus demonstrates for his disciples that they are to serve one another. He washes the feet of the disciples, including Judas who will shortly betray Him, telling them it is all done in accordance with Scripture. Jesus quotes to them from Psalm 41, “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.” It is as if the psalmist knew Jesus and had seen the day of his betrayal.
All of Scripture speaks to Jesus in this way. We should be amazed upon reading the very first words of John’s gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus is the Word of God. He Is, Was, and Always Will Be. He came to us in the flesh, not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
It makes a difference knowing who Jesus is. It makes a difference in you. It makes a difference in the world. And it makes a difference to God. “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).
Jesus is clear about who He is. Think what you want about yourself, but what ultimately matters is what Jesus thinks about you. He loves you and wants you to know Him as your God.
The Rev. Neil L’Hommedieu is pastor of Blue Mountain Baptist Church. You may reach him at 509-527-0691. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.