THE SEVEN GREAT “I AM’S” OF JESUS CHRIST – Gospel of John



JESUS IS THE BREAD OF LIFE

Jesus said unto them, I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE: he that cometh to me shall not hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

John 6:35 ASV

“I am the bread of life” is one of the SEVEN great “I AM’S” of John.

This is an apt metaphor of God’s providing in Christ the means of human redemption.

In that age, bread was essential to every meal, the staff of life, a fit emblem of Christ the soul’s food.

“He that believeth on me shall never thirst” This is parallel to the previous clause and means the same, the living water and the bread of life being separate metaphors for one thing only, Jesus Christ.

“Believeth on me” should not be understood as an affirmation of the popular superstition regarding salvation by “faith only.” See John 12:42.



JESUS IS THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

Again therefore Jesus spake unto them, saying, I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD: he that followeth me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 8:12 ASV

I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD … is the second of the seven great “I am’s” of John.

Several suggestions of what might have prompted such a metaphor by Jesus are:

  • The great lamps kindled in the temple court during the feast of tabernacles.
  • The glorious sun rising at that very moment over the mount of Olives.
  • The pillar of fire that lighted the way for Israel in the wilderness; but it seems more reasonable to suppose that if Jesus needed any suggestion of such a metaphor he would have rather found it in the “light” passages of the Old Testament.

I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation to the end of the earth (Isaiah 49:6).

I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and will give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6).

But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings (Malachi 4:2).

As the sun is the source of all light, power, and energy on earth, Jesus the Sun of righteousness is the source of all spiritual light, power, and energy.

Light is the only thing that can come into contact with filth and remain uncontaminated.

Christians are the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14), but theirs is a reflected light.

Men of righteous intention seek the light (John 3:19ff).

Light either kills or develops vegetation, depending on whether or not it is rooted in soil; and the gospel has that same dual function (2 Corinthians 2:15ff). Light is its own witness.



JESUS IS THE DOOR

I AM THE DOOR; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and go out, and shall find pasture.

John 10:9 ASV

I am the door” has here a different meaning. In John 10:8, it referred to the access of the Lord to his flock; here it refers to the access of men to salvation, or, in terms of the metaphor, access to the sheepfold.

  • Here is the mixing of the metaphor and the reality for which it stands in the same sentence.
  • Sheep do not find salvation, and Christians do not find pasture; but both concepts are in this verse.
  • Remarkably, the same mixed metaphor is in the Old Testament, “So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever” (Psalms 79:13).
  • Of course, sheep do not give thanks; but it was part of the genius of inspiration that metaphors were mingled in both testaments.
  • Attention to such details as this is prerequisite to understanding this remarkable passage.


JESUS IS THE GOOD SHEPHERD

I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD: the good shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep.

John 10:11 ASV

This portion of this metaphorical passage dominates the whole passage and bears the principal weight of meaning.

A background knowledge of the Old Testament concerning the true shepherd of Israel is vital to a proper understanding of what is meant by Jesus here.

Almighty God appears throughout the Old Testament as the true shepherd of Israel. Note:

  • The Lord is my shepherd (Psalms 23:1).
  • We are thy people and the sheep of thy pasture (Psalms 79:13).
  • Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock (Psalms 80:1).
  • For He is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand (Psalms 95:7).
  • Moreover, the whole 34th chapter of Ezekiel is given over to this metaphor of God as the good shepherd and the false leaders as the evil shepherds. This great chapter is the key to all that is spoken here.
  • Now, in the light of this very extensive metaphor in the Old Testament making God to be the only true shepherd of Israel, how is one to understand Jesus when twice he thundered the message that “I am the good shepherd”?

It is no less a declaration that Jesus is God than if any other words had been employed to say it.

That he did intend it thus is proved by the fact that when the Pharisees finally realized what he meant, they attempted to stone him for blasphemy (John 10:33).

But there is a further corollary of this claim of being the Good Shepherd, and that refers to his being the Son of David. Ezekiel prophesied thus:

And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.

And I Jehovah will be their God, and my servant David prince among them; I Jehovah have spoken it (Ezekiel 34:23,24).

Ezekiel’s prophecy did not refer to the literal king David, long dead, but to the Son of David, the Messiah, who would truly reign over the kingdom upon the throne of David (spiritually).

Thus it came to pass that throughout all Israel in the times of Christ, the Messiah was usually spoken of as “the Son of David” (Matthew 22:42f). See the first verse of the New Testament.

Thus, they are in error who imagine that John did not stress the Davidic kingdom, this entire passage being full of it.

“Layeth down his life for his sheep” What is this if not a prophecy of the cross?

Here the reality far surpasses the metaphor; for, while it was true that shepherds were known to lose their lives in defense of the sheep, there is no record of any having consented to do so voluntarily.

Jesus willingly gave himself up to die for men.



JESUS IS THE RESURRECTION

Jesus said unto her, I AM THE RESURRECTION, and the life: he that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live;

John 11:25 ASV

In this lies the full explanation of Jesus’ words, “If a man keep my word, he shall never see death” (John 8:51).

Such statements of Jesus never were intended to deny the necessity of physical death. This is one of the most beloved passages in all of the sacred Scriptures.



I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE

This is the opening sentence in the litany for the dead in the Book of Common Prayer; and its healing, comforting message has echoed over millions of graves, and as bodies were buried at sea, or wherever the bereaved have turned in sorrow from the unanswering faces of their beloved dead.

This statement of Christ is the great inheritance of the human family.

  • I. Jesus’ words here contrast a belief in a doctrine with a belief in himself.

Martha found little comfort in the thought of a resurrection at the last day; but Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.”

Without disparaging Christian doctrine in any sense, we may say that it is faith in a Person, even in Jesus, that makes all the difference.

  • II. This means Jesus is God in human form, a truth he promptly proved by raising Lazarus.

Jesus had claimed Godhood as Light of the world, the Good Shepherd, the giver of eternal life, the door of the sheep, as existing before Abraham was born, and in numerous other ways. Here he appeared as Resurrection come in the flesh.

  • III. This means far more than an assertion of Jesus’ power to raise Lazarus, extending to all the dead who ever lived (John 5::24-29).

The “Come forth,” shortly to be sounded over Lazarus’ grave, is the same cry that shall awaken all the dead on earth.

  • IV. In this appears what is meant by “shall not see death.” The Lord has not abolished physical death, but its significance, having made it a beginning instead of an end.

The Christian will of course pay the last debt to nature; but, because of that saving link with Christ, the physical death he must one day experience loses all reality.



JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY

Jesus saith unto him, I AM THE WAY, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 14:6 ASV

Another of the great “I am’s” of John, this is one of the profoundest teachings ever uttered.

It presents Jesus as the unique means of access to God.

The mountain truth of this text, presents Jesus Christ as the sole answer to the human problems of sin, ignorance, and mortality.

As the way, Jesus is the answer to man’s sin; as the truth, he is the answer to man’s ignorance; and as the life, he is the answer to man’s mortality.

There is no book logic to refute or uphold these contentions, only the logic of life … Man is not delivered from his lower life by his own power but remains helpless without the Great Companion.




JESUS IS THE WAY; AND THE TRUTH; AND THE LIFE

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.

John 14:6 RSV

Jesus is the way. Period.

  • Apart from him there is no solution of the problem of sin. Part of the problem is the universal tendency to deny that sin exists.
  • Every crime, however vicious, is rationalized. The major thesis of humanism is that there is really nothing much wrong with man as he already is.
  • True, certain restrictions are admitted; but men fancy that if they can only shake off the chains that bind them they will be all right.
  • Strike off their political chains, their economic chains, their psychological inhibitions, etc., and presto! the new age will appear.

All such human air-castles fall in one awful consideration, that of the universal wickedness of mankind.

Every utopian ship of all history has split open and sunk upon the submerged reef of unregenerated human nature.

In trying to find out how to live, men try to evaluate and compare various concepts and systems, and by deduction hope to find what is best; but the universal experience of humanity has demonstrated that whatever of the good, the pure and the beautiful that men have discovered – all of it derived from him who is the way.

The sin problem is solved only in Christ.

He alone reveals man’s sin, ransoms him from the tyranny of it, removes him from the practice of it, remits it, and even overrules it for his benefit – provided only and always that the sinner must yield himself to the Lord and walk in his way; for he is the way.

Jesus is the truth.

In this, our Lord is the answer to man’s ignorance; but, in this sector also, man professes no need, pretending to be wise. In the dictionary that he wrote himself, is he not listed as “homo sapiens”?

Look at the letters he has written after and before his name: Ph.D., M.D., Hon., Pres., etc., etc.; but, if man can bear to hear it, he would be just as accurately listed as “homo ignoramus”!

Human wisdom is foolishness with God (1 Corinthians 1:20); and only a little reflection will reveal that God is right.

Apart from God, man is ignorant of his origin, destiny, and the meaning of life. He cannot see one split-second into the future, but builds a house the day before an earthquake, elects scoundrels to public office, and in all social and political considerations moves with the intelligence (!) of a buffalo herd on stampede.

Even in the areas of his greatest achievements, man is embarrassed by the fact that every truth he has ever discovered only raised a hundred other questions harder than the one he solved.

The discovery of the power of the atom is only the most recent example of this.

He cannot know what caused time, space, or matter, and does not have the slightest idea of the extent or duration of such things.

He is an infant crying in the night with no language but a cry, until he shall turn to him who is the truth.

Man’s vaunted knowledge has only multiplied his ignorance.

He surveys from his tiny ant hill the morning star and the band of Orion; he cries for light, wisdom, and knowledge; but, as he pursues this will-o’-the-wisp, he is mocked by his own ignorance. The silent stars go by, and the whirling suns brush him into the grave.

But in Christ who is the truth, all that is changed.

He is the answer to man’s ignorance. In Jesus, the soul is secure in the fact that ultimate truth is not another gadget, or a new formula, but a person, God in Christ, man’s friend from above, who is at once the Cause and the explanation of all things.

Jesus is the Life. In this, he is the answer to man’s mortality.

Death is an ugly problem for man, but how does he face up to it?

He will not even speak of it.

Even when the last agony is upon him, his physician will hardly tell him the truth; his wife assures him that he is better; and even his minister speaks of what he will do when he gets well.

What a tragic blindness it is that forces the great, the intelligent, the prominent and powerful on earth to go on living as if death had no claim upon them.

The greatest falsehood of the age is the allegation that Christianity is a psychological escape hatch for defeated and frustrated souls.

In Christ only do men face up to the fact of death and go down to the grave shouting, “Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

All of man’s efforts to negate the problem of mortality are pathetic.

With what fanfare and enthusiasm he greets every new medicine or surgical skill; but has he abolished death?

Here and there he might indeed have plucked a feather from the wings of the angel of death; but the shadow of those wings still darkens every threshold.

Only in Christ does the redeemed soul march onward in the security of him who is the resurrection and the life.

Jesus broke up every funeral he ever attended, promised to raise from the dead all who ever lived, and taught his disciples not to fear them that may kill the body.

His is the glorious religion that teaches men how to live with all the facts of life and of death.

His is the only name that means anything when spoken over the cold form of the dead.

This is the sublime truth that has sent his church shouting down two thousand years, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.



JESUS IS THE VINE

I AM THE VINE, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for apart from me ye can do nothing.

John 15:5 ASV

Not only will the husbandman (God) reject the degenerate vine, he will also give the strictest attention to the true vine, extended here to mean not merely Christ but all the church “in him.”

One not in Christ has the same status as a severed branch.

Note that the responsibility of Christians is retained, the fruitless members being taken away. Even those who bear fruit are pruned to make them more fruitful.

That very evening had revealed Judas as a branch which the Father took away and Peter as a branch that would be pruned.

Of course, the primary application to the analogy here is to the apostles; but there is a sense in which, by extension, the teachings apply to all who are in the Lord.

Here is the whole prospectus of God’s kingdom in embryo, making this verse rank with Genesis 3:15 as a statement of the whole plan of salvation.

Here is the achievement of God’s righteousness, the secret of justification, and the basis of the redeemed’s avoidance of judgment – the whole works; it’s all here!

God’s way of accounting men righteous is that of totally identifying them with Jesus Christ who is righteous.

The righteousness God imputes to men is a genuine righteousness, a total and absolute perfection, achieved by Jesus Christ and made available to men “in him.”

Any so-called “righteousness” based upon anything else is spurious. Nothing that a sinner might either believe or do could make either his faith or his actions the grounds of his being accounted righteous in the sight of God. “All spiritual blessings are in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).

God therefore makes a sinner righteous by bringing him into Christ, identifying him with Christ and as Christ, thus enabling all the righteousness of the Holy One to be in fact the righteousness of the redeemed soul in Christ (Galatians 2:20).

No man can be saved as John Doe, Joe Bloke, or whoever he is. The only way any man can be saved is as Christ and in Christ.

The identification of believers with Christ is revealed in this verse to be exactly the same as the identification of Christ with God. God is in Christ; Christ is in God; Christ is in Christians; and Christians are in Christ.

The loss of personal identity for purposes of procuring justification was what Jesus referred to in “He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:39).

The Seven Signs of Christ

But our commonwealth is in HEAVEN, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Philippians 3:20‭-‬21 RSV

Do not let anyone tell you that HEAVEN is not real!

IT IS!


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