Not only is Jesus drawing attention to himself when he emphasizes the “I” of this statement, but he is making another connection as well. In Exodus 3:14, when Moses asks the Lord what name shall he give to the Israelites as to who is sending him, the Lord says to tell the Israelites that he is “I AM WHO I AM.” In the next verse, God simply tells Moses to tell the Israelites that “I AM sent me.”
The language of “I AM” is important in our understanding of God, for God simply is. He exists independent of time and space, he is boundless and timeless, and he has always existed and always will exist. Before God created the world, God was and only God was. There is nothing that was created that did not have its origins in God’s work and nothing is outside of God’s divine and sovereign control. God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. And by Jesus making the statement, “I, I am…” one of the claims that he is making is that he is the “I AM” of scripture; he is Yahweh having taken on flesh.
Jesus is stating that all of the attributes that we attribute to God belong to him as well. Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and to know him is to know the Father (John 14:7-11). Friends, do you see what Jesus is claiming here? He is making an explicit statement of divinity. He is saying that he is God, the one who created all things and preserved a people for himself, and is all-powerful—and he has chosen to take the way of the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. He is not offering an ordinary sacrifice, but a perfect, flawless, and divine sacrifice for the sins of you and me.
Jesus is preexistent and eternal, and he chose to put aside his rightful glory to walk this earth. He chose to endure the abuse and the spite of our race, yet he is God himself. He chose to suffer and die for sins that did not belong to him, but belonged to us, so that we might come to him. Jesus had all of the agony of Hell dumped on his shoulders so that we might not have to face its fires.
Friends, this is the Gospel in a nutshell—to those who put their faith in Christ as their Lord and Savior, he has suffered in their place and given us a promise of redemption instead. What is sad is there are people in this world who would try and make us believe that Jesus was not really God. Friends, there are many examples where Jesus claims his deity, and this is just one. Rest in the promise that the Lord you serve is God and that he loved you enough to pay the penalty for sin on your behalf. I can think of no more blessed a promise than that.