God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM” – Exodus 3:14
I AM the living bread – John 6:51
I AM the light of the world. – John 8:12
I AM the door – John 10:9
I AM the good shepherd. – John 10:11
I AM the resurrection and the life. – John 11:25
I AM the way, the truth, and the life. – John 14:6
I AM the true vine – John 15:1
Jesus was not as careful as we might think about concealing his identity as the Son of God. Modern religious academics may argue whether or not Jesus ever claimed to be God, but the first century religious academics knew without a doubt who Jesus claimed to be: I AM, the God of Now. Not a God of history. Not a savior for the future. Not entirely, for he is both. But a God purely of Now.
What does that mean? Warren Wiersbe, famous for his heartwarming lay-level Be Commentaries, unpacks a bit of this mystery by examining the I AM statements of Jesus in this new book Jesus in the Present Tense. Beginning with the God’s statement to Moses in Exodus 3 and working onward through all of Christ’s I AM statements in John’s Gospel and then finally finishing with the concluding statement “I AM Jesus,” Wiersbe paints a colorful tapestry that brings the historical Jesus out of history and into our lives today.
In his classic style, Wiersbe breaks down each of the statements, littering his commentary with anecdotes, stories, and references. He spends time both examining the passage in its context and holding it up to the present to see how that truth still functions today. That discussion builds to a crescendo when Wiersbe discusses how those truths played out in the life of Paul. He then takes that discussion and applies it to believers today. Powerful and convicting, Wiersbe challenges the Christian not to live a cold or lukewarm faith, but to be alive with the power of the Spirit—Jesus in the present tense.
The only things I take issue with this book are minor points. First, Wiersbe and I interpret Paul’s “I Soliloquy” of Romans 7 differently. He holds to this being about Paul’s struggle with his post-conversion while I tend to see it as Paul expressing his futility under the Law pre-conversion. This is admittedly a tough theological issue, and as it’s mentioned as more of an aside than part of a core argument, I don’t take issue with it. Second, Wiersbe speaks as if the worship experience cannot be “fun.” While I understand the contrast to modern entertainment “worship,” neither do I think or work of being dull or dreary. Fellowshipping with likeminded believers…Living in the power of the Holy Spirit…what could be more fun than that?
In conclusion, Jesus in the Present Tense is a great study of the I AM statements of Christ and their application to the present context in the life of the believer. Wiersbe has been gifted with the abilities of a teacher and he uses them well here. Traditionally, the I AM statements have been used to lend credence to Christ’s historical deity, but Wiersbe looks at the statements from a different perspective that places it in the present. We are all the better for it.