Jesus said, “Who are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I Am.” When he said, “I Am,” they shrank back and fell to the ground. He asked them again, “Who are you looking for?” They said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus answered, “I told you, ‘I Am.’ – John 18:1-11
THE DAY BETWEEN:
I’m posting a little extra this weekend because Easter is so critically important, and the good news is, well, too good not to share.
People like to wave branches on Palm Sunday, and then tomorrow (Easter Day) is always one of the best-attended worship services of the year. But what about in-between? Did Maundy Thursday (the Last Supper), or Good Friday have any impact on your soul? And what about today? Today is a tough one to process because it marks the time between crucifixion and resurrection and it must have been just about impossible to endure for those who did not know how the story was going to turn out.
Some of us from Wake Forest Presbyterian Church did meet for worship Friday evening to remember Good Friday, and to meditate on the meaning of the cross.
There was a lot of scripture, and John’s gospel tells the story with such power; so it was impossible not to be confronted by the raw emotion and brutality of the account.
There’s just one particular moment that I want to lay in front of us today, something that will – hopefully – contribute to our sense of actually being ready to properly celebrate the resurrection tomorrow morning.
“I AM” –
I was in the pulpit, reading from John 18, verses 1-11. It’s the section about the arrest of Jesus. As the story unfolds, Jesus asks the approaching brute-squad who they are looking for. “Jesus the Nazarene,” they say.
The reply Jesus makes is priceless. Priceless and also dangerous. The Master didn’t say, “right here…” he didn’t say, “that would be me…” he didn’t say, “I am Jesus, I’m from Nazareth….” Instead, Jesus said, “I AM.”
Then, when they ask for clarification, Jesus says, “I told you, ‘I AM’…”
If you know anything about the history of the Bible story, then you know that in Genesis (the burning bush) God introduced himself to Moses as, ‘I AM.‘” “I AM” is no casual identification.
When Jesus reminds the brute squad of who he is, then his “I AM” puts his life, his death, and then his resurrection, into a context that’s as far-reaching as it is possible to be. This is God-made-flesh dying for us. This is the flashpoint of history. This is huge. This is why Jesus came. This is why Bethlehem, why the Sermon on the Mount, why Jerusalem, why the Passion, why Easter morning, why Wake Forest Presbyterian Church, why hope, why reason, why eternity. This is why we even exist.
This is God-made-flesh dying for us. This is the flashpoint of history. This is huge. This is why Jesus came
If that doesn’t get us to consider how exactly we should respond to Jesus, then I’m not sure what possibly could. Regardless, the cross is our invitation to reconciliation with God; the empty tomb is the only solution for an empty heart; the Great I AM is also the Great Shepherd, the Way, the Truth, and the Life we were created to enjoy….
I’ll see you in church tomorrow.
In love, and because of love – DEREK
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. – Isaiah 53:5-6
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.