Today’s chapter takes us to the final night of Jesus’ life. By the next time the sun sets, he will be dead. Jesus shares in the Passover meal and goes to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane before he is arrested. John’s account of this evening includes a final prayer given by Jesus (John 17).
After he was arrested, Jesus was taken to see Caiaphas and the rest of the priests in Jerusalem. They all raised testimony against Jesus. Most of them were false or inconsistent. But Caiaphas comes forward and asks Jesus a simple question, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” (14:61 NASB). He was effectively asking Jesus, “Who are you?” Jesus’ answer to this question causes the priests to tear their clothes and say “Blaspheme!” Why? I believe this goes beyond Jesus simply answering the affirmative.
Jesus’ answer says more than just answering Caiaphas’ question. It is structured in a way that the Sanhedrin (all the priests) would fully understand what he was saying. It goes all the way back to Exodus 3. Moses is on Mt Sinai after he has been away from Egypt for years. God encounters him through the burning bush. Moses asks God essentially the same question Caiaphas asks Jesus, “Who are You?” They both answer, “I AM!”
This is why the priests react so much. Jesus effectively placed himself on the same level as God! This has become one of the basic principles of Christianity; Jesus was both fully man and fully God. This was not something understood by the priests at that time.
I recently read a book by an inspiring pastor called I Am Not But I Know I AM. In this book, he takes the story from Exodus 3 and claims that since God’s name is “I AM” ours must be “I am not”. This becomes a powerful reminder of where our standing is in relation to God.
However Jesus was able to take on the name “I AM” because he was God. This was something that the Old Testament priests couldn’t understand. So praise God today for all the things He has done for us. It even includes living a life as a human, to be rejected by humans, and killed by humans. He died a sacrificial death, so that we may live! There is no greater act of love than this. God loves you, Jesus loves you, now let’s spend some time loving on Him today!