The Seven “I AM’s”

“I Am the Bread of Life”

(1st I AM)

 John 6:22-40: 22 On the following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except that one which His disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples, but His disciples had gone away alone— 23 however, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks— 24 when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. 25 And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?”

26 Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”

28 Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”

29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

30 Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’

32 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”

35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Commentary: The crowd who had been fed were still on the eastern shore of the sea. They saw Jesus compel His disciples to get into the one boat which was there. But since Jesus did not get into the boat, the crowd supposed that He had stayed in the area. After some time they realized He was no longer there. Some boats from Tiberias landed, so the people decided to seek Jesus in the Capernaum region and got into the boats. The people’s question, When did You get here? introduces His long discourse in Capernaum. Jesus did not explain how or when He crossed the lake, for His walking on the water was a private sign for the disciples only.

6:26. Jesus began with the solemn words, I tell you the truth. Jesus spoke these words four times in this discourse. This drew attention to the importance of what He was about to teach. He rebuked them for their materialistic motivation and their lack of spiritual perception. They saw miraculous signs, but to them it was only an easy meal. They failed to see what it signified.

6:27. When Jesus said, Do not work for food that spoils, He was not condoning laziness. Rather He was saying that people should expend their efforts for what will last forever. “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”. Physical food is short-lived but spiritual food leads to eternal life. The Son of Man (who has access to heaven) will give people this spiritual food, which is ultimately Christ Himself. God the Father Himself authenticated Jesus’ claim that He is true heavenly “food.”

6:28. The people recognized that Jesus was saying God had a requirement for them. They would do God’s requirement if He would inform them what it was. They believed that they could please God and thus obtain eternal life by doing good works.

6:29. Jesus’ response to their question was a flat contradiction of their thinking. They could not please God by doing good works. There is only one work of God, that is, one thing God requires. They need to put their trust in the One the Father has sent. Because of their sin people cannot please God by doing good works for salvation. God demands that people recognize their inability to save themselves and receive His gift.

6:30-31. In response the people demanded a miraculous sign. They thought God’s order is see and believe. But the divine order is believe and see. They did not have faith or spiritual perception, but they understood that Jesus was proclaiming something new.

His coming was claimed as an advance over Moses. They reasoned, “If You are more than Moses, do more than Moses.” The crowd that asked for a sign from Jesus must have felt that the feeding of the 5,000 did not compare with Moses’ gift of bread from heaven. They remembered the divine gift of manna. They thought Jesus’ feeding was less significant because manna fed the whole nation for 40 years. But they missed two things. First, many of the Israelites who were fed 40 years did not believe. The important thing is not the magnitude of the sign but the perception of its significance. Second, both Moses and Jesus were authenticated by God’s signs; therefore both should be listened to and believed.

6:32. In a solemn revelation Jesus corrected their ideas in three ways. (1) The Father, not Moses, gave the manna. (2) The Father, was still giving “manna” then, not merely in the past. (3) The true Bread from heaven is Jesus, not the manna. Thus the supposed superiorities of Moses and his sign vanish. Manna was food for the body, and it was useful. But Jesus is God’s full provision for people in their whole existence. Jesus repeatedly said He had come down from heaven.

6:33. God is the Source of all life. The Son has life in Himself and He has come to give real and lasting life to people. Sin cuts them off from God, who is Life, and they die spiritually and physically. Christ has come down from heaven to give life to the world. Jesus is thus the genuine Bread of God.

6:34. As yet, the crowd did not perceive that Jesus is the genuine Bread which He had been describing. Like the woman at the well, they asked for this better food. And they wanted it continually (from now on), not like the manna which lasted for 40 years.

6:35. I am the Bread of Life. This corrected two more errors in their thinking: (1) The food of which He spoke refers to a Person, not a commodity. (2) And once someone is in right relationship to Jesus, he finds a satisfaction which is everlasting, not temporal. This “I am” statement is the first in a series of momentous “I am” revelations. “Bread of Life” means bread which provides life. Jesus is man’s necessary “food.” In Western culture, bread is often optional, but it was an essential staple then. Jesus promised, He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty. The “nevers” are emphatic in Greek.

6:36. Jesus then rebuked the crowd for their lack of faith. They had the great privilege of seeing Him and yet they did not believe. Seeing does not necessarily lead to believing.

6:37. Jesus then gave the ultimate explanation of their lack of faith: the Father works sovereignly in people’s lives. There is an election of God which is the Father’s gift to the Son. The Son has no concern that His work will be ineffective, for the Father will enable people to come to Jesus. Jesus has confidence. But people may have confidence also. (the crippled man’s response to Jesus’ question, “Do you want to get well?” [John 5:6-9]) One who comes to Jesus for salvation will by no means be driven away.

6:38-39. Jesus then repeated His claim about His heavenly origin. The reason He came down from heaven was to do the will of the Father who sent Him. The Father’s will is that those whom He gives to the Son will not suffer a single loss and all will be raised to life in the resurrection. This passage is strong in affirming the eternal security of the believer.

6:40. This verse repeats and reinforces the ideas of the previous verses. One who looks and believes on Jesus for salvation has his destiny secure. The divine decree has insured it. He has eternal life (John 6:47, 50-51, 54, 58) and will be raised at the last day.

 

I Am the Light of the World

“2nd I AM”

 John 8:12: “I Am the Light of the World”

12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

Commentary: 8:12. This discourse continues Jesus’ public teaching in the city of Jerusalem in the temple area. How fitting that during the Feast of Tabernacles, when the large lamps were burning, Jesus . . . said, I am the Light of the world. The world is in darkness, a symbol of evil, sin, and ignorance (Isa. 9:2; Matt. 4:16; 27:45; John 3:19). “Light” in the Bible is a symbol of God and His holiness (Acts 9:3; 1 John 1:5). Jesus is “the Light,” not merely a light or another light among many lights. He is the only Light, “the true Light” (John 1:9), for the whole world. When Jesus said, Whoever follows Me, He meant whoever believes and obeys Him. Jesus was speaking of salvation.

Coming to Christ for salvation results in a different kind of life. A believer will never walk in darkness, that is, he will not live in it. He does not remain in the realm of evil and ignorance (John 12:46) for he has Christ as his Light and salvation.

 

A Title of Deity

“3rd I AM”

 John 8:58-59: 58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” 59 Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

Commentary: 8:58. Jesus then affirmed His superiority over the prophets and Abraham. Abraham came into being; but when he was born, Jesus was already existing. I Am is a title of Deity (cf., Ex. 3:14; Isa. 41:4; 43:11-13; John 8:28); the Jews’ response showed they understood it that way. Jesus, because of His equality with God, existed from all eternity (John 1:1).

8:59. Jesus’ clear affirmation of His deity evoked a crisis. They had to decide whether He was what He claimed or was a blasphemer. Stoning was the normal punishment for this sin. The words, but Jesus hid Himself, could refer to a supernatural means of escape. The NIV’s slipping away (lit., “He went out”) implies ordinary means. Once again His time had not yet come.

 

I AM The Door

“4th I AM”

 John 10:1-16: “I Am the Good Shepherd”

10     “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.

7 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

 Commentary: 10:12-13. In contrast with the Good Shepherd, who owns, cares, feeds, protects, and dies for His sheep, the one who works for wages—the hired hand—does not have the same commitment. He is interested in making money and in self-preservation. If a wolf attacks, he runs away and his selfishness causes the flock to be scattered. Obviously he cares nothing for the sheep. Israel had many false prophets, selfish kings, and imitation messiahs. The flock of God suffered constantly from their abuse.

10:14-15. In contrast with a hired workman, the Good Shepherd has an intimacy with and personal interest in the sheep. I know My sheep stresses His ownership and watchful oversight. My sheep know Me stresses their reciprocal knowledge of and intimacy with Him. This intimacy is modeled on the loving and trusting mutual relationship of the Father and the Son. Jesus’ care and concern is evidenced by His prediction of His coming death for the flock. Some shepherds have willingly died while protecting their sheep from danger. Jesus willingly gave His life for His sheep (on their behalf as their Substitute. His death gives them life).

10:16. The other sheep . . . not of this flock refers to Gentiles who would believe. His coming death would bring them also to the Father. They too will listen to My voice. Jesus continues to save people as they hear His voice in the Scriptures. Acts 18:9-11 illustrates how this works out in the history of the church. “I have many people in this city” (Corinth), the Lord told Paul. One flock and one Shepherd speaks of the church with believers from Jewish and Gentile “sheep pens” in one body with Christ as Head.

 

I Am the Resurrection and the Life

“5th I AM”

 John 11:17-27: 17 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away. 19 And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

20 Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

 Commentary: 11:17. Apparently Lazarus had died soon after the messengers left. Jesus was then a day’s journey away. Since Palestine is warm and decomposition sets in quickly, a person was usually buried the same day he died.

11:18-19. The fact that Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem points up two things. It explains why many Jews from Jerusalem were at the scene of this great miracle. It also prepares the reader for the coming climax which was to take place in the great city. When a person died, the Jews mourned for a prolonged period of time. During this period it was considered a pious duty to comfort the bereaved.

11:20-22. Martha, the activist, went . . . to meet Jesus while Mary, the contemplative sister, waited. Martha’s greeting is a confession of faith. She really believed that Jesus could have healed her brother if He had been there. No criticism of Jesus seems to be implied since she knew her brother was dead before the messengers got to Jesus. Her words But I know . . . God will give You whatever You ask might imply by themselves that she was confident Lazarus would be resuscitated. But her actions in protest at the tomb and her words to Jesus contradict that interpretation. Her words may be taken as a general statement of the Father’s blessing on Jesus.

11:23-24. Your brother will rise again. Since the word “again” is not in the Greek it is better to omit it in the translation. This promise sets the stage for Jesus’ conversation with Martha. She had no thought of an immediate resuscitation but she did believe in the final resurrection at the last day.

11:25-26. I am the Resurrection and the Life. This is the fifth of Jesus’ great “I am” revelations. The Resurrection and the Life of the new Age is present right now because Jesus is the Lord of life. Jesus’ words about life and death are seemingly paradoxical. A believer’s death issues in new life. In fact, the life of a believer is of such a quality that he will never die spiritually. He has eternal life, and the end of physical life is only a sleep for his body until the resurrection unto life. At death the spiritual part of a believer, his soul, goes to be with the Lord.

11:27. Martha gave a great confession of faith in Christ. She agreed with Jesus’ exposition about eternal life for those who believe in Him. Then she confessed three things about Jesus. He is (a) the Christ (“Messiah”), (b) the Son of God—which is probably a title of the Messiah—and (c) the One who was to come into the world. She believed that Jesus is the Messiah who came to do God’s will, but as yet she had no hint of the coming miracle regarding her brother.

 

 The Way, The Truth, and The Life

“6th I AM”

 John 14:1-6: Christ Comforts His Disciples

1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Christ Answers Thomas

5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Commentary: 14:1-2. To comfort the disciples, Jesus gave them several exhortations along with promises. Do not let your hearts be troubled, He said. “Troubled” is tarassesthō (“stirred, agitated”) from the same verb translated “troubled” in 11:33; 13:21; 14:27. One’s heart is the center of his personality. Each believer is responsible for the condition of his heart. By a firm trust in God the Father and Jesus the Son, they could relieve their soul-sorrow and be sustained in their coming tests. When Jesus said, Trust in God; trust also in Me, He was probably giving commands, not making statements. Death should not be a terror to them because Jesus was leaving to prepare a place for them in heaven, the Father’s house.

14:3-4. I will come back refers here, not to the Resurrection or to a believer’s death, but to the Rapture of the church when Christ will return for His sheep and they will be with Him. Jesus said nothing about the nature of the place where He was going. It is sufficient that believers will be with the Father and Jesus. The disciples knew how to get to heaven. He told them, You know the way to the place where I am going. Throughout His ministry, Jesus had been showing them the way, but as Thomas indicated they did not fully understand.

14:5-6. Thomas’ statement (We don’t know where You are going) and his question (So how can we know the way?) reflected the perplexity of the Eleven. They would remain puzzled until His death and resurrection and until the advent of the Spirit. They had all the information but they could not put it together.

Jesus’ words, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life, are the sixth of Jesus’ seven “I am” statements in the Gospel of John (6:48; 8:12; 10:9, 11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1). Jesus is the “Way” because He is the “Truth” and the “Life.” As the Father is Truth and Life, Jesus is the embodiment of God so people can come to the Father. By His words, No one comes to the Father except through Me, Jesus stressed that salvation, contrary to what many people think, is not obtainable through many ways. Only one Way exists. Jesus is the only access to the Father because He is the only One from the Father.

 

The True Vine

“7th I AM”

 John 15:1-8: The Relationship of Believers to Christ

15     “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

Commentary: 15:1. I am the true Vine. This is the last of the seven great “I am” statements in John. Israel was God’s choice vine on which he lavished care and attention. He longed for fruit, but the vine (Israel) became degenerate and produced rotten fruit. Therefore Jesus, as “the true Vine,” fulfills what God had intended for Israel. The Father is the Gardener who cultivates and protects the Vine.

15:2. He (i.e., the Gardener, the Father) desires fruit, which is mentioned eight times in this chapter. A progression is seen: fruit, more fruitful, and “much fruit”. The fruit which God desired from Israel was loving obedience, righteousness, and justice. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He cuts off. The phrase “in Me” does not mean the same thing as Paul’s words “in Christ.” Here it is part of the metaphor of the Vine and seems to mean, “every person who professes to be My disciple (a ­branch) is not necessarily a true follower.” A branch that bears no fruit is obviously dead. Therefore, like Judas, it is cut off. Every year in Palestine gardeners prune their vines. They cut off the dead wood which has no life in it and trim the living branches so that their yield will be greater.

15:3. The disciples had been cleansed by Jesus and His message, but one, Judas, was not cleansed.

15:4. Fruitfulness is the result of the Son’s life being reproduced in a disciple. The disciple’s part is to remain. The word remain, a key word in John’s theology, is menō which occurs 11 times in this chapter, 40 times in the entire Gospel, and 27 times in John’s epistles. What does it mean to remain? It can mean, first, to accept Jesus as Savior. Second, it can mean to continue or persevere in believing. Third, it can also mean believing, loving obedience. Without faith, no life of God will come to anyone. Without the life of God, no real fruit can be produced: Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.

15:5-6. A disciple’s continual abiding with Jesus (If a man remains in Me)—and the indwelling of Jesus in a believer (and I in him)—result in abundant fruit. But those who do not believe face disaster. A branch without life is dead and cut off. It is worthless and therefore is thrown into the fire and burned. What did Jesus mean by these symbolic words about vine branches being burned? These words have been interpreted in at least three ways: (1) The “burned” branches are Christians who have lost their salvation. (But this contradicts many passages, e.g., 3:16, 36; 5:24; 10:28-29; Rom. 8:1.) (2) The “burned” branches represent Christians who will lose rewards but not salvation at the judgment seat of Christ. (But Jesus spoke here of dead branches; such a branch is thrown away and withers.) (3) The “burned” branches refer to professing Christians who, like Judas, are not genuinely saved and therefore are judged. Like a dead branch, a person without Christ is spiritually dead and therefore will be punished in eternal fire. Judas was with Jesus; he seemed like a “branch.” But he did not have God’s life in him; therefore he departed; his destiny was like that of a dead branch.

15:7-8. In contrast with verse 6, the emphasis in these verses is positive: remain with Jesus and bear much fruit. Effective prayer is based on faith in Christ and on His words remaining in believers. Christ’s words condition and control such a believer’s mind so that his prayers conform to the Father’s will. Since his prayer is in accord with God’s will, the results are certain—it will be given you. Fulfilled prayers bring glory to the Father because, like Jesus, His disciples are doing the heavenly Father’s will (“Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth” [Matt. 6:10]).

 

Knowledge is the apprehension of truth; wisdom is its application to life. Knowledge is prudent judgment and wisdom is prudent action. Both are found in Christ (cf. Rom. 11:33; 1 Cor. 12:8) whose wisdom is foolishness to the world (1 Cor. 1:21-25), but who is the power of God by which a believer receives “righteousness, holiness, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30).

God is testing us every day and has given us the right to make our own choices. Do you know which ones are the right choices in Gods mind?

Fear God, love God, honor God, and trust God with all your heart, mind and soul and you will receive and experience the joy of the promises of God’s blessings in His time.

 

Prayer:   Father in heaven, I praise You for Your Son and the Holy Spirit. I praise You for Your grace in sending us Your wisdom about the “Seven I AM’s.”  It gives me great comfort in knowing who You are and how loving, how giving and how gracious You are. Please bless all of those who have read this article for they too are seeking Your righteous truth, love, wisdom and understanding.

May God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit and Christianity be our guiding lights, our safety nets and our inspiration for loving happiness in all of Your kingdom. Father into your hands I commend my spirit. Not my will, but Yours be done. Please come Lord Jesus.

I pray in Jesus sweet name and to His glory through the power of the Holy Spirit,

Amen.

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