7 "I Am" Statements of Jesus
There are four gospels in the New Testament:
Out of the four gospel, three of them are synoptic gospels. That means they have a common view when it comes to their books and what they wrote about Jesus. The synoptic gospels are the following.
Gospel of John
John, the remaining gospel, is different. Instead of giving a synoptic view of Jesus, John wrote about the person of Jesus. In his gospel, Jesus is reported as giving seven "I am" statements about Himself in response to somebody's question, a situation to emphasize who He was.
Even though Jesus made the statement during His time on earth, they are still current today because Jesus is still who He said He was.
Jesus' Deity Through Metaphors
During conversations throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus let His listeners know who He was. Because He did, we get to know the deity of Jesus through those same metaphors based on everyday objects that His listeners could identify with.
1. "I Am the Bread of Life"
Jesus said, "I am the bread of life" on three different occasions. That was the first "I am" statement and it was the one repeated more often.
In John 6:35-51, Jesus affirmed who He was.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (John 6:35)
I am the bread of life. (John 6:48)
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6:51)
Jesus had just fed the five thousand men besides women and children with just two barley loaves and five small fish, yet the people were asking for another miracle for Jesus to prove who He said He was.
Jesus did not say he was like the bread they had just eaten. That would have been a simile whereas He compared Himself to bread. Instead, He said He was bread which is a metaphor. By saying that, He was emphasizing that He wasn't just bread to fill someone's hungry belly, but He was the bread that sustains. He said He was the bread of life, the living bread and the bread that was offered then and today is Jesus' flesh.
2. "I Am the Light of the World"
According to John 8:12 and John 9:5, Jesus said, "I am the light of the world." That simply means that Jesus brings light into any dark situation.
It is recorded in the book of Genesis that the first thing God called forth was light. He said, "Let there be light, and there was light." Thousands of years later, God's Son said He was light.
Notice Jesus didn't just say He was light that would light up a room or even a street corner. He was inclusive by saying He was the light of the world. In other words, He was not just the light that would go bad like our light bulbs do sometimes. Jesus said He was the very embodiment of light. Wherever He is, nothing is dark because He is the light of the world.
The occasion for this saying was that a woman had been caught in adultery and the religious leaders wanted to stone her to death. Jesus told them to cast the first stone if they were without sin. Nobody could do so. Then Jesus assured them that they didn’t have to live in darkness because He was the light of the world, and He was able to bring light into their lives if they would follow Him.
3. "I Am the Door"
There is one thing that is common with all doors no matter how they are made. Doors provide an entrance in and doors provide an entrance out of something. In John 10:9, Jesus let people know that He was the entrance into their good things and exit out of their bad things.
Jesus was then, and He is today the passageway for us no matter what we encounter. Jesus is that door when nobody else or nothing can be. Jesus can take us to places that we couldn't otherwise enter without Him.
Jesus made this declaration after He had previously talked about thieves and robbers. Jesus was teaching that He is the only way to salvation. While others are thieves and robbers who may claim that they are, but He is the only way to get to His Father for eternal life.
Note: Some versions of the Bible say, "I am the gate." The same meaning is there because a gate is an entranceway and exit just like a door.
4. "I Am the Good Shepherd"
In John 10:11 and 10:14, Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd." Notice He did not call Himself a shepherd. He described Himself as the good shepherd.
A good shepherd cares for His shepherd no matter what. In biblical times, shepherds slept outside with their sheep year round. They knew their sheep, and their sheep knew them.
According to Psalm 23, the shepherd provided for and protected the sheep. On occasions, the shepherd had to use his rod and staff to keep them in line and out of danger.
Today, we can say like the sheep, "The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want." That's because the shepherd provides for us by giving us everything we need and He protects us and keeps us out of harm's way.
5. " I Am the Resurrection and the Life"
When Martha told Jesus her brother would not have died if He had come to Lazarus sooner. Jesus told her something very deep that should bring us comfort when our loved ones die. In essence, Jesus was telling Martha that it didn't matter that He wasn't there when her brother was sick because standing before her at the very moment He was the resurrection and the life.
We know the rest of the story surrounding this statement in John 11:25. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead in the presence of those who doubted Him.
Some think Jesus wept (John 11:35) over Lazarus' death, but He wept over Martha's and the others' unbelief. Jesus knew He was the resurrection and the life. His raising His friend from the dead proved it to those who didn't believe.
6. "I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life"
John 14:6 records three metaphors that Jesus used to emphasize who He was.
- The way
- The truth
- The life
The other sayings were limited to just one metaphor. Jesus was comforting His disciples about going away when the doubting disciple Thomas asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus responded by saying, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Perhaps Jesus used three metaphors to convince doubting Thomas in the presence of the other disciples that he was all three: the way, the truth, and the life.
7. "I Am the True Vine"
The entire chapter of John 15 is about the true vine. In John 15:1 and John 15:5, Jesus says, "I am the true vine."
There was no particular occasion for Jesus to say this like the other "I am statements." He was emphasizing in general that He is the vine and we are the branches. He added that in order to bear fruit, we must remain in Him.
Why John Recorded the "I Am" Statements
In the book of Exodus when Moses was at the burning bush, God told him that He was "I Am." Therefore, John chose to illustrate his points by using the "I am" statements of Jesus to show who Jesus was.
Like God, Jesus was the embodiment of the things He pointed out. While He was physically standing before the people as a human, He was Bread, Light, Door, Good Shepherd, Resurrection and Life, Way, Truth and Life, and the True Vine.