In Matthew 16:36 (New International Version) we read:
Jesus asked His disciples “Who do people say that I am?” and then He asked them: “Who do YOU say that I am?”
Today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the church season of Lent. You may be asking what is the purpose of Lent? Lent is observed as a time of reflection, of repentance and of self-examination which leads up to the celebration of Easter Sunday. It is a time to tune out the noise of the world and tune into the whispers of God’s voice.
Our focus is on the journey Jesus took towards the cross and of His resurrection on Easter. But who is this Jesus that we follow? How would you answer the question: “Who do YOU say that I am?”
“I am who I am”
In Exodus 3:13–14 (NIV) “Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”
With just 5 words, God revealed His identity and also much about His character. He is unchangeable—the same as He always has been and who He always will be.
Continuing with the pattern His Father had set in Exodus, Jesus chose the same two words, “I am,” to reveal His character to us in seven different places in the book of John. In those declarations, Jesus points back to His Father in the Old Testament and further personalizes God’s statement of “I am..”
The Bread of Life…
In John 6:35 (NIV) Jesus says: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
My grandmother and my mother used to bake bread by hand. They mixed and kneaded the dough until it was just right to put into the oven to bake. There is nothing better to eat than a slice of freshly baked bread slathered with butter. And the smell of it baking is heaven on earth! I have an electric bread baker and making bread is much easier than it was for my mom, but the end result still tastes just as good.
It is obvious that Jesus did not literally mean He was the kind of bread I make in my bread baker but what does He mean by this metaphor?
Bread symbolizes sustenance and life. It was a common element in the diet of people in biblical times and it was an image they could relate to. They understood how bread would curb their hunger.
His statement offers a glimpse into who He is. Jesus knew that they needed nourishment and by His words, He was telling them (and us) that He can fulfill all our needs whether physical or spiritual. He can and will satisfy our hunger.
What are you hungry for today? Have you experienced Jesus as the Bread of Life in your personal life?For further meditation on Jesus as the Bread of Life, click here: “Prayers of the People: Bread of Life“
This is the first in a series of posts focused on those seven “I am” statements. Be sure to check back each Wednesday during Lent for the next post in the series.