From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Twenty-Six, Day Three
In Jesus we have the richest, most vivid picture of God imaginable. No longer does God seem implacably remote, displeased with the world he has made. Instead, he bends toward us, sharing our weakness and shouldering our burdens. Through the perfect offering of his life he becomes our Way back to the Father. He is the True Vine in which we abide, bearing fruit for God's kingdom. He is the loving God who will never abandon us, but who will be present with us always, leading us to life eternal.
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. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.' " Exodus 3:13-14
"You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him [Jesus], "and you have seen Abraham!" "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" John 8:57-58
Praying the Name
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:1-6
Reflect On: John 14:1-6.
Praise God: For giving us a way back to him.
Offer Thanks: For the Spirit of God who leads us into all truth.
Confess: Any half truths or lies that you have allowed into your life.
Ask God: To help you to love and recognize the truth.
We sometimes speak of people who lack faith as being lost, which seems an apt description of those who feel aimlessly adrift in a meaningless world. But faith changes us. Belonging to Christ confers a sense of identity and purpose. We become grounded. We know who we are and where we are going. As Paul said, "In him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). Jesus alluded to this when he replied to Thomas's question about the way to the Father's house. Instead of saying, "I know the way," Jesus declared, "I am the way." He is not, then, a kind of Lewis and Clark, leading us on a path he has discovered through the wilderness. He himself is the path.
Jesus also declared, "I am the truth." He didn't say, "I know the truth," or "I teach the truth," though of course he did. The biblical idea of truth is of a reality that is solid, stable, and reliable, something strong enough to support you. Jesus is all of these things. But he is also the truth that challenges the lies we want to believe. It is no wonder that his public ministry lasted so short a time. It is hard for people, after all, to stand so much truth.
Our problems with truth began when our first parents believed the beguiling lie of the serpent: "You will be like God." When they embraced the lie and ate the fruit, Eve and Adam found how very unlike God they were. They became broken, alienated, unreliable, weighed down by sorrow.
Jesus tells us, instead of a beguiling lie, the stark truth — self-sufficiency will land us in hell. Ignoring God will defeat us. Going our own way will destroy us. "Apart from me you can do nothing," he said. "If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned" (John 15:5-6). Either we build our lives on the Truth personified, or we build our lives on something that will not hold us up.
Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Blink, tells the story of a fire department commander in Cleveland, Ohio, who recalled an experience he had as a lieutenant responding to what looked like a routine house fire:
The fire was in the back of a one-story house in a residential neighborhood, in the kitchen. The lieutenant and his men broke down the front door, laid down their hose, and then, as firemen say, "charged the line," dousing the flames in the kitchen with water. Something should have happened at that point: the fire should have abated. But it didn't. So the men sprayed again. Still, it didn't seem to make much difference. The firemen retreated back through the archway into the living room, and there, suddenly, the lieutenant thought to himself, There's something wrong. He turned to his men. "Let's get out, now!" he said, and moments after they did, the floor on which they had been standing collapsed.
The fire, it turned out, had been in the basement.1 What a picture of what can happen to a life that is built on something other than Christ. Things may look normal for a while, but underneath a threat is growing. Sooner or later the whole structure of our life will collapse.
Join me today in asking Christ for the grace to reject the beguiling lies of our culture — that sexual gratification is all important, that life is about the pursuit of money and success, that the individual reigns supreme. Let us remember the words of St. Paul who urges us to set our hearts on things above, where Christ is, remembering that when Christ, who is our life, appears, then we too will appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:1-4).
Two of Ann Spangler's most-loved books have been released in paperback: Praying the Names of God and Praying the Names of Jesus.
These books help us understand the biblical context in which these names and titles were revealed, and help us gain a more intimate knowledge of the Father and of the Son.