Have you ever wondered about the “I Am” Statements of Jesus?
I am tired. I am hungry. I am busy. Those “I am “statements give a glimpse of how I feel. These are temporary.
When I have had a nap, had lunch and finish my job, I no longer have those feelings. I also have some I am statements that do not change.
During Jesus ministry on earth, He had a number of I am statements. These were not temporary but eternal. These statements were not feelings but fulfilment.
In many ways, these I am statements that Jesus declares in John are word pictures. We love word pictures as they help us to understand in ways we can see and know.
In these pictures, we see different characteristics of Jesus. While these can be viewed as word pictures, there is a deeper meaning that we sometimes miss.
Only John’s gospel records these sayings of Jesus. John’s purpose in writing the gospel was “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,” (John 20:31) The audience that John was writing to was primarily Jewish which means that knew the Old Testament.
When they heard these sayings of Jesus, they thought of the Old Testament prophecies and teaching. Let’s try to understand these statements as those who heard them would have understood.
The I Am Statements of Jesus
I am the bread of life – John 6:35-41
Jesus has finished teaching. It was there on the hillside that he taught 5,000 and there with just five barley loaves and two fish Jesus fed the multitude.
The next day the crowd came again looking for food. Jesus reminded them of how God provided manna or bread for the Israelites. (Exodus 16)
Manna was gathered every day except the day before Sabbath. The people were to gather what they needed. Every day they had to gather it again.
When Jesus says, “I am the bread of life”. I am the one that completely satisfies, “You won’t go hungry.” God provided manna for the Israelites in the wilderness but that was only temporary. When Jesus states, “I am the bread of life.”
He is saying, “God has provided not temporarily but permanently. Look to Jesus to satisfy the desires in your own life.
I am the light of the world – John 8:12, 9:5
John begins his gospel with the theme of light. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5)
Twice in John’s gospel, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.” The first time he is speaking and just makes the statement. He then compares it to darkness.
Isaiah 9:2 speaks about the darkness that people lived in. Yet in the darkness there is hope, “have seen a great light”. There is hope that Isaiah is saying that hope is found in a child yet to be born (Isaiah 9:6). The people were looking for light.
Jesus comes and says to them, “I am the light that you have been waiting for.” If you follow me, you won’t walk in darkness. That promise is one for us today as well. Jesus brings light to our darkness.
I am the gate and good shepherd – John 10:7-14
Jesus has just healed a man blind from birth. As usual, some of the Pharisees are there and they begin to question some of what Jesus has just said. Jesus begins to teach them about the stranger versus the shepherd.
Jesus sends out the twelve in Matthew 10:5 telling them to go to the lost sheep of Israel. The sheep have been waiting for a good shepherd. This is how the LORD speaks about this in Jeremiah 50:6, “My people have been lost sheep.
Their shepherds have led them astray, turning them away on the mountains. From mountain to hill they have gone. They have forgotten their fold.” There is a longing for the good shepherd.
Isaiah described the shepherd, “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that with young.” (Isaiah 40:11)
When will the good shepherd come? How the Israelites looked forward to that shepherd.
Jesus begins by saying that he is the door or gate to the sheepfold. That is another way of saying that he is the shepherd. The shepherd is the one that would sit there at the doorway.
He would keep the sheep from wandering out and also protect the sheep from someone wanting in. Even more than protection, the shepherd knows his sheep and the sheep know him.
A good shepherd is one that will lay down his life for his sheep. Jesus did that not just for the lost sheep of Israel but for everyone. Jesus is the good shepherd.
I am the resurrection and the life. – John 11:17-27
Lazarus was ill and so his sisters sent for Jesus to come. Jesus didn’t rush but rather waited. He waited because he had something beyond the request. Jesus arrives and begins to talk with Martha.
She tells him that if he had been here Lazarus would not have died. Jesus tells her that her brother will rise again. She had confidence that he will rise in the resurrection. To that Jesus replies, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
Death entered the world in the Garden of Eden. The place where life began is also the place where death began. When God created life, he breathed into him the breath of life (Genesis 2:7).
Then through disobedience death enters the world. Ever since then man has been looking and longing for resurrection and life.
In the seven words that Jesus says to Martha, he reveals who he is, the one for which they have been looking and longing for. Jesus brings life not just to Lazarus that day but to each of us. That life is not just physical but also spiritual life.
I am the way, the truth, and the life. – John 14:6
Jesus is gathered with his disciples and is giving some of his final teachings before his death. Jesus speaks of heaven and that he will prepare a place. Thomas asks the question that many ask, “How can we know the way?” (John 14:5)
Jesus answers with this I am statement, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus is the way to know God and to be right with God. All through the Old Testament, it was through the sacrifice and offerings but those had to be done repeatedly.
Jesus is the way. Satan who is called the father of lies brought the lies into the Garden of Eden. Ever since then man has looked for truth. Jesus is the truth. Jesus is the fulfilment of all that has been longed for so many years.
I am the true vine – John 15:1
Living in an agricultural world, vines were important. It was a sign of living in peace to be able to plant and have vines. Everyone desired to have a vine to sit under.
A bit like the dream of a house in the country. “but they shall sit every man under his vine and his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.” (Micah 4:4)
Sing and rejoice for the vine is here. (Isaiah 27:3) Jesus gives us a reason for joy. He brings peace.
Jesus is also giving us an invitation to join with him to abide with him. He says that we are branches. The reality of the fulfilment is even more than was dreamed.
These simple statements give us a picture of who Jesus is. The most important thing that we need to know is that Jesus is the son of God who came to earth as a man to be the sacrifice we needed so we be restored to God.
These statements confirm that Jesus is the promised Messiah. Believe him. He is all this and so much more.
Thank Jesus for who he is and what he has done for us. Rejoice to know the one who said, “I am . . .” He fulfils all the longings of our hearts.
Which of the I am statements of Jesus speaks to you the most today and why?
Beth lives in England with her family. She is involved in outreach to international students in her city and volunteers at her church. She enjoys digging into the Bible, reading books, and talking with people. She is the author of A-Z Prayer Guides which can be found on her blog. She blogs at As He Leads is Joy which provides Guidance for Women who want to Grow.