The “I AM’s” of Jesus Christ
The gospels reveal the history of Jesus’ life here on earth; what he did, what he was like, and also what he desires to be to us. Jesus wants to be more than an historical figure. He desires to be something (someone) personally meaningful to us. Who is Jesus to you? Nine times in the Gospel of John Jesus declares himself as “I AM,” and goes on to explain who he is.
“I am the bread of life” (John 6:35, 48, 51). He said this in the context of speaking about the manna God gave Israel in the wilderness. Manna sustained their physical life while in the wilderness. Jesus sustains us spiritually in all wilderness experiences in life. We cannot survive spiritually without Jesus. We could as easily live without bread than without Jesus. Jesus preserves and perpetuates life. As Israel ate manna daily for their sustenance, so we must partake of Jesus daily.
The Psalmist said, “Taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalms 34:8). Peter said, “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Peter 2:2-3). As seen in the context, this applies to a steady diet of God’s Word. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Jeremiah said, “Your words were found and I ate them” (Jeremiah 15:16). Job cried, “Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12). Let’s taste of the “bread of life” daily.
“I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). Jesus went on to say, “He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” Jesus also said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 NASB). Paul said, “That you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).
Light physically represents glory, philosophically truth and morally holiness. It’s important to realize we have no light without Jesus. As the moon has no light of it’s own but reflects the light of the sun, we too merely reflect Jesus’ light. The more time we spend in Jesus’ presence the brighter our light will become. We will radiate more of his glory like Moses after spending forty days in God’s presence, the more his truth will be revealed to and through us and the brightness of his holiness will be manifest in our lives. The more time we spend in his presence the more of his glory, truth and holiness will be revealed to this world.
“Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). Jesus was claiming to be the very “I AM” God who spoke to Moses through the burning bush, the self existent one. “And God said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM. And He said, Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14). Proof of this was that they “took up stones to throw at him” (John 5:59). The penalty for blasphemy was death by stoning. The Jews knew he was claiming to be very God which is why they wanted to stone him. For other proof texts of Jesus’ divinity read: John 1:1; 5:18, 10:30-33; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:8 and Revelation 1:8. Also see “The Deity of Jesus Christ.”
“I am the door of the sheep”( John 10:7, 9). Jesus is the door into the sheepfold of God’s kingdom and family. No one can get into the kingdom of God without going through Jesus. All who attempt to enter by any other means are thieves and robbers (John 10:8). You cannot get into God’s kingdom apart from him. Doors also provide safety and security. A door keeps out unwanted forces from without. Jesus is our door of safety and security.
“I am the good shepherd” ( John 10:11,14). Peter referred to Jesus as the “Chief Shepherd” (1 Peter 5:4). All pastors of his Church are under-shepherds of his flock. If you desire to be a good shepherd, mimic Jesus, the “good shepherd.”
A few characteristics of good shepherds are:
- They give their lives for their sheep. Jesus gave His life for us. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). As shepherds we are to give our lives in service to our flock.
- They feed their flock. Pastors, we are to feed our people the word. Paul admonishes pastors to “Preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2). And again, “Feed the church of God” (Acts 20:28 KJV). Peter said, “The elders which are among you I exhort… feed the flock of God which is among you” (1 Peter 5:1-2). Your people don’t need cute stories and anecdotes – what they need is the Word of God.
- They protect people from wolves. Paul warned the Ephesian elders, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears” (Acts 20:28-31).
The enemy will send wolves into your midst to attempt to devour the flock. We are to protect our people from these wolves. That said, wolves come in many different forms. They may appear as well meaning people who come into our church, as well as things your people may read on and offline. This is why we must be well informed and inform our people accordingly. According to the passage above, spiritual wolves do primarily two things:
- They propagate false doctrine. Acts 20:30 says they, “speak perverse things.” This is why Paul admonished us to, “Preach the word…for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2-3). There is so much erroneous teaching in our world today, much of which sounds good at first. It tickles our ears (2 Timothy 4:3). We must protect our flock from false teaching. This won’t make us very popular, but we must protect our people from false doctrine as a good shepherd, under the “Chief Shepherd.”
- They bring divisiveness. They, “draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:30). Paul admonished the Romans, “Mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17). This too will not always be popular, but we are to protect our flock from wolves that seek to divide the body at all cost. Much of the time this comes in the form of casting doubt concerning leadership, either in what is being taught or the church’s vision. This is why James said, “The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defiles the whole body” (James 3:6). Those who seek to divide the body must be marked as such before the entire body is destroyed.
“I am the resurrection, and the life” ( John 11:25). Jesus is life for all who come to him. “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12 KJV). “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10 NKJV). Jesus came to gives us abundant life. This life is found in Jesus alone. If you seek a rich, fulfilled life, you must find it in Jesus.
We receive this in part now but completely in the life to come, the resurrection. All will die – “It is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27 NASB). Jesus is the resurrection. Those who sleep in Christ will one day find themselves being resurrected in His image (1 John 3:2). “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye…..we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality…..then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?….. Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15: 15:52-59).
“I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Jesus is the way to life, salvation and heaven. He not only spoke the truth of God, but he was the embodiment of truth and the one in whom fulfillment of life is found. What he said next is what really distinguishes his followers (Christianity). “No one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). There is no other way to the Father and the place Jesus prepared for us in heaven but Jesus alone. Peter said, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” Acts 4:12).
Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Jesus is the narrow gate through which we must enter, all other ways lead to destruction. As narrow minded as it is, Jesus is the way and the only way to the Father. Yes, you must be narrow minded to be a Christian. Jesus is the only means of salvation. This is true Christianity.
“I am the true vine” (John 15:1). He goes on to say, “I 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” (John 15:5). Branches draw their life and ability to bear fruit from the vine.
Even so, Jesus is our source of everything. We are nothing and can do nothing apart from him. We are in complete dependence upon him. We have no life, can bear no fruit and will never accomplish anything without him. Take Jesus out of the equation and we are nothing. This is why constant communion with Jesus in prayer, worship, his Word and fellowship with other believers is imperative. We must stay vitally connected to Jesus in every way possible. He is the source of all that we are.
The all powerful I AM (John 18:4-6). The power in this name is phenomenal. This is revealed in the arrest scene of Jesus. When coming to arrest him in John 18 Jesus, “knowing all the things that were coming upon him, went forth and said to them, Whom do you seek? They answered him, Jesus the Nazarene. He said to them, I am He. And Judas also, who was betraying him, was standing with them. So when he said to them, I am He, they drew back and fell to the ground” (John 18:4-6).
The “he” was added by translators for clarification and was not there in the original. It should have been, “When he said to them, I AM, they drew back and fell to the ground.” They couldn’t even stand under the power of his name but “drew back and fell to the ground.” This also shows that Jesus willingly gave up his life for us. If they couldn’t stand under the power of his name, they couldn’t have arrested him against his will. This proves Jesus Christ gave his life for us on his own accord.