The Great I AM
by Pr. Dave Mann
In today’s passage, we read two of the seven I AM statements found in John’s gospel.
I am the bread of life (6:35).
I am the light of the world (8:12).
I am the gate/door (10:7).
I am the good shepherd (10:11, 14).
I am the resurrection and the life (11:25).
I am the way, the truth, and the life (14:6).
I am the true vine (15:1).
Folded into these seven I AM statements is a clear link with the God who revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush – I AM WHO I AM. The voice said to Moses, “This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you'.” (Exodus 3:14)
There are two other times in the gospel of John when Jesus used the phrase “I AM” to clarify that he was more than an ordinary human being, that he was and is the eternally pre-existent second person of the Trinity.
Before Abraham was born, I am (8:58). In response to this proclamation, the Jews took up stones to kill him, because they understood this statement to be blasphemous.
Following Jesus’ time of prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, he was approached by a cohort of soldiers and religious leaders. Jesus asked them who they were looking for, to which they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replied, “I am he.” Then, something bizarre happened – the whole group fell backward to the ground (18:5-6). This can best be understood by the fact that the word “he” in Jesus’ reply is in italics. This indicates that the word “he” is not in the original Greek. Jesus actually said, “I am” -- claiming the divine name of God for himself. The human show of force to arrest Jesus was insignificant before the power of I AM. Jesus was not forced to comply with their will; he was voluntarily giving himself up to the cross. He was laying down his life for the sheep. In today’s passage, Jesus states four different times that he has the authority to lay down his life (10:11, 15, 17, 18).
If Jesus were not the Son of God, the incarnation of the second person of the Trinity, these I AM statements would be at least total foolishness, or at worst audacious blasphemy. But because Jesus is who he said he was, these statements make complete sense. May we all be inspired to fall down in worship to declare our full allegiance to The Great I AM!
O Great I AM, you who have existed for all time and will exist into eternity, may your name be understood for all it is. May my life fall before you in humility and awe and wonder. In Jesus’ name, Amen.