They are words that use God’s name to precede ours. Who are you? I am Tom or I am Jane or I am whatever name your parents gave you.
These are words that identify God and help us to understand our identity and they are more than we can comprehend in a single serving. Jesus gave us 7 I Am metaphors to help us understand him and his Father in heaven and what it is to have life in him.
Let’s briefly consider each of these I Am statements.
“I am the bread of life.” (John 6:35-51) Jesus used this one several times in a single pericope. Bread sustains physical life. Christ offers and sustains spiritual life. Think to the fourth chapter of John’s gospel. Jesus said he had food that his disciples didn’t know about.
His food was to do the will of his Father. His food was to finish the work he was sent to do. Jesus still ate meals but his real sustenance was in doing his Father’s will.
Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
Jesus and his commands to us sustain us. We are to receive him and his commands with the same enthusiasm we have for the fellowship meal. Will we be nourished?
“I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12) To a world lost in darkness, Christ offers Himself as a guide. John has a recurring theme of light and darkness. While Jesus was in the world, he was the light of the world. We as his disciples are charged to be the light of the world. You can be the salt of the earth while you are at it.
In chapter 11 of John’s gospel, when the disciples are concerned about going back to Judea and Jerusalem because the Jews there wanted to kill Jesus, he told them that if they walked in daylight they would not stumble. If they walked in his light, they would be protected.
“I am the door of the sheep.” (John 10:7-9) Jesus protects His followers as shepherds protect their flocks from predators. If every sheep and shepherd go through the gate, everyone is protected. Visual a small or narrow gate that offers only one way in or out. Only the thief would climb the fence to steal or kill or destroy. Jesus is the gate and the gate is the way, which will come up in chapter 14.
Will we by receiving him also receive his protection?
“I am the good shepherd.” (John 10:11-14) Jesus loves and protects all who belong to him. Everyone who had been entrusted with the shepherding of Israel before fell short. Jesus is the model of shepherding. His sheep know his voice.
As we are talking shepherds, I’m going to make a little rant here. I see a lot of scripture abused on the internet. Scripture is twisted or rewritten to fit the desired narrative. That’s the age that we live in. Sometimes, I am compelled to comment. Here is one of those cases. It’s from Luke 15.
Have you seen the one about how Jesus leaves the 99 to find the 1? Did you have any problems with that?
Jesus tells the parable. He is not in the parable. What difference does it make?
Besides manipulating the scripture to fit the desired narrative of the one who posted it; it ignores the literary tool selected by Jesus. The parable helps us understand the things of God by setting it alongside the things people understood in the world.
The shepherd in the parable is your basic human shepherd. Even he would leave the 99 in the open country to search for the lost sheep. If the human shepherd would do this, how much more will your Heavenly Father search for those who are lost?
How great the celebration in heaven when the lost one is found and home again.
Trust that Jesus knew what he was doing when he told this parable. He is the Good Shepherd after all.
“I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25) Martha thought that resurrection was a date on an eternal calendar. She was probably right, but resurrection was standing in front of her. Resurrection, life, and life eternal are in Christ.
These bodies will wear out but we will live. We will live.
Ask ourselves the same thing that Jesus inquired of Martha. Do you believe this?
“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) The disciples wanted to see the Father. C’mon, they had followed Jesus for 3 years. If anyone should be entitled to a glimpse of the Heavenly Father, it was them.
Jesus explained that if they had seen him, they had seen the Father. Jesus was in the Father and the Father in him. You want to know the Father, then know me. That’s the essence here.
Everything is through Jesus. Everything that was made was made through him. Everything that we need comes through him. Everything that we hope for is in his name. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.
“I am the true vine.” (John 15:1-5) You know those disconnect notices that we gave out a few years ago and I still use about once a week. They pose the question to their readers, “Are you connected to the body of Christ?”
Jesus asks us if we remain connected to him. Are we a teachable spirit? Have we taken his yoke and do we learn from him?
Do we really want to know the Father? Then we must be prepared for him to do some pruning. He will prune away everything that does not produce good fruit.
We have made it through John’s gospel. If you check out my postings online, you got a high speed flyover of the entire gospel this week. These 7 I Am metaphors are also a good way to retain much of what you have learned.
I am the bread of life. Will we be nourished?
I am the light of the world. Will we walk in the light?
I am the door of the sheep. We will receive his protection?
I am the good shepherd. Will we know his voice?
I am the resurrection and the life. Do you believe this?
I am the way, the truth, and the life. Will we trust in the Lord with all of our heart?
I am the true vine. Will we stay connected and do we trust our Father to prune us so that we may produce good fruit?
Those are the 7 I Am metaphors. I find them a fitting way to conclude what has been a 5-month journey.
John told us that his gospel did not contain everything that Jesus did, that it was enough for us to believe and by believing have eternal life in Christ.
So let us believe and have life.
Let us live as his disciples and produce good fruit.
In a world of deception, let us know his voice.