Do you agree that one of the most difficult and important tasks in all of your life is to know yourself? You are the one person who is always with you throughout your life in a unique way and yet can live not seeing who you really are. Untold damage to self and others can be done by not doing this work. If you do not know your neediness you will not seek God. If you do not know your strengths you can abuse them, the list is endless.
So at thirty the Son of Man makes many statements of self-understanding which includes the words “I am”. You have seen in the previous edition that eight of them taken together reveal the inner landscape of his soul. Let me invite you to find some more truths to take to work with you this week.
First, these eight all connect together. The Son of Man is the Light, the Door, the Bread but they are not separate features, they all enhance the other. Here’s how to see this. Ask what kind of light is he? You will soon find that his statement about being eternal (before Abraham was I am) means that his light lasts forever even through death (I am the Resurrection) and light’s your path (I am the Way), shines on the truth and illuminates the Bread.
What kind of Shepherd is he? One who feeds you (with living Bread), guides you (on the Way), takes you through the dark (Resurrection) and protects you.
We could go on but the lesson emerges. Knowing yourself does not mean knowing one part of yourself but seeing how they integrate, connect, communicate and harmonize. When people met the Son of Man they met a whole person.
You are a complex person and it will take a lifetime to meet all your “inner-selves”, you’re inner “I am’s” but as you do you will find that this empowers you to see how the various parts of your nature connect together and can work as an inner team to address your life and work. It will equip you to face a variety of situations using different approaches.
Again, notice that the very fact that the Son of Man spoke these words about himself shows you that he was an open person. It is an intriguing paradox that the more you look in and learn about yourself, the more open you can be with others. You can own your words and reveal your heart because you know yourself. The Son of Man was a self-disclosing character not a hidden soul. This does not make us all extroverts rather we are accessible and available rather than hiding and closed.
Be careful here. The Son of Man had a mystery to him known only to himself. You too will have private aspects of your life but there is a healthy openness in his words which make him knowable. You will be a lot more effective if you are knowable this week even while maintaining your privacy.
This brings me to the last feature that I wanted to point out to you. Here are some words to help you explore it. “Because I AM you can be”. If you apply that phrase to these eight sayings of the Son of Man I suggest to you that the landscape will blossom for you. Here are a few examples.
Because I am the Bread you can be satisfied and you can pass satisfaction to others. Because I am the Good Shepherd you can be safe and secure and you can be caring to others.
Now perhaps you can personalize it even more by adjusting the phrase. Because I am your Light you can be enlightened and because I am your way you can show others the way. Because I am your Resurrection you can face death. Because I am your truth you can know how to live.
You have seen that the I Am always proceeds the I do. Can you now see that his I am precedes what we can be and then what we can do?
So the invitation is to walk into his inner landscape and drink in the sights and sounds, feed on the bread, go through the door, run down the path, learn the truth, be nourished by the Vine knowing that this is an eternal reality which you can experience every week as ‘I am’ becomes ‘I do’.
I am the bread of life. John 6:48
“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” John 8:58
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. John 10:9
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep; 14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— John 10:11, 14
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; John 11:25
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. John 15:1, 5
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