The Seven I AM Sayings of Jesus

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THE SEVEN I AM SAYINGS OF JESUS

Have you ever thought about the seven I AM sayings of Jesus? The gospel according to John, there are seven “ I am” sayings of Jesus. And in this paper, I will try to reflect about why did Jesus refer to himself in the way he did? What seems to be in Jesus self-awareness when he spoke such sayings? What are the benefits of understanding the I AM sayings of Jesus for our Christian lives?

1. The bread of life. “ I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35). This is the first “I am” sayings of Jesus and this saying affirms that “Jesus is the Bread which gives and sustains “life,” the life of the kingdom of God”[1]. Here Jesus connects about the importance of bread for sustaining our physical life and to satisfy our physical hunger with the spiritual needs. He refers himself here as the only one who can satisfy spiritual hunger and sustains spiritual life. As bread must be eaten to sustain life in a daily basis, Jesus wants the people to realize that only by having personal relationship with him they can find real satisfaction in life from their spiritual hunger. He uses the importance of bread for casting the importance of spiritual bread (Jesus).In speaking these words; it is obvious that Jesus also tries to prove that he is the real heavenly bread, the true life-sustaining power coming from Heaven. Anything else is an inadequate substitute because Jesus is the only true son of God.

2. The light of the world. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12). Here, Jesus uses a physical action to demonstrate a physical truth. He gives sight to a blind man to show that he is the one who brings light to the world (John 9: 1-7). Besides, Jesus is also mentioning that he is the spiritual “light of the world” and apart from him, the world is full with darkness of sin, ignorance and aimlessness. He is claiming here that there is no deliverance from the blackness of sin; there is no guidance along the way of life, no knowledge as to the real meaning of life and the issues of eternity[2] because he is the only light of the world. To have the light of life, anyone should follow Jesus Christ, repentance from sins and believing on Him as Lord and Savior. Jesus refers Himself here as the light giver to those who are under darkness of sin because he is the light of the world sent by his Father (John 8:18). In other words, he is aware of his deity and claimed by saying this “I am the light of the word” (John 8:12)…“ I know where I came from and where I am going.”(John 8:14b). Therefore, those who believe or follow Jesus only can have clear guidance, direction in life and bright hope in the midst of darkness world.

3. The gate. “ I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9). In order to clarifies what Jesus means “ I am the gate”, it may be helpful to remind ourselves that a sheep pen normally has one doorway, and that the shepherds of the Near East often slept in the doorway, acting as the door itself. That is plain and easy to see for the sheep in order to enter the pen through the doorway. Thus, in the same manner, metamorphically speaking through the shepherd, Jesus is saying He Himself, and no other, is the means by which the sheep may enter into the promised fullness of life (vv.9-10)[3]. Morris also says that "Jesus says He is "the door", not "a door." There is something exclusive about "the" door. He is saying that the way into life goes through him and him alone. He is the door.”[4] Moreover, we can also see further stress on Jesus saying, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life; and have it to the full." (John 10:10). "This is a proverbial way of insisting that there is only one means of receiving eternal life, only one source of knowledge of God, only one fount of spiritual nourishment, only one basis for spiritual security-Jesus alone"[5]. Jesus also says that “whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture” (John 10:9b). Here, though Jesus does not explain exactly what he means to “be saved", it can indicates having "eternal life" or “salvation” linked with John 3:16-17. Thus, we can imply that “salvation can only be received through Christ. He is not only the Savior and the One who gives freedom, but He is also the Sustainer and Satisfier. His sheep find pastures in the Word of God” [6] and that is what Jesus claimed here as the gate. Morris says from the claim that Jesus made as “the gate”, “we encounter the thought of an exclusive salvation, exclusive in the sense that it can be entered only through the door, Jesus Christ. If there is one door for all the race, then once more we are reminded of something very important about Jesus. Like the other I am sayings, this one leads us to think of deity."[7]

4. The good shepherd. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11). Jesus refers himself here as “the good shepherd” who “lays down his life for the sheep” contrary to the “hired” shepherd who “cares nothing for the sheep”(v.12). In fact, the good shepherd gives his life for his sheep. But to a hireling, his only interest is self-preservation. In His using of the term "shepherd", He is speaking of His position. He is the shepherd of the sheep, He is the one who protects, leads, guides and nourishes the sheep. In turn, the sheep are utterly defensive and totally dependant upon the Shepherd. Therefore, the Shepherd (Jesus) now reveals that He is also the sacrificial "lamb of God" (1:29, 35), who willingly lays down His life for the sheep[8] (vv.15, 17, 18). “Ordinarily, the sheep were called upon to lay down their lives for the shepherd. But the Lord Jesus died for the flock.”[9] Thus, "The death of Jesus is no tragic accident, but the divinely appointed way whereby salvation would be brought to those who trust in Him."[10] And in saying this “ I am the good shepherd”, Jesus was making a claim to be quality with God the Father. It was not just for the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" that He was to lay down His life, but also for the "sheep of another pen" (10:16), the Gentiles. Thereby, making one flock, resided over by one Shepherd (v.16).How can the death of one man avail the redemption of so many, unless it was rendered more than sufficient by the divinity of this one man.! Thus, we contend that this I am saying screams out the divinity of Jesus the Christ[11].

5. The resurrection and the life. “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25). Jesus particularly says this claim to Martha regarding the death of her brother, Lazarus. For Martha replied Jesus’ saying “your brother will rise again”(v.23) as referring to “the resurrection at the last day”(v.24), Jesus says this claim for proving that “He is the resurrection and the life,” who has power over life and death as well as power to forgive sins. “With this claim, Jesus is not simply stating that He imparts resurrection and life, but that He Himself is resurrection and life.”[12] Morris inserts in this way, "That he is the resurrection means death, which to us appears so final, is no obstacle, and that he is the life means that the quality of life that he imparts to us here and now never ceases."[13] He continuously comments John’s recording of this incident that, “John is writing about one who is supremely great and who has breathtaking superiority over death. It is a comment to the human race that in the end we all face death and there is nothing we can do about that. We may stave off death for a time, but when it takes place it is final. He writes about a Lord for whom it is not final. He is such a great person that even death gives place to him."[14] Therefore, the claim of Jesus here “has no place on the lips of an ordinary man, but can only have place on the lips of Him who is divine.”[15]

6. The way, the truth and the life. “ I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). In this saying, Jesus is claiming three distinct things about Himself such as “the way”, “the truth” and “the life” which are “syntactically co-ordinate”[16]. However, the stress in this verse falls on “the way” since that is the issue He answered to Thomas (v. 5). From His claim, “ No one comes to the Father except through me”, “we can see here an exclusivity which can not be denied, nor overlooked because Jesus refers to going to His Father’s house (v.2). He is not speaking of a moral or ethical way, but the way of salvation. The way of salvation leading to the Father. He is confidently stating that He is not one of many ways to God, but "the" way”[17] “Today many say that it does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere. They say that all religions have some good in them and that they all lead to heaven at last.”[18] But Jesus claims that He is the only Way of salvation leading to the Father.

Second, Jesus claims to be “the truth”. “He is not just One who teaches the truth; He is the truth. He is the embodiment of the Truth.”[19] (1:1, 14) Similarly, Carson also significantly comments in this way, “Jesus is the truth, because he embodies the supreme revelation of God-he himself `narrates` God (1:18), says and does exclusively what the Father gives him to say and do (5:19ff; 8:29), indeed he is properly called God (1:1, 18; 20:28). He is God's gracious self-disclosure, his "Word", made flesh (1:14).”[20]

Third, Jesus claims that He is “the life”. “He is the source of life, both spiritual and eternal. Those who receive Him have eternal life because He is the Life.”[21] "It is He alone whose life is unique, self- existent like the life of the Father (5:16). He is the life and the source of life to others (3:16)."[22] “I am the Way” accordingly depicts Jesus in his mediatorial role between God and man; as the Truth he is the mediator of the revelation of God, and as the Life he is the mediator of the salvation which is life in God; “these are two equally essential aspects of the person and work of the Christ and may not be separated.”[23]

7. The true vine. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” (John 15:1). According to chapter 15, “Jesus twice makes the declaration, that He is "the vine". On the first occasion He links Himself with the Father, when He says "I AM the true vine, and my Father is the gardener", or, "vinedresser" (15:1). On the second occasion He links Himself with the believer, when He declares, "I AM the vine; you are the branches", or, "vine canes" (21), and "goes on to refer to the mutual indwelling of the Savior and the saved (15:5)."[24] Besides, “In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel was depicted as a vine planted by Jehovah. But the nation proved unfaithful and unfruitful, so the Lord Jesus now presented Himself as the true vine, the perfect fulfillment of all the other types and shadows. God the Father is the vinedresser”[25] However, I would like to clarify more one the second claim’s continuation, “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (15:5). Here, “it is an error to suppose that in the energy of the flesh that we are able to do anything that pleases God. For that we need the strength that he alone can supply. The condition of fruitful in Christian service is vital contact with Christ... Exactly what the "fruit" is not explained, but usually in the New Testament the word means qualities of Christian character (Matt. 3:8; 7:20; Rom. 6:22; Gal. 5:22 etc.) and we should see this as primary in mind here”[26]

As we have observed the seven “ I am” saying of Jesus, it is clear that the claims of Jesus reveals and demonstrates that He is the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the World who came down from heaven, died for our sins and resurrected in the third days according to the scriptures and made salvation for those who believe in Him. If these claims are not true, Jesus would be a liar and his teachings would be untrustworthy. But if these claims are true, we can’t simply ignore rather to take it seriously as Jesus said. “When Jesus used the "I AM" construction he was speaking in the style of deity or His divinity." And, "There is general agreement among Johannine scholars that this kind of language is a significant pointer to what John is telling us about the person of Jesus.”[27] Therefore, we can boldly believe on Jesus’ claiming the seven “ I am” as the truth because these sayings “ prove the deity of Jesus the Christ. And that when Jesus uttered these solemn words, He sought to convey the astounding fact of his divine nature - as did the Apostle John when he recorded these life-giving words.[28]

Bibliography

Beasley-Murray, George R. Word Biblical Commentary: John. Vol. 36., Waco, Texas: Word Books Publishers, 1987.

Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 1991.

MacDonald, William. Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995.

Morris, Leon. Jesus Is The Christ: Studies in the theology of John. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 1989.

El Naggar, Adel Mohammed. The “ I AM” proves Jesus to be Divine. Internet source- http://www.answering-islam.org/Who/i_am.html.

Endnotes

[1]George R. Beasley-Murray, Word Biblical Commentary: John. Vol. 36 (Waco, Texas: Word Books Publishers, 1987), 92.

[2] William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995). Quick Verse 2009 software Library.

[3] Adel Mohammed El Naggar, The “I AM” proves Jesus to be Divine. Internet source- http://www.answering-islam.org/Who/i_am.html.

[4] Leon Morris, Jesus Is The Christ: Studies in the theology of John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989), 114.

[5] D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991), 385.

[6] William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. Quick Verse 2009 software Library.

[7] L. Morris, Jesus Is The Christ, 114-15.

[8] Adel Mohammed El Naggar, The “ I AM” proves Jesus to be Divine.

[9] MacDonald, Believer's Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. Quick Verse 2009 software Library

[10] L. Morris, Jesus Is The Christ, 116.

[11] Adel Mohammed El Naggar, The “ I AM” proves Jesus to be Divine.

[12] Ibid.

[13] L. Morris, Jesus Is The Christ, 117-18.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Adel Mohammed El Naggar, The “ I AM” proves Jesus to be Divine.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18]MacDonald. Believer's Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments.

[19] Ibid.

[20] D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, 491.

[21]MacDonald, Believer's Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments.

[22] L. Morris, Jesus Is The Christ, p. 119.

[23]Beasley-Murray, Word Biblical Commentary: John. Vol. 36. , 252.

[24] Adel Mohammed El Naggar, The “ I AM” proves Jesus to be Divine.

[25]MacDonald, Believer's Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments.

[26] L. Morris, Jesus Is The Christ, 122.

[27] Ibid. 107-8.

[28] Adel Mohammed El Naggar, The “ I AM” proves Jesus to be Divine.

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Comments 8 comments

Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 5 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

Voted up and useful brother Van. (I AM) A marvellous effort to show Jesus as God,the Son. Thank you for this lesson.


safiq ali patel profile image

safiq ali patel 5 years ago from United States Of America

This is one of the best hubs I have come across.


Van Lal Hmangaih profile image

Van Lal Hmangaih 5 years ago from Myanmar Author

Dave Matthews, thank you very much for your well comment. May God bless you

Safiq ali Patel, it is my pleasure to receive your honor appreciation for this hub. May God bless you


heavenbound5511 profile image

heavenbound5511 5 years ago from Under the shadow of the Almighty God!

Awesome page!

Jesus is everything to me and the only reason I am where I'm at today and everyday.

Voted up & awesome!


Van Lal Hmangaih profile image

Van Lal Hmangaih 5 years ago from Myanmar Author

Heavenbound5511, thank you for reading my hub and leave nice comment, God bless :)


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Enjoyed the hub very much. Somehow it reminded me of Paul "I have been all things to all people"

I will think of your hub often, thank you.


bettybarnesb profile image

bettybarnesb 4 years ago from Bartlett, TN

Excellent hub and very remarkable details. Will follow your work. I appreciate the time you spent in formulating. Well done.

be blessed...


newjerusalem profile image

newjerusalem 3 years ago from India

Excellent article on Unique Christ.

Victor

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