Who Are You Looking For?
A friend of mine used to always say, “A lot can happen in a week.” As a 40-year old husband and father of 5, I couldn’t agree more. Add up the responsibilities of school, sports, work, birthday parties and the guaranteed fact that someone is bound to get sick and I’ve got a pretty full life (but I wouldn’t trade it for the world). But as busy as my weeks often seem it pales in comparison to what Jesus accomplished during the “original Holy Week.”
Who else in history has gone from being welcomed as a hero to quickly turning to the goat, to being sentenced to death, to dying, to being dead, to resurrecting from the dead within the course of 7 days. (And I thought I was busy).
There’s a story sandwiched between the famous last supper and the crucifixion that often gets overlooked but has recently jumped out at me as one of the most powerful of the entire week.
Just to make sure we are all on the same page, here’s my brief summary
The Garden Club
Immediately following the last meal with his 12 friends, Jesus takes 3 of his buddies to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus knew what was about to take place over the next few days and wanted to escape for some time in prayer. He asked Peter, James and John to “keep watch” with him. Unfortunately as Jesus is in the garden praying, his three best friends were just too tired and fell asleep. Jesus returns and basically says, “Hey guys, All I need you to do is stay awake and pray for me, is that too much to ask?”
As much as I’d like to give these three a “How could you?!?!” for abandoning their friend in his hour of need, I completely understand. I’m embarrassed to admit when my wife went into labor with our first son and I was supposed to be timing contractions….I fell asleep. I know, I know.
Ok, back to the story.
About this time, Judas shows up with some soldiers to arrest Jesus. When asked who they were looking for, the soldiers said Jesus. Jesus responded with, “I AM he.”
Now here’s where it gets good.
When Jesus said, “I AM” the soldiers all fell to the ground. Imagine coming to arrest someone and just the power of his voice knocks you down. On top of that, later on in the story, Peter takes out his sword and cuts off the ear of one of the soldiers. Jesus being Jesus, tells Peter to stop and proceeds to pick up the ear and put it back on the man’s head….fully and wholly healed. Now that’s a pretty full night.
(I don’t know about you but if I’m one of the soldiers and I just fell over because someone said “I AM” and I just watched the same guy heal an ear that had just been cut off, I’d probably be a little hesitant to arrest someone. “Ummmm, Mr. Christ. Would you mind coming with us? You know, if you want to….please?”)
The Power of (His) Presence
As many cool things as there are to talk about in this story (I mean Jesus literally put a guys sliced off ear back on) there is nothing more powerful to discuss than the words “I AM.”
As Jesus responded “I AM he” to his captures, he wasn’t just saying “Hey, that’s me.” No, He was reassuring all of us that He never changes. Let me explain.
“I AM” is a present term. It means…current, right now, in the moment. Jesus did not say, “I was” or “I will be” or even “I might be.” No, He confidently said, “I AM.” This changes everything.
One of the biggest problems we 21st century humans face is our ability to be present. We are constantly somewhere between the regrets and memories of the past and the fears and hopes of the future. Rarely are we in the moment.
We are a “I was” or a “I will be” people. But real life begins with “I AM.”
As we go through this life and we struggle to to stay present, Jesus reminds us that He never changes. He is always present. He is always there.
As the bills pile up and we wonder who can help us, Jesus responds, “I AM He!”
As we battle through cancer and we wonder who can provide hope and healing, Jesus responds, “I AM He!”
When a loved one suddenly passes away and we wonder if there is a god, Jesus responds, “I AM He!”
When life makes absolutely no sense and we wonder who we can turn to for help, Jesus responds, “I AM He!”
Finally, when we wonder if we are worth it, if anyone could ever truly love us and see passed the dark hidden secrets we all keep in our hearts, Jesus responds, “I AM He!”
Got Your Ears On?
It wasn’t by accident that Peter cut off one of the soldier’s ears and it certainly wasn’t coincidence that Jesus healed him. Peter could have cut off an arm or a leg or even a head (I’m guessing he probably had bad aim) but it was an ear. Why?
As Jesus picked the wounded soldier’s ear off the ground and lovingly put it back in place, He wasn’t just restoring one man. He was showing all of us how much He wants us to hear him. , He was reminding us that when life is going perfectly and we’ve been blessed beyond measure or when life is out of control and seems too hard to overcome He wants us to hear him say I AM….and I always will be.
Are we listening?