The “I Am” Statements of Jesus
Just the other day, someone said to me, “Well, Jesus wasn’t God. He never said he was God.” A lot of people want to believe that, but it’s not true, especially when we read the Bible, really study what Jesus actually taught, and see the evidence he provides. As I started studying this, I focused on the gospel of John, where I found many “I Am” statements, which is how God describes himself.
When Moses said, “Who shall I say is sending me?” God replies, “I AM WHO I AM.” In other words, I am today. I was yesterday. I will be tomorrow. I Am that I Am. This is my name. In the Hebrew, the name God used for himself is “YHWH.” The four letters, also known as the Tetragramaton, is translated “I Am”
So, when Jesus said “I am…” he claimed attributes only God could possess. He was making a very specific claim to be God. This was not taken lightly by his followers or the people who heard him teach, so we should not ignore it either.
Here’s one of my favorite “I Am” statements, because it reminds me of Jesus’ influence in my daily life:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:1-8
Jesus says, “I am the true vine,” which means that all those things in our lives that compete with him, trying to tell us they can bring life to us (our careers, our beauty, our health, relationships, everything that pretends to be a life source) are not true.
Here are some more wonderful “I Am” statements from Jesus in the book of John. John 6:35, says, “I am the bread of life.” John 8:12 says, “I am the light of the world.” He sustains us, and he’s our source of spiritual wisdom.
In John 10:7, Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.” Jesus has given us free and unlimited access to his kingdom. In John 10:11, he says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” He paid the price for our sins.
In John 11:25 says, “I am the resurrection and the life.” He’s the one who gives us and guarantees us eternal life with God our Father.
In John 14:6 says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He’s the only one who can lead us to our Creator.
Jesus is making some very big claims about himself. He is identifying himself with God the Creator. A lot of people say, “Jesus was a good teacher. He had a great message. He told us to love each other, so let’s just embrace the message of Jesus. He was a pretty good guy.” But when we do that, we are missing the outrageous claim Jesus made.
It is outrageous!
There are people who absolutely dislike the fact that Jesus made this claim. You might be one of them.
Look at the way C.S. Lewis puts it. “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg or else the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God or else a madman or something worse.” Mere Christianity
John puts together all these statements of Jesus to make the point clear. This is one of the key reasons why Jesus was killed: because he claimed to be God and the religious people at the time saw that as blasphemy. But God proved that Jesus was telling the Truth through the resurrection.
Remember, one of the great “I Am” statements is “I am the light of the world.” He came so there no longer would be darkness and we could live in his light.
Which “I Am” statement is your favorite and why?
Ask God to show himself to you in that way today, as the great I Am in your life.