How much can you say with 2 words?
How long do you think the sermon would last if I told you: Everything I need to say tonight can be answered with a 2 word phrase?
Years ago a British newspaper asked leaders and other well-known figures to reply to the question: “What’s wrong with the world?” One answer, reportedly sent in by an author of the day, has been widely cited. Maybe you’ve heard this. His brief letter read: “Dear Sirs, I am. Sincerely yours, G.K. Chesterton.”
You and I – we – get what he was saying with those 2 words. Right? Are you the author of anything evil? I am. Are you someone in whom self-gratification has stirred, and disregard for God’s will has followed, and thoughtlessness toward others has been the sad result? I am. Are you a person who has inflicted pain on others, times beyond count really (think not just physical, but emotional)? I am.
Yet even when face-to-face with such evidence, even when giving such testimony from one’s own lips, people often don’t look in the right direction for help.
A documentary was released a few years ago with a 2 word title. You can probably guess the 2 words: “I AM.” It’s by a big time Hollywood film director: Tom Shadyac. Even if you haven’t seen them, maybe you’ve heard of Ace Venture: Pet Detective, The Nutty Professor, Liar Liar, or Bruce Almighty? Those are kind of a slap-stick humor genera. Right? Shadyac took a little different path after an accident left him thinking on a more serious plane. He went on a quest asking two questions: What’s wrong with the world? And, what can be done about it?
Shadyac’s documentary “I AM” is the answer he comes up with. He took the title from Chesterton’s reply to the same question that he asks first in his film: what’s wrong with the world. But I have a hunch that he and Chesterton wouldn’t have seen eye-to-eye on an answer for the 2nd question. Here’s the conclusion the “I AM” documentary arrives at:
“We are what’s wrong” – there’s question one, now on to the answer to question two – “and we need to temper consumerism with compassion, and competition with cooperation to save ourselves and our world.” http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/movie-reviews/2011/07/07/Documentary-I-Am-ponders-What-s-wrong-with-our-world/stories/201107070316
What’s wrong with the world, and how can it be fixed? The film answers “I am” to both. “I am the problem. I am the solution.” Shadyac says, “We started out by asking what’s wrong with the world, and ended up discovering what’s right with it.”
Shadyac is not alone in this conclusion. People all over will voice similar testimony: I know “I am” guilty of so much that is wrong – evil – selfish – I certainly haven’t loved others like I should. But they turn away from the answer God has given from his own lips of...
What can be done about this? What’s the answer for everything for which I am guilty? God says, “Who can be saved? With man this is impossible” – Mark 10:26-27; Psalm 49:7-9. So I am ruled out. I can’t fix what is wrong with me and my world. What can be done then about my sin, my guilt and the verdict of eternal damnation it deserves?
We’re headed to that answer. On the way to it – and connected to it – we encounter a different question that was posed on this night recorded in Luke ch.22. Let’s see how this fits together.
We have the answer here to a topic highly debated in our day. People contend that Jesus never said that he is God. You’ve heard that challenge, haven’t you? There are lots of Bible passages to answer that. One of them is right here. Tonight we’re going to limit ourselves to this one.
Jesus’ enemies serve as witnesses. They confirm the answer Jesus gave to this question: Does Jesus ever say that he is God? “We have heard it from his own lips,” Jesus’ enemies bawl. What had they heard? The answer to the question: “Are you the Son of God?” “I am.”
Wow. Some statements echo through time with such power, clarity, truth and hope. Mark this as one such statement. Jesus tells you: “I am.” The enemies of Jesus do us a service by pointing us to this answer: “We’ve heard it from his own lips – he just said, ‘I am.’”
Where Jesus’ enemies go fatally wrong is their reaction to Jesus’ answer. They ask: “Why do we need any more testimony?” They, instead, should have been begging for more testimony. The question they leave begging-to-be-asked and answered is: “So if you are God” – and we know he had shown that to be true – “why are you here? What’s your reason for stepping into the world you created?”
Ah, there, now we’ve gotten to the heart of everything. What’s the reason God came? What’s the reason he stood trial before these men, and allowed himself to be smacked with these blasphemous responses from his rebellious creations? What’s the reason he allowed his flesh to be pierced, his body to be hung up, his lungs to exhale their dying breath?
Some of you are maybe ready to burst from holding in the answer. Go ahead and say the 2 words with me: What’s the reason God came? “I am.” I am the reason God came. I am the reason he stood trial. I am the reason he went to his death. I am the man that should have suffered the hell which he suffered.
Tonight we hear the evidence: God came. We hear his identity from his own lips. And as we turn to him for more testimony, he tells us why: “I am the only one who could solve your problem. So I came.”
Jesus says: “How can you be saved? With man this is impossible. But with God, all things are possible. God - that’s who I am. To save you - that’s why I’ve come. I am faithful to my promises. That’s a truth you can hear echoed every time you hear my name – the Lord. The Lord, the Great I AM, expresses: I am faithful. That includes both: I am faithful to my justice; I am faithful to my love. The place the two of those perfectly intersect and mesh is my cross. There see: I am punished for all sin – I am the substitute; I am offering all sinners forgiveness and peace. Trust in me,” Jesus says, “I am the only way for you to get to be with me/God eternally” (John 14:1,6).
I was struck when I saw this.
“What’s your story?” someone asks you. That’s like saying, “Who are you?” (Preach the Word, vol.18, no.4).
“What’s my story? Who am I? Well… I am a sinner, who is fully forgiven by the undeserved love God has shown me. I am God’s dearly loved child through faith in Jesus Christ, my Lord. I am confident of the home God has prepared for me, where I will enjoy the freedom and peace with him that will last forever and ever.”
“You sound so sure,” the person replies to your answer. “How are you so certain of all that?”
“I am sure because I have heard the testimony from my God’s own lips. Jesus says… “I am your God. (Luke 22:70-71). … I am the Good Shepherd, I lay down my life for the sheep and take it up again (John 10:11,17). … I am the gate, whoever enters through me will be saved (John 10:9). … I am the resurrection and the life – he who believes in me will live even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die (John 11:25-26).”
His Story is what makes me who I am – His Story is what makes you who you are, brothers and sisters in Christ.
Dear Christians, go home tonight rejoicing: “We have heard it from his own lips.” Amen.
--Pastor Tom Glende