Pastor John Piper on the 'most outrageous thing' Jesus ever said

Theologian John Piper gives a sermon at Passion 2020 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia on Jan. 1, 2020.(Photo: Passion/Kendra Harrell)

Thousands of young Christians descended on Atlanta, Georgia, over the New Year for the annual Passion conference. 

Theologian and popular preacher John Piper was one of the guest speakers over the three-day event hosted by Louie Giglio. 

He focused his address on the name of the Lord as he encouraged the tens of thousands of youngsters gathered at the conference to think more about His renown than their own. 

Citing Isaiah 26:8 - the guiding scripture of the Passion Conferences - he reminded them that God's people are waiting eagerly for the Lord and desiring His name and renown. 

"So yes, Lord, we wait for you. We want You, we desire You. And the reason that I say You and not just Your name or Your fame is, first because that's what the text says — we wait eagerly for You — [and also] because that's what the name means. Your name is Your being in the Bible."

Reflecting further on Exodus 3, in which the name Yahweh appears for the first time and God says "I am who I am", Piper suggested that God's Name and being should be seen as one and the same thing.

"So when you desire the name, you desire the person. When you desire the renown, you desire the fame of the person," he said.

"Now, on this side of the incarnation, He has another name. The name is Jesus. I don't know if you're as amazed as I am by these outrageous things Jesus said."

Turning his thoughts to John 8:58, Piper continued: "The most outrageous thing Jesus ever said was 'Before Abraham was, I am.'

"So when you desire the name and you say, 'Your name and Your fame are my desire.' You mean Yahweh ... who is Jesus." 

He went on to encourage people to go beyond a "private desire" for Jesus, suggesting that a personal faith disconnected from churchgoing is not an option. 

"If it's only you and Jesus, you don't know Jesus," Piper said.

He also warned Christians not to be complacent in their faith because Jesus is coming again.

"The passion for His fame is right there in the verse. Your name and your renown are the desire of our souls. And when we say that His name and His fame are our desire, we don't mean [to say] maybe He'll be famous. There's no maybe about it," he said. 

"There is no maybe about it. If you don't desire it, you won't have it."

He continued: "Nothing is more important in your life than the awakening of this desire. The triumph of this desire over all other desires is the most important thing in your life. If the name and the fame of Jesus the Savior, the Son of God, the King of Kings does not become your greatest desire, you will not only waste your life, you will lose it."