The Great I AM
Whoever comes to me will never be hungry – John 6:35
When God called Moses to set the people free, Moses asked him, Who will I say has sent me to free them?” God told him to say, “I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus. 3:14). It was a distinct title that no one else claimed: I AM identified God just as our names identify us.
Today in our gospel text Jesus amazes his dissenters by identifying himself by the same name. “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35). It is the first of many times in John’s gospel in which Jesus identifies himself with God’s own self-description. It seems audacious! The crowd disputes among themselves. “How can he claim to be bread which brings life forever and has come down from heaven? How dare he?”
Jesus again affirms that they (and we) do not choose God; God chooses them. God comes to us through Jesus and draws us into relationship. This claim of Jesus rattles our reasoning, because we humans always want to believe hat we are the ones who decide our own future. We persist in claiming that if we behave in particular ways, God will bless us. But here, Jesus reminds us, it is God who gives life.
As we observe this dialogue from the sidelines of modernity, we are confronted with how Jesus calls us to respond to God’s gift of relationship, which comes in baptism. When we have heard and learned of the miraculous invitation of God to eternal life, we have the opportunity to say “yes.”
We can let go of our need for reason and proof and welcome Jesus, or we can be like the crowd, grumbling and arguing about whether a man can give his flesh for other to eat. We can go our own way, questioning the great I AM, or we can respond to our baptism with joy and commitment: “God, here I am.”