Luke 21:8 “And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he! and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them.”
We’ve probably heard these words before, but I believe we usually limit their impact on our lives. We zoom in on the literal translation, and miss out on what Jesus is actually offering us here. He was speaking to 1st Century Jews about the coming destruction of the temple, etc. But His words also carry much into our lives as well.
“..many will come in my name…” We’ve lost some of what Jesus is saying here, simply because we usually reduce “name” to that which a person is called by or responds to. The word here (onoma) means so much more than simply someone coming and saying the name “Jesus”. As I’ve posted before to help understand similar texts in the New Testament, we can think of the word “name” in the same sense as “nature”. Think about the nature of Jesus. His nature is to bring healing, restoration, forgiveness, right-ness, and to reveal Truth. To be something we can put our eternal Hope in. Jesus is saying here, “many will come saying this is also their nature”. We see this on a daily basis, in advertising and other areas. Products, people, powers, situations and systems, and “get rich quick” ideas that all offer/promise to be something it makes sense to put our hope or fear in, and receive life from/be anxious over..
May we not be led “off the path” by these things.
Then he ads an extra blow. “..and say, ‘I am he!’ ” Most of our translations say “I am he!” But the actual word here (eimi) does not actually include “he”. It was added to reinforce the “come in my name” statement. The word here is the same used in 1 Corinthians 1:28, “God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are (eimi).”
The literal translation of these words, then, is “come in my name and say, ‘I am‘..”, which says much more that our first glance. It’s not just warning us against people who come and say “I’m Jesus”, or “I’m with Jesus”. It’s warning us against everything that comes and pretends to BE something to worry/concern/live for/give priority and place in our life.
The Christmas season is here again. We can fly right into the deals, ads, and shopping for gifts, because the Christmas shopping season proclaims “I AM”. (sidenote: here’s a great take on the “War on Christmas”) Many of us will spend time with family and friends, and there may be relationship issues and brokenness in our midst that needs forgiveness and healing. We need freedom from these things in our life that are shouting “I AM!!”. Jesus offers us that freedom…and community with others who are living as people made free.
In your life this week, what is shouting “I AM!!”? Jesus offers freedom even now. May God free us, and may we continue to live as those who celebrated their Thankfulness just a couple of weeks ago…