Dear Church Family,

In our sermon this last Sunday morning from John 10:1-21, we came to two more of the ‘I am’ sayings in John’s Gospel. If you’ve been with us from the beginning of this sermon series, you might remember that there are seven such ‘I am’ sayings which are fond in this book. And, you will hopefully remember, as well, that these ‘I am’ sayings are a direct reference to the special covenant name of God which was given to Moses in His encounter with God in the burning bush. Commenting on the first ‘I am’ saying in John 6:35, Mark Johnston writes:

The full force of this, and of all the other ‘I am’ sayings, lies in the similarity between this seemingly innocuous verb and the special divine name by which God revealed himself to Moses at the burning bush – ‘I AM WHO I AM’ (Exodus 3:14). It was not long before the Jews began to appreciate the allusion that Jesus was making in these sayings – a thinly veiled claim to deity – and they would soon use it to further their own claims for his death. (Mark Johnston, Let’s Study Mark, 94)

 

The Seven ‘I am’ Sayings

We are examining these seven ‘I am’ sayings as we come to them in our Sunday morning sermon series in the Gospel according to John, but here is the complete list:

[1] I am the bread of life

(John 6:35)  35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

(John 6:41)  41 Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.”

(John 6:48-51)  48 “I am the bread of life49 “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.  50 “This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.  51I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”

[2] I am the light of the world

(John 8:12)  12 Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

[3] I am the door of the sheep

(John 10:7-10)  7 So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep8 “All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.  9I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.  10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

[4] I am the good shepherd

(John 10:11)  11I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

(John 10:14-15)  14I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me,  15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

[5] I am the resurrection and the life

(John 11:25-26)  25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,  26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

[6] I am the way, and the truth, and the life

(John 14:6)  6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

[7] I am the true vine

(John 15:1) “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.

(John 15:5)  5I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

Responses to the ‘I am’

The seven ‘I am’ statements above are the ones that are typically mentioned in most commentaries; however, there are other places in John’s Gospel where Jesus employs this phrase ‘I am’ in an almost abrupt way to get people’s attention. Two of these are of particular interest as Jesus’ pronouncement in each of these instances elicits a dramatic response from His hearers.

(1) After condemning the Jews who did not believe in Him, declaring that their father is the devil (John 8:44), Jesus makes this bold claim: “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58). Did the people fall down and worship Him? No, they took His statement to mean that He was claiming equality with God, so they picked up stones to throw at Him (John 8:59).

(2) When Judas betrayed Jesus, he came with a gang of armed men to arrest Jesus in the garden; when asked who they were looking for they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus’ response is simply, “I am” (John 18:5). Most English translations have “I am He,” but it is the exact same phrase that we find in John 8:58 above. More to the point at hand, however, the Bible tells us that these two words had a dramatic effect on those who had come to arrest Him: “So when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground” (John 18:6).

Conclusion

Each of the seven ‘I am’ sayings gives a different aspect of the Jesus’ person and work. Each saying helps to give a fuller picture of who Jesus Christ is as the Son of God and Savior of sinners. This fuller picture helps us to grow in our appreciation and love for Him. The unifying phrase in all of these sayings – ‘I am’ – also points to Jesus’ self-identification as being eternally divine. He is not simply saying, “I am all of these things presently,” but that He has always been, and will always be these things. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

What a wonderful Savior is Jesus! He is the great ‘I am’!

The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch