For some reason, Jesus always felt the need to describe himself:
“I am the good shepherd . . .”
“I am the bread of life . . . ”
“I am the vine . . . ”
“I am the way, the truth, and the life . . . ”
“I am the Alpha and the Omega . . . ”
“I am the resurrection and the life . . . ”
Evidently, we have a hard time understanding him. Sadly, all of those self-descriptive, metaphorical statements don’t seem to make it any more clear to us. I mean, is it possible to be bread and a shepherd?
What’s he talking about, anyway?
Actually, I don’t think we’re all that dense. We really do get it, but we have a hard time applying it.
It’s great that he’s the bread, but when my kids want a sandwich, I’ve got to put bread on the table, and Jesus can be hard to find, not to mention less than appetizing.
Obviously, he knew we’d always have a hard time understanding him and figuring out how to fit him into our lives. He was trying to make himself known in practical, yet transcendent, ways.
We are hungry: He is bread. We are seeking green pastures: He is a shepherd. We want to be productive: He is the vine from which all fruit is produced. We are groping for a clearing: He is the way. We are searching for truth: He is truth. We are dead or dying: He is the resurrection and life.
If you think about it, he really has it all covered.
I believe the trouble we have in applying his point comes from a general discontentment with his answers. We’d be happier if he would just point us toward comfort, or share the recipe for the bread. Instead, he keeps saying, “I am . . .”
We’re reading the words of Jesus – he’s standing right in front of us – and we’re looking past him, over his shoulder, behind him, wondering where the bag of goodies is. Where’s the stuff stashed, anyway? Who’s got the goods? To whom do I need to speak to get this my way?
This is the power of the resurrection, as you think about Easter celebrations.
The power of the resurrection is not in a path to a better life, nor in the present (or forthcoming) joy of my own eternal life. The power of the resurrection is not in the possibility of my own immortality. It is not in the amazing way he stuck it to those Pharisee boys – the underdog coming out on top.
The power of the resurrection is Jesus. He is the resurrection and the life. The life is not only his, it is him.
My desire for a life that’s bigger than the confines of this small world and my temporary maladies, is a desire for him. Jesus is the life I want and need. Jesus is all I have longed for in every breath, and I’ve been looking past him, wondering when the real answer would materialize.
The preservation and sufficiency of my own life cannot be the object of my pursuit, if truth and life are what I’m after. It’s only about me to the extent that he’s looking my way. It’s truly all about him.
Paul, in Galatians 2:20, was right on the money regarding the truth of this idea. This is true, whether I can recognize it or not: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered himself up for me.”