It probably would be easy to overstate the connection, in part because they are found in different languages and separated by centuries, but there is an interesting link between our reading from John today and the encounter that Moses has with the burning bush in Exodus 3.
Jesus is speaking to the crowds in Jerusalem and says, “’I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.’ They said to him, ‘Who are you?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Why do I speak to you at all? I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the one who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.’ They did not understand that he was speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he…’” (John 8:24-27). Twice in these verses Jesus uses the expression “I am” (which is translated as “I am he” in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible). As you may recall when Moses challenged God over the divine identity, “God said to Moses, ‘I Am Who I Am.’ (God) said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I Am has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14).
Like God’s appearance in the bush that burned but was not consumed, Jesus’ ministry among the people was not easy for them to understand. Like the promise of God to be an active presence in the journey to the promised land, Jesus is establishing a presence among the people as a call to discipleship. Just as God is not universally believed or trusted during the Exodus, Jesus, too, will be condemned by many who will doubt his words and accuse him of sedition. But in each case GOD IS: a guiding, provident hand for the people; a preacher, teacher, and healer; the Savior and Redeemer; the source of light and life. Even now God’s claim remains true and worthy of acceptance. In all the various situations of our lives God speaks to us and says, “I Am.”
Prayer: God, we thank you for your grace and your presence in our lives. Bless us this day as we seek to serve you by serving others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.