JESUS SAID, "I AM"
In Exodus 3, God revealed to Moses his sacred name: I Am who I Am. The name in Hebrews is just four letters, and we write in English as “The LORD.” Our God is not just any old God. He is the LORD I AM, the one who is pure being and pure freedom, pure potential: I will be who I will be. The ancient Hebrews reverenced this name as infinitely holy.
The fourth Gospel, however, places this name on the lips of Jesus as a way he identified himself. The shock to a Jewish audience cannot be overstated. “Before Abraham was, I am,” (John 8: 58) Jesus declared. No wonder they picked up stones to kill him for blasphemy! They knew Jesus knew what he was saying.
Seven other times in John, Jesus made “I am” statements attached to a particular image which explained his person and work. “I am . . . the door, the way, the resurrection, the vine, the life, the bread of life, the good shepherd and the light of the world.” The mighty God in flesh came to be known through these basic images.
This week, we consider one of the earliest mosaics in Ravenna. It depicts Jesus as the Good Shepherd. His face is beardless and young, though clearly powerful. He affectionately feeds a sheep from his own hand. This is not a detached God, a shepherd by proxy. He is among his sheep. His staff is the cross, by which he has cleansed us from sin and protects us from evil. The placidity of the flock, set against a peaceful backdrop of deep blue, reveals that they each know how the shepherd calls them by name and leads them gently through the world. The great I Am is our tender guardian.
The Light of the World
Day 15 Sunday
EXPLORE THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
For us there is one God, the Father,
from whom are all things and for whom we exist,
and one Lord, Jesus Christ,
through whom are all things and through whom we exist (1 Corinthians 8: 6).
JOHN 1: 4-5
In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
JOHN 1: 9-13
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
JOHN 8: 12
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
The contrast between light and dark strikes deep in the human soul. Across times and cultures, the night represents stumbling, lostness, fear and death. Light represents hope, direction, healing and life.
From earliest childhood, we long for light to shine in the darkness to dispel our fears, give us safety and bring a better day. John’s Gospel boldly begins with the recognition that humanity is in the dark and under the power of darkness. But Jesus has come to shine his light and so give us his life.
Could you come up with at least three endings to this sentence:
If Jesus is the light of the world, it means. . . .
In which areas of darkness would you particularly like Jesus to shine this day?
PRAY THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
Begin with the Jesus Prayer. Pray it reflectively several times, for yourself or on behalf of another.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Then pray the day’s prayer slowly and repeatedly for at least a minute (that’s about seven times). Allow the prayer to take you into the meaning of the day’s facet of Jesus’ name. Pray it for yourself and/or on behalf of another. Take your time and trust this process!
Lord Jesus Christ, Light of the World, shine in the darkness of my heart
and light the way before my feet.
LIVE INTO THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
He has granted to us his precious and very great promises,
so that through them you might become partakers of his divine
nature . . . For this very reason, supplement your faith with
virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness,
brotherly affection and love (2 Peter 1: 4-7).
JOHN 12: 35-36a
So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
MATTHEW 5: 14-16
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Jesus alone is the true light of the world. But he also called his disciples the light of the world. We catch fire from his flame. We shine with his life within us. We illumine dark places with the love of the gospel.
When have you felt especially called upon to be light in a dark place?
Into which dark places will you go this week with the light of Christ?
How will you pray to let that light shine more brightly?
Close by singing the words to this simple yet deep worship song,
Light of the world,
You stepped down into darkness,
Opened my eyes, let me see.
Beauty that made this heart adore you,
Hope of a life spent with you.
Here I am to worship,
Here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that you’re my God.
You’re altogether lovely,
Altogether wonderful to me.
Chris Tomlin. Here I Am to Worship. 2009.