Monday, June 16, 2008

Who is Jesus?

I have often marveled at the voweless pronunciation by the Jewish people of God’s revealed name given to Moses. This name of God is termed the Tetragrammaton and was known as YHVH in Hebrew which literally means “I AM”. The difference between this name and the multiplicity of names given to God based on His attributes is that this one is the name God gave himself and all other names are names man gave to God. However, this is not why it could not be uttered in its full pronunciation. I thought it was because of respect or fear of God in regard to His holiness that this name could not be used, but there is a greater reason. No one could utter it because by doing so they claim to be God. It was, thus, blasphemous to utter the full name: the common rendition as Yahweh or Jehovah (YHVH) is not the original pronunciation.

For example, using English, if someone asked who God is, and you reply “I AM”. You are claiming something outrageous. Everyone knows if you say that you are either insane, or lying. This is the linguistic equivalent of what it would have been like in the Hebrew to make this statement.

What’s most exciting is that when Jesus authority was questioned he said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” What a shock this statement was to the Pharisees! They picked up stones to stone him! Why? Because He just uttered the name above all names as His own! He just claimed to be God for all Jews knew they were not worthy to even fully say or write this name. This was blasphemy at its highest level, unless it was true and Jesus’ authority rest in the fact that He is God.

John 8:58-59 "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.”

To borrow from C.S. Lewis, either Jesus is a Liar, a Lunatic, or Lord. He can never be simply a good man for good men aren’t lunatics or liars. One day a rich young ruler called Jesus good, and Jesus responded, “Why do you call me good? There is none good, but God alone” (Mark 10:18). Jesus didn’t say this to discount His goodness. He said it to affirm to this man that he was indeed identifying Him as God. No one could make the claims Jesus made, without being God. Logic dictates three choices: liar, lunatic, or Lord.

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