Ash Wednesday, February 14 – By Hannah Wollenzein

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Week #1: “I AM the Way, Truth and Life” – John 14:6
Question: What does Jesus mean by this “I Am”? Explain the metaphor.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

The phrase “I am” is not new to any of us, I’m sure. We likely say it hundreds of times daily; perhaps so much that it is tempting to get lost in the ordinariness of the phrase. “I am hungry,” “I am excited,” “I am cold.” I am so used to this being a phrase of the ordinary that the significance of Jesus’s seven “I am” phrases in the gospel of John was lost at first glance. Curious about the importance of these words, like the good scientist I am, I decided to examine the use of “I am” in the Bible.

The first significant use of “I am” comes in Exodus. God says to Moses at the burning bush “I am who I am,” which may seem to us as a rather strange phrase. However, to Hebrew speakers, “I am” translates to ehyeh, which biblical scholars believe is the first-person derivation of YHWH, the biblical name of the God of Israel. God saying to Moses “I am who I am” is not some strange “God saying,” it is quite literally God revealing Godself to Moses. Keeping this in mind, Jesus saying “I am” or “ehyeh” is Jesus revealing himself to be God. In biblical times, this would have been a hugely powerful statement, even blasphemous. In fact, in John, a crowd attempts to stone Jesus for using this type of “I am” phrase. Jesus’ “I am” declarations are anything but ordinary. He is revealing himself to be God, the word made flesh. 
Aside from the vast implications of the Hebrew translations of “I am,” I think the English description of God as “I am” is also powerful. God exists in present tense because God transcends time. God is not only the past and a promise for the future, God is always the here, now, and extraordinary God. 

In John 14, Jesus declares to the disciples at the last supper, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The way indicates that knowing Jesus is the path to knowing God. Jesus stating he is one with the truth tells us that he and his teachings are the one true teaching of God. There are no “alternative truths.” It is Jesus alone that is God made flesh. When Jesus says he is the life, he is further solidifying his identity as God in human form, as God is the gift of life for us. Jesus being given to us by God and dying for our sins granted eternal life in God to us. Without the sacrifice of Jesus, we would have no life. 

Dear Lord, thank you for never being ordinary. Help us to see the power in your words and works daily in our lives, as you are with us at all times, not just in our past and future. Let us remember that knowing you is the way and the truth and the life. Amen.