Readings: Exodus 3:13-15, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, John 8:51-59, John 18:1-11, 1 Corinthians 8:5-6
Three times a day, every day, the people of Israel would repeat a prayer called the Shema, which would begin with these words:
Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. . . .
Notice that three times in just the very first lines of this prayer, we are reminded of one all-important thing: who God is.
Three times: He is the LORD.
In our Bibles (at least in mine, which is New American Standard), "LORD" in all capitals is a substitution for God's proper name, which He revealed to Moses at the burning bush - "I AM" or, transliterated from Hebrew, "Eh-yeh." (We call Him "Yah-weh," meaning "He is.") This Name is so sacred that traditionally it has been replaced with another word or purposely misspelled to protect it from flippant use.
This Name comes from the Hebrew verb which means "to be." And twice in the book of John, to the utter horror of the Jews who made sure to treat it so carefully, Jesus claimed it as His own - most shockingly at His betrayal, when the chief priests looked for Jesus of Nazareth and He answered, "I AM."
He is what?
He is - that is, He exists perpetually. He is the Existing One.
He is . . . - that is, He is something beyond our comprehension. He is . . . ?
He IS ___ - that is, whatever characteristics He may possess, He is that. If He is loving toward us, the He is love - He is what it is made of, the ultimate standard, and the only One who is consistent, perfect Love at every moment. Likewise, if He is just toward us, then He is justice. If He is holy at all then He defines holy. Whatever He is, He is. "I AM THAT I AM."
And when Jesus said in the Garden of Gethsemane, "I AM," He claimed equality with this Yahweh as His identity.
Who God is = who Jesus is.
And this brings us back to the first lines of the Shema: "The LORD is our God, the LORD is One." For the Jews, this was the ultimate evidence of the Christ's blasphemy, the perfect charge with which to capture Him - that He claimed to be Yahweh when there could only be one Yahweh. But Paul answered this in his letter to the Corinthians:
For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one LORD, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.
1 Corinthians 8:5-6
The LORD is One - He is God the Father, for whom we exist, and Christ the LORD, through whom we exist.
He is . . . ?
He is ___.
One thing is for certain: He is not like us.
So come, let us adore Him - Christ, the LORD.