4 Easter 12
“I am the Good Shepherd. I am the Bread of Life. I am the Living Bread. I am the Light of the World. I am the Gate.” These are some of the “I am” sayings of Jesus. Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. “I am the Good Shepherd,” Jesus says.
We have no idea however how bone jarring these expressions were in Jesus' time. Jesus was using the sacred words “I am” to describe himself – the very name of God revealed to the the Hebrews through Moses at the Burning Bush. These words (I am) were so sacred to them that they would not even speak them, not even pronounce them. The Hebrew name of “Yahweh” never passed their lips.
So when Jesus called himself “I am” their very bones were jarred. Consider this exchange from John
Chapter 8. Jesus is speaking to the Jewish leaders:
"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." The Jews therefore said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple.”
We have no real equivalent today. For me, sometimes when I hear the Spanish name “Jesus” (Heysus) spoken I am bit shaken. This is the name of Jesus. It is a perfectly good Spanish name and parents who name their child “Jesus” do that child great honor. But still, to me, it is sometimes hard to hear this name used.