LENT 2020 - Who Are You, Lord?

Wednesday, February 26 2020



He was on his way to Damascus in Syria, breathing out murderous threats.


He was well known for ravaging and destroying the church, because of his zeal for the God of his fathers, Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. Going from house to house, he would drag off both men and women and put them in prison. When Stephen (one of the first seven deacons of the church, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit) was stoned to death, this young man approved of his execution and was left with the coats of the witnesses at his feet.


That day, on his way to Damascus, he had letters with him, letters that he had asked from the religious leaders of the time. He was planning on going to the synagogues, finding the Lord's disciples – men or women who belonged to "the Way" - and taking them as prisoners to Jerusalem.


He could have been a member of ISIS.


But he lived in the first century. His name was Saul.


That day on that road, he wasn't counting on a supernatural presence that would prostrate him and confront him. He wasn't expecting a light and a voice from heaven that would change and transform his life forever.


"As he neared Damascus on his journey,

suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.

He fell to the ground

and heard a voice say to him,

“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied."

(Acts 9: 3-5)


One moment Saul was breathing threats and prison and murder for the followers of Jesus. And the next moment this same Jesus surrounded him with light, threw him to the ground, and confronted him with both a confusing and a frightening question: "Why do you persecute Me?"


Knocked down and dejected, Saul asked: "Who are You, Lord?"


And he heard the voice that he never thought he would hear, the voice he never wanted to hear, say to him: "I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting."


One moment he was sure that he knew God intimately. After all, he was a Hebrew of Hebrews, of the people of Israel, from the tribe of Benjamin, circumcised on the eighth day, rabbi Gamaliel's student and thoroughly trained in the law of his ancestors, and as for righteousness based on the law a faultless Pharisee. But the next moment, Saul found himself on the ground, unable to say or do anything but ask "Who are You, Lord?"


In that moment of prostration and humiliation, he realized that he didn't know the Lord at all.


Because he didn't know that the Lord was Jesus. And he hadn't understood that persecuting the followers of Jesus was persecuting Jesus himself.


Only when the light and the voice of the Jesus he had been tyrannizing with such zeal burst into his day-to-day life and knocked him to the ground, only when he was in that state of surrender, could he finally lift his eyes up to heaven and begin to truly know the Lord.


How many times the same thing happens to us. How many times the same thing needs to happen to us.


Otherwise, we walk on our own roads to Damascus in all our religious security and pride, convinced that we know God and are walking correctly before Him.


Until He bursts into our lives, close to our Damascus – and He brings us to our knees, He humbles us, and He confronts us with the truth of who He is.


There, and only there, we can begin our own new walk to know the true Lord. There, the rest of our journey to Damascus is changed: we no longer walk in the arrogance of our supposed knowledge of God – rather, we walk humbly, recognizing that we still have so very much to learn and to know about Him.


Saul asked: "Who are you, Lord?"


I too have been asking these days: "Who are you, Lord?" Because the God I have thought to know is constantly bursting into my life, surprising me, knocking me down, forcing me to lift up my eyes and my ears to heaven to see and to hear who He truly is.


And I have been remembering that, while He lived on this earth, He said of Himself: 


"I am the bread of life."


"I am the light of the world."


"I am the door of the sheep."


"I am the good shepherd."


"I am the resurrection and the life."


"I am the way, the truth and the life."


"I am the true vine."


"I am the Alfa and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”


All the above are known as Jesus’ metaphorical “I am” statements – where He likens Himself to someone or something else.


Added to those, are Jesus’ absolute “I AM” statements – where He doesn't equate Himself with anyone or anything else, but simply states: “I AM.”


Today, as we begin the season of LENT for the year 2020, let's accept Jesus' invitation to know Him better through His multifaceted “I am” and “I AM” statements.


What do they mean? What did they mean for the listeners 2000+ years ago? What do they mean today? What do they mean specifically for me?


Join me in the next weeks here in Reflections For Living, and let's learn together. I certainly don't claim to have any conclusive or definitive answers to these questions, because many scholars have written volumes about Jesus' "I am..." statements – in fact, they aren't even in agreement on how many of those statements there really are. All I want and ask is for Jesus to illuminate me with His light and to speak to me with His voice – and what He reveals to me, I will share with you here, so that together we can know Him better.    

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