Sunday, May 01, 2016

Is Jesus "I Am" to us?

Jesus - the Good Shepherd (Image:
TODAY'S SPECIAL: John 14:1-14

TO CHEW ON: "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'" John 14:6

Jesus' words "I am" remind us of the first time God used that expression to identify Himself. It was to Moses at the burning bush when, after getting the assignment to lead Israel out of Egypt, he demurred. One of his objections (my paraphrase) You haven't even told me Your name (Exodus 3:13).

To that God replied: "'I AM WHO I AM' And He said, 'Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, "I Am has sent Me to you" ' " - Exodus 3:14.

"I am" carries a sense of ever-existence and present existence.

["Am"  in Hebrew—hayah, the word used in Exodus—means to be, become, come to pass, exist, be in existence, abide, remain, continue.
"Am" in Greek—eimi, the word used in John—means to be, to exist, to happen, to be present.]

In John Jesus said "I am" seven times to describe Himself. As God incarnate He combined this phrase with tangible earthly things in a way we humans can understand and to which we can relate. We would call them metaphors:

I am the bread of life - John 6:35.
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 (our reading)
I am the vine - John 15:5.

I love how these seven "I am"s of Jesus in John dovetail with each other. In the one in our reading today Jesus declared Himself "… the way to the Father (for which we need light to find the way, a shepherd to guide us, and a door to enter in). He is the truth about God (for which we need light, and which is a wholesome substance—bread) and the life of God"* (bread, resurrection and eternal life, vine connection). They all work together to express what is almost inexpressible in human terms. They are all parts of the picture that represent truths about God and our possible relationship with Him.

As I consider again who Jesus is in all His fullness, I ask myself, I ask you, have we, are we experiencing His richness? Are we letting Him enter our lives in all the ways He is the essence of what we need? Are we finding in Him the destination of our deepest longings?

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, these metaphors of who You are help me understand You and who you can be to me. Help me to experience their reality in my life today. Amen.

*quote from  Siegfried Schatzmann, study notes in John, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1469.
MORE: Feast of St. Philip and St. James
Today the church celebrates the Feast of Saint Philip and Saint James. Philip's request in our reading "Lord, show us the Father…" (John 14:8) elicited a gentle rebuke from Jesus: "'Have I been with you so long and yet you have not known Me, Philip?'" (John 14:9). Then Jesus went on to explain His oneness with Father (John 14:10-11).

Here is the collect that begins the liturgy of the day:

"Almighty God, who gave to your apostles Philip and James grace and strength to bear witness to the truth: Grant that we, being mindful of their victory of faith, may glorify in life and death the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen."

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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