Scripture: John 18:6 CEB
“When he said, “I Am,” they shrank back and fell to the ground.”
When we were living in Jacksonville and the girls were much younger, I was serving at a large church as the Executive Pastor and the girls went to preschool at the church and were very involved in the children’s ministry. In other words, they were at the church just a little less than I was. This always led to some very interesting conversations with adults. One time I walked up on a conversation between one of my daughters and a member of the church. The conversation was beginning to get a little heated on my daughter’s end. The member of the church kept telling her, “Your dad is a pastor.” My daughter would reply in a very agitated voice, “No, he’s a man!” They went back and forth at this for a little while, the church member thinking this was funny. The conversation finally ended when my daughter very loudly and insistently yelled, “He’s a pastor-man!” The conversation was over because she was right. Indeed, I was a pastor-man.
In my life I have been called many things—son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, student, graduate, friend, fiancé, husband, father, Christian, and pastor. Yes, there are other things I chose to leave off the list. However, all the things I did mention apply. In a very real sense they are who I am. Out of the list I shared there is truly one name that defines who I am—Christian. First and foremost, we are to be followers of Jesus Christ who are centering our lives on loving God and loving neighbor. My relationship with God comes first. The second name in my life is husband. My relationship with my wife is the second most important relationship in my life. Then comes father; my relationship with my daughters is the next most important relationship. After these comes my role as pastor. I am a pastor by vocation and calling, which means that I have been called to be set apart for the role of pastor in the church. It is a part of who I am, but it is not all of who I am. It is important to know who you are.
In the verse for today from The Gospel of John, those who have come to arrest Jesus are asked a question. Jesus asks for whom they have come and they tell him they have come for Jesus, the Nazarene. Jesus responds by answering, “I Am.” Jesus uses the same name that God gave to Moses. Jesus has literally said, “The I Am is here.” This is who Jesus is! Jesus is the second person of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and when he proclaims this in the garden the Roman soldiers and those who had come with them “shrank back and fell to the ground.” The ones who came to arrest him could not help but be overwhelmed in presence of the One who was sent for this very purpose. After all, it was this day (Holy Thursday) in the upper room where Jesus prepared his disciples for this moment. He had been preparing them for three years. Now the moment had come, and Jesus claims clearly who he is—I Am.
What will be our reaction to Jesus' claim? Today, this Holy Thursday, will we shrink back and fall to the ground in the knowledge of who Jesus is? Or will we go boldly into the day knowing that by grace through faith in Jesus Christ we are his followers called to live for Him? Both reactions are worthy responses to the knowledge of who Jesus is. Last thing—because we know who Jesus is, we also know who we are! We are Christians! Sons and daughters of the most high God. You are a child of God and a person of great worth. Live today in the knowledge of who you are and do great things in the name of Jesus Christ—I Am!
Prayer: Holy God, you are the great I Am. You are Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—the three in one. Because of Jesus I know for certain who I am—a child of God. Empower me through the power and presence of your Holy Spirit to live in this knowledge today. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.