Saturday, October 1, 2016

Jesus Provides .. Himself!--by Linden Malki

We've been looking at the "I AM" statements that Jesus made to teach us  how God works. Most of them are provisions that are part of everyday life, that He endows with a sacramental meaning.  For example,  bread is not only something that we eat as daily sustenance,  just as  He gave the Israelites the miracle of manna in the wilderness; but  He also gave it to us as a reminder that it stands for His body given for us in the commemoration of the Last Supper.  Not only is He the Bread, but also the fruit of the Vine as a symbol of His shed blood.  He gives us this basic picture of His death.

Another basic symbol of how God runs His Kingdom is the lamb (something of significant value to the shepherd) as a substitute  payment for sin; and Jesus the Shepherd gave not just a lamb, but Himself as the Lamb of God, the only truly worthy sacrifice. This might be reaching a bit, but part of the Passover event is the placing of the sacrificial lamb's blood on the doorpost to identify His people as exempt from the last and most horrible plague, and Jesus as the guardian of the Door identifies His people whose sins are covered by His blood.

There is another part of daily life that Jesus claims--we don't have an I AM quotation as such, but He told the woman at Jacob's well that He "gives living water." (John 4). God used water to purify the earth at the time of Noah, and parted bodies of water for Moses and Joshua to get His people where they needed to be. Jacob met his favorite wife by helping her water her family's sheep, and Moses met his mentor and eventual father-in-law that way as well. Water was used to wash away sin and guilt in the original Law, and this ritual use of washing grew into the practice of baptism, which became a symbol of His followers' death to sin and rising to eternal life.

The other things that Jesus identifies with are not physical objects, but are even more important. We see that He is the giver of Life, more powerful than Death.  The other two are two sides of a coin: the Way and the Truth.  We cannot find the Way if we don't recognize Truth.  The Way is defined by Truth, and is only found by Truth. There may appear to be other ways, but without Truth, they are literally dead ends.  We often hear people quote John 8:32 as "The truth shall set you free."  This is only half the story; look at the rest: "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples; you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." And what is the Truth? It is Jesus Himself: "I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life; no man comes to the Father but by Me."
Just off the northwest coast of Normandy in France stands Mont St Michel, a island mountain crowned by an ancient abbey (monastery and church) that is only connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway.  Like Heaven itself, there is only one Way to reach this House of God.

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