Transcript of sermon
Interesting thing about recognizing someone. There is more than one way to recognize someone. When I was in college, Tahnya (my wife) had worn one of my jackets. We were dating, and she had left for the summer. It was a cool evening, and a bunch of friends were going out for the evening. My good friend Dave was dating his future wife Jen. She didn’t have a jacket, so we pulled one out of my closet. We’re driving down the road and I’m going crazy. I can smell Tahnya’s perfume everywhere. Finally, I figured out the last person who had worn that jacket was my beloved. And the smell evoked powerful memories.
All the senses really can be used to recognize someone. But one of the ones we use the most is hearing. Let’s try this for example. Imagine you coming home, and someone in the house hears you enter. They yell “who is it?” what do you answer? Charles David Porter? No, I say “its me.”
Let’s jump to the book of exodus real quick, and let me fill you in. 400 years ago, the descendents of Abraham had gone down to Egypt. They grew, they became slaves. The worshipped many God, but the chief God they worshipped was this vague figure called “The God of Abraham.” Perhaps a canaanite diety perhaps from where Abraham had come from. They didn’t know where this God had come from, who is was, but he was important.
A guy named Moses is born. Grows up a prince, ends up a murderer on the run for 40 years in the desert. Not a real successful guy, at 80, he’s still the one tending sheep. He’s walking around and comes on this bush and its not burning up. If you grew up in church, you know this story. You know, who’s in the bush. Its God. Right. Our God. Its what theologians call a Theophany. Its an appearance of the divine. God says take off your shoes, and some other stuff.
Finally, moses says to this God “who are you?” I hate that don’t you? I mean, every week here at the Ocean, I end up saying “ I know I should know you, but who are you? What’s your name?” Next week, I hope we can all wear those stickers, Hello, my name is. Just for a couple weeks.
And God answers this
1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”
4 When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said, “Here I am.”
5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Then he said, “I am the God of your father,[a] the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
13 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?”
14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.[c] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
OK, that’s really clear. So I go tell these guys.. I AM sent me. And this name, this contruction, is what we call today Yahweh. I AM. And God told moses, this is the name you will call me throughout all generation. I AM. Simple. Sort of like saying “Its me.” Common moses, you ought to know me. Its me. I AM. No more description needed.
Then for the next 40 years, the Israelite people wandered around the desert, and this I AM God takes care of them. He feed them, he leads them, he teaches them to worship. And their religion very soon gets very complex. For hundreds of years, God, I AM, its me, tries to show these people what he’s like. But they continue to rebel. And if you carefully read the text, its only after the Babylonian exile that the Jews truly become a monotheistic culture. They finally got it. There wasn’t another God. And this came in a world where to only believe in one God actually made you an atheist. For the jews, there was no bigger sin than claiming you were God. It was the worst thing you could do.
Then along comes Jesus, and Jesus really ticks the Jews off. Because he makes some outlandish claims. He claims God is his father. He claims I and the Father are one. He claims he has seen God and lived. He claimed he was before Abraham. Why, because to the Jew, to claim “I AM” equates yourself with God.
Now, we have to understand something here. The book of John, where most, but not all of these I AM statements are found, was written much later. It was written because there was a wind blowing in the early church that questioned the deity of Christ. John could see where things were going, and he, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote down some things to fill in the picture if you will.
And so here is my premise today. God introduces himself as I AM. Its me. But that’s too personal for the Jewish people. God is too holy, too powerful, too pure, too unapproachable. You want me to call you by your first name? No, I can’t do that. I have to call you pastor. That way you aren’t a really person. Sorry, had to slip that in.
And by the time Jesus comes along, in Jesus mind at least, the religious people especially had totally warped who God was. He was a God of rules, and regulations, and condemnations, and self-righteousness. And Jesus comes along and makes these statement that he is God, and then he add a modifier. A descriptor if you will. The first one is easy, so let’s start there this morning, then we’ll go home.
Jesus says I am the bread of Life. Now 2 things are happening here.
First, back in the desert, remember how the people got food. If you somehow missed that story, read exodus 16. Since the Jews were traveling through the desert, God fed them with food from heaven. Every morning, 6 mornings a week, they woke up, walked outside and picked up this stuff they made bread out of. This story is deeply imbedded in the Jewish culture.
Then, the chapter before Jesus says this, he feds 5 thousand people. He takes off, and they follow him. Not because they love him for who he is. They just want food. If you are a person of any means whatsoever in this country, you understand this. People don’t care about you, they just want from you. They want the gifts, not the giver. But they don’t realize the source is really the giver. Without the giver, the gift has not meaning, not context.
And Jesus looks at them and says, you don’t get it do you? Its me. Its me. And really, you don’t need bread, you need me. Who do you think gives nutrients to that bread? Who is the source of Life? Who, John tells us in chapter 1 of this same book, sustains all things by the power of his word. Who breathed the stars into existence, who created matter from nothing, who holds protons and neutrons and quarks and nano-strings together.
“But that’s way to personal Jesus.”
We don’t want to be that close really. What we want is a divine bank with limitless credit. We want a free ticket out of hell. But imagine if we really knew God. If he was everything we needed. All you guys who work in marketing would be out of a job. All I need is you Lord, you Lord. Not a car, not a job, not a phone, not a girl friend, not a lover, not a wife, not respect, not power, not glory. All I need is you. I am the Bread of Life. If you eat bread, you gotta eat it again. But the bread of life completely satisfies our every need.
But here’s the deal. Its easier to stay away than to make God that personal. To hear his voice. To completely and totally depend on him for food and provision, but beyond that, to be completely and totallys satisfied in him.
We are creatures born to want more. There is, as CS Lewis put it, a God size hole in all of us. And the problem with a God sized hole in our souls is that nothing, and no combination of money, sex and power, is big enough to plug that hole. All that is enough is God himself.
So this morning, lets take this Journey. OK Lord. I recognize that you are all I need. All I need. I don’t need bread, I need you, I don’t need food, I need you.
This isn’t as practical how to balance your budget. But its far more intimate, far deeper. Its walking with an awareness that if we truly walk in relationship with Jesus, we’ll have everything we need