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Who am I? Answering like Jesus did

To explore students’ sense of identity, using the ‘I am’ sayings of Jesus (SEAL theme: Self-awareness).

by Brian Radcliffe

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To explore students’ sense of identity, using the ‘I am’ sayings of Jesus (SEAL theme: Self-awareness).

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a leader and three readers – you may need to show them how to pronounce the first three phrases.


  1. Leader I’d like to begin today’s assembly with a simple question: who are you? It’s the same question that you’re asked to tackle right at the start when learning modern foreign languages.

    Reader 1 Je m’appelle (name).

    Reader 2 Ich heisse (name).

    Reader 3 Me llamo (name).

  2. Leader Some people here may remember a Saturday night TV show hosted by Cilla Black called Blind Date. She always introduced contestants with her catchphrase, ‘What’s your name and where do you come from?’ in her strong Scouse accent. If we’d asked Jesus that question, I don’t think he would have replied, ‘My name’s Jesus, the son of Joseph. I was born in Bethlehem, but grew up in Nazareth.’ What he actually replied, noted in John’s Gospel, was something like this.

    Reader 1 I am the good shepherd.

    Reader 2 I am the bread of life.

    Reader 3 I am the resurrection.

    Reader 1 I am the light of the world.

    Reader 2 I am the way, and the truth, and the life.

    Reader 3 I am the gate.

  3. Leader Rather than a simple name, he used a series of symbols that highlighted aspects of who he was as a person and what he wanted to do. Each symbol painted a clearer picture of his identity than merely saying his name would do. We do something similar when we describe one another. We might say, ‘You’re a ray of sunshine’ when someone helps lift us out of a sad mood.

    Reader 1 We may describe someone as being ‘a listening ear’ because they’re sympathetic when we want to talk some issue through.

    Reader 2 We call a person who can’t hide their feelings ‘an open book’.

    Reader 3 When someone is really helpful we might say, ‘You’re a star’.

  4. Leader Jesus used symbols in order to talk about himself. He knew who he was, where he’d come from and what his mission in life was. Because he had a clear sense of his identity, he could paint pictures in this way so others could understand. It made it simpler to relate to him. You knew where you were with him and it was a question then of whether or not you wanted to join him.

    Do you have a clear sense of your identity? Do you know where you’re going? Do you know your role in life? Have you chosen the way you’d like other people to think of you and see you? If so, what might be your symbols?

    Let’s look at some examples. Maybe, for instance, you’re a shield if you have a role protecting others from whatever might be a threat. You might always be on the lookout for and calm down arguments, defuse tension.

    Someone else might see themselves as being rather like a guide dog. This might be you if you love to give advice, make sure others don’t get lost.

    You might be a mirror, able to reflect back to people their thoughts and emotions so they can reassess them.

    Others might see themselves as a lighthouse, a flag to follow, a safety net, a warm blanket, a flash of lightning. There are many, many possibilities.

Time for reflection

Jesus was very sure of himself. He had a confidence that meant he could be clear to others.

Are you sure of yourself? Do you know what your strengths are? Are you proud of them? Perhaps, instead, you are tempted to wish you were somebody else.

We’re actually most use to one another when we are honest about who we truly are. We’re not inferior or superior to anyone else, we’re simply us. We’re unique and special and there’s a role in the world that only we can play.

Back to our opening question – who are you? Spend a moment thinking of the symbol you’d choose to represent yourself.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for the unique people we are.
Help us to identify and be proud of what makes us distinctive.
May we give a clear picture to everyone we meet, so their world might be a better place to live.


‘I am the one and only’ by Chesney Hawkes

Publication date: August 2013   (Vol.15 No.8)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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