Written by Bernard Long
I Am the Bread of Life! John 6:35
I Am the light of the world! John 8:12
I Am the Good Sheppard! John 10:11
I Am the Resurrection and the life! John 11:25
I Am the vine you are the branches! John 15:1
I Am the way the truth and the life! John 14:6
I Am meek and humble of heart! Matthew 11;29
Jesus over and over tells us who he is starting with the term “I Am”. Why and what does it mean to us? Scripture accounts that Jesus on several occasions was tempted to turn away – not be the messiah, the suffering servant, not to be the” I Am” his Father called him to be. In Matthew 16:23 Peter tries to dissuade Jesus from suffering and dying. Clearly this is something that the human side of Jesus would be tempted to avoid. Jesus uses the strong words to Peter “ get behind me Satan”. In Matthew 4:1-11 Satan himself tempts Jesus to use his Godly powers but Jesus resists “Do not put the Lord your god to the test”. In Mark 15:30 on the cross Jesus is tormented with epitaphs to come down from the cross – “he saved others why not save himself”.
All of these temptations were an attempt to have Jesus turn away from who he was. So Jesus over and over again in using the term I AM was letting everyone know who he was but also grounding himself in saying yes to the father’s will. He was being the person he was called to be. He never said no to the will of the Father. We say no to the Father when we are not the person God created us to be.
How do we be the I AM that God created us to be? We do this by first examining our life. In examining who we are it is important to recognize that often there are identities, personas we have taken on that we may not even be aware of that may be keeping us from being the person that God is calling us to be. These can be a source of frustration- living up to some identities or personas that are not of Jesus.
It is interesting that word persona is defined as a social role or character played by an actor. It is a word derived from Latin which originally was referred to a theatrical mask. Often we have unknowingly taken on masks that we are not aware of that hide the person who the Lord created us to be.
I had wonderful parents but things happen in the course of events that unintentionally can cause you to take on identities or personas that are not really you. My father was a great guy and one of my heroes in my life. However when I was real young I was not a very good student. The nuns would tell my mother and father that I was very silly in school and did not pay attention etc. Like all parents they talked to me and encouraged me and scolded me to do better but all the while never came down too hard on me. However I felt their disappointment.
When I was nine years old I began playing baseball and found that at least the little league level I could naturally throw a baseball faster than most kids my age. The success I had in little league as a pitcher caused my father to gush over me. I would hear him brag to my relatives and be at all the games. I absolutely loved all the attention. I was finally good at something. Being a good ball player became my identity – my persona. That is what made me loveable. That is the first thing I spoke about when asked about myself. It was how I perceived I was viewed by my friends and by my relatives.
One time when I was twelve years old I was pitching in a little league all star game. My father unbeknownst to me invited numerous relatives to the game. I can still remember standing on the pitcher’s mound looking up on a hill that surrounded the field and seeing all those relatives looking down. Well I did not do well – in fact I gave up two home runs and I was mortified. There was to be a big barbecue after the game. Everyone was to gather and some awards were given etc. When the game was over I did not go to meet with my father or the relatives. In fact I ran away from the field and walked home (long walk) without even telling my father where I was. I could not face him or those relatives. I was mortified. I felt I lost the only thing I was good at – it was my persona. I subconsciously felt that it was the only thing that made me special.
Most of us have identities or personas placed on us or have ones we have taken on that often we are not aware of or even conscious that they are there. Maybe you have made mistakes in your life and now you view yourself as a loser. Maybe you always have had to be strong and should not cry. Maybe you were the person who had to fix things, and could not delegate anything – you had to do it yourself. Maybe you were pressured to get A’s in school –so you expect perfection from yourself and others. Or maybe unjust things happened in your life and you feel there is no justice in this world so you have to get revenge on those who hurt you. Or maybe you see yourself as a victim. Maybe you always have to be funny – the class clown – the life of the party. Think about it. In silence examine your life and make a decision. Am I the person, the I AM, that God is calling me to be?
Many of us have people that have had a special impact on our lives. The person in your life who believed in you when no one else would, or who helped you when things in your life were not going well or who forgave you when you hurt them, inspired you to live a life of faith etc. My mother recently passed away. She was a great lady. Not in any way perfect but a great lady. She was in many ways not very talented in things that are valued in modern society. She was not well educated or particularly smart, nor was she physically strong. But she was good at being kind and loving and forgiving and being softhearted. She was the most faith filled person I have ever known. She had this wonderful child like faith. Her Catholic/Christian faith was the cornerstone of her life and she and my father viewed it as a precious inheritance to be shared with her children. I believe she was the “I Am” that Jesus called her to be.
So ask yourself who am I? Shed personas that are not of Jesus. Be the person – the “I AM” that Jesus Christ is calling all of us to be.
The Author of this piece is Bernard Long