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When Jesus says, "I AM"

Encounters with Jesus in the Gospel of John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  28:07
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Earlier in the summer I began a series looking at who Jesus is by specifically looking at individuals who have encountered Jesus in the Gospel of John. I chose the gospel of John for several reasons, one of which is the audience to whom John is speaking. The audience for John’s Gospel was not only those who had come from a Jewish heritage, but also to those who were from a Greek or Gentile heritage. Therefore it really includes most of us as well, as most of us do not come from a home familiar with Hebrew and Jewish tradition.
A few weeks ago I touched on a phrase that is important in the gospel of John. It is the phrase “I am.” and we briefly looked at the implications of that phrase both for John and for the Jews who were hearing it. You may remember the Greek phrase was, “Ego eimi”. We talked about how it would have for the Jewish readers brought to mind God’s word to Moses in Exodus 3:14.
Exodus 3:14 ESV
God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ”
One of my professors used to say that when God says, “I AM” to Moses the words convey, “I am all you need me to be when you need me to be it.”
According to the Lexham Bible Dictionary
“The phrase was meant to convey the eternality, self-existence, and changelessness that belong to God alone.”
Miller, J. E. (2016). I Am Sayings. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
It is from the phrase, “I am who I am” that we get the name of God - Yahweh.
Jesus was not shy about making the connection. In John 8:58 he asserts the connection:
John 8:58 ESV
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
So you can understand why the Jews would react the way they did when Jesus would make such statements. It would be absolutely blasphemous, that is, unless it were true.
Let’s look at each of the seven statements and what they would have meant, and what they mean for us today:

1. “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35)

This statement is tied to one of Jesus miracles in the Gospel of John. This statement comes right after he has fed the 5000 with the 5 barley loaves and the two fish. The crowds come looking for him, and they ask him to do another sign for them that they may believe.
Look at vs. 33
John 6:33 ESV
For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
They ask Jesus for this bread and Jesus makes his first claim of “I Am”.
John 6:35 ESV
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
and he reiterates that statement in vs. 48.
John 6:48 ESV
I am the bread of life.
I am the one that provides sustenance. I believe this ties back to Jesus conversation with his disciples when they return and find him speaking to the woman at the well in chapter 4. He tells his disciples when he refuses to eat the food they bring back to him,
John 4:31–32 ESV
Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
And what was his food?
John 4:34 ESV
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.
That too is our food and sustenance to do God’s will and to accomplish his work.
The second “I Am” Statement:

2. “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12)

This statement in our current translations comes right after the passage we studied a couple of weeks ago and the woman caught in adultery. And it is repeated in chapter 9 vs. 5, when he comes a cross a man that had been blind since birth. His disciples ask him, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” He heals the man and his eyes are opened.
John 8:12 ESV
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 9:5 ESV
As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

3. “I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7)

This one doesn’t have near as much meaning to us in our urban setting. But to the people of the time living in a time where agriculture was their main livelihood, they no doubt understood all the implications here.
John 10:7 ESV
So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.
This speaks to Jesus being literally the gatekeeper. The disciples didn’t understand it, so he reiterated it in vs. 9
John 10:9 ESV
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
Our going in and out is through Jesus - all that we do is through Jesus. (more on this later.)

4. “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11)

This is similar to what is said in verse 7, but he goes into deeper statement about it. Think about a sheep fold - there is a wall build up to keep out predators, and the sheep are herded into the fold. In the wall there is a gap 3-4 feet wide. The shepherd would literally lay down at night in this opening to keep the sheep in and to keep the predators out. He would lay down in the doorway, and literally lay down his life for the sheep.
John 10:11 ESV
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
It’s not difficult to also see what jesus would do for us in the future. He would lay down his life for his sheep. This is also where Jesus tells us that he knows his own and they know him. Jesus knows us by name!

5. “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25)

This again is one of the statements that is surrounding one of Jesus miracles. This one is associated with the raising of Lazarus. Lazarus had been in the tomb for 4 days when Jesus arrives. Martha comes out to greet Jesus and laments, “Lord if you’d been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus reminds her that her brother will rise again, and she says, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”
Side note - see Jews have believed in the resurrection long before Jesus death and resurrection.
Jesus responds:
John 11:25 ESV
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,
This is perhaps one of the greatest promises in all of Scripture. It is the promise of eternal life for those who believe in Jesus. It is John 3:16 reiterated in different form.

6. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6)

In many ways this is a summary statement of the I AM statements and of who Jesus is altogether. Jesus is the way - not a way - he is the way. The door. The path. He is the One and only way to eternal life. He is the truth - not a false teacher, his is holy, righteous, and the truth - the word of God itself - that we are all seeking. And, he is life - we already spoke of the resurrection.
John 14:6 ESV
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
The thing that is most difficult for people here is the exclusive claim that Jesus is making in that he is asserting there is no other way to the Father except through Him. That’s an exclusive claim, and christianity often gets railed against by agnostics and atheists who will tout that no other religion makes such exclusive claims. That’s a lie for the deceiver himself. All religions claim some sort of exclusivity.
G.K. Chesterton in his brilliant book Orthodoxy, says,
“The Christian ideal has not beenn tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” ~ G. K. Chesterton

7. “I am the true vine” (John 15:1)

This is a great statement to those that are not Jewish. Because if we read the entire passage it reminds us of the source of our life and our ability to do anything. It is through Christ.
John 15:1 ESV
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.
Along with that is the reminder of our purpose to bear fruit. Jesus is our life source, the one who grounds us, who raises us up.
We’re just entering the season of autumn - the leaves are falling, there seems to be much “dying” going on, if you’re watching your garden right now. But there is life there.
There are other statements made by Jesus about providing the living water, and all sorts of references to life throughout the Gospels and the New Testament. Jesus is all we need him to be when we need him to be it.
In the prologue we read these words:
John 1:1–5 ESV
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
It is Jesus who is our light, sustenance, entry, leader, life, truth, and source. Jesus is what we need.
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