Do You Know Who I Am?

“Do you know who I am?”

The words came angrily out of my mouth.  The young cop in front of me looked in my face and recognition lit up his eyes.  His mouth though–his mouth remained closed as he shook his head no.

I turned to his superior, another of the officers standing in front of my place of business, all of them having startled me from my desk moments before.  I had heard the sound of someone climbing over the chain link fence and, rushing out into the darkness, had the terrifying ordeal of being faced with a blinding light in my face and the certainty that behind that flashlight, the young officer’s pistol was aimed straight at me.

As I stood in the parking lot moments later, shaking with fright and anger, I recognized the young officer.  He had been at my front door only weeks before.  His mute denial of knowing me only made me more angry.

Facing his superior officer, I pointed my finger at the young man furiously.

“He knows me!  He was here just a couple of weeks ago!  There’s no excuse for this!”

He knew who I was.

“Do you know who I am?”

The man in front of me looked vaguely familiar, but it would take me a minute.  A grin broke across his face as he punched his female companion playfully.

“I told you he wouldn’t remember me,” he said jovially.  “It’s been too long.”

My eyes followed his hand as he poked her on the shoulder again.  I noticed the forefinger was misshapen, as if it had been cut off and reattached at some time in the distant past.

“Sure, I know you, Luke!  How could I forget selling you that banjo?”

It had been twenty-five years ago, but the memory of that mangled finger had stayed with me.  It had caused him considerable pain as he tried to relearn a skill he thought had been lost forever.  All it took was a look at the injured digit to bring back the name.

He looked at me in shock.  His friend did as well.  They couldn’t believe I remembered him.

I knew who he was.

We all want to be important enough to be remembered.  I wanted the policeman to remember who I was so he wouldn’t pull his gun on me in my own backyard.

My customer wanted me to remember that man from the past who had needed a boost in self-confidence and the fact that he had persevered through the pain. 

It’s Christmas week–the week we set aside to consider a God who became a baby and was born. 

For us. 

In a barn.

I can’t help but think that the symbolism–of that birthplace and the only people who came to visit the birthplace–was entirely by design.  The Lamb of God, who would be a sacrifice…no…The Sacrifice, was born in a sheep pen, to be surrounded hours later by, of all people, shepherds. 


Not priests.  Not military men.  Not kings.


“Do you know who I am?”

The King of all Creation left His throne to be forgotten by men.  He would be a common man.  Like us.

The answer to the question is a resounding no.  In the words of the famous song, “We didn’t know who you was.”

We didn’t know.

Two thousand years have passed since that humble birth.  The baby became a boy and then a man.  A man who would die. 

I think I know who He is now.

And yet.  I stand in the dark and I ask the question.  Shameful, dirty, and still filled with evil thoughts, I ask the question.

“Do you know who I am?”

The arrogance with which I addressed the policeman is gone.  The hopefulness of recognition from long ago is not a factor; it could only make matters worse.  I simply don’t understand how anyone who knows me intimately could love me this completely.

But there it is.  He knows me

Yet He came.  And died.

He knows who I am.

Still today, we recall the Baby, laid in a feeder trough, in a stall, in a barn, in a little back-water town so long ago.  And the question comes down through all the ages.

“Do you know who I AM?”

Now, do we know?

“Sweet little Jesus Boy
They made You be born in a manguh.
Sweet little Holy Chile
We didn’t know who You wus.

Didn’t know you came to same us Lawd
To take our sins away.
Our eyes wus bline;
We couldn’t see.
We didn’t know who You wus.”
(Sweet Little Jesus Boy, 1932 ~ Robert MacGimsey ~ American composer ~ 1878-1979)

“He was in the world and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.  He came to His own and those who were His own did not receive Him.  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become Children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”
(John 1: 10-12 ~ NASB)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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