When God appeared to Moses and called him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses asked the Lord for His name so he could identify Him when he went to the people. God responded, “I AM WHO I AM…Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14).
When Jesus came to earth, He used this same name for Himself: “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58). Even Jesus’ opponents recognized that He was claiming to be God because they “picked up stones to throw at Him” (John 8:59). This was not the first time something like this happened. Earlier the Jews sought “to kill Him” because He was “calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18).
By calling Himself “I am,” Jesus declared Himself to be Deity – God in the flesh (cf. Colossians 2:9). Since Jesus was and is God, there are other facts that are also true about Him. These are highlighted in other “I am” statements of Jesus recorded in the gospel of John.
- “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst” (John 6:35). He is the source of spiritual strength and nourishment (cf. Philippians 4:13; 1 Peter 2:1-3).
- “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12). He revealed what we otherwise could not have known about the Father and the wisdom from above (cf. John 1:18; Colossians 2:2-3).
- “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9). Through Him, we can have salvation (cf. John 3:17; Acts 4:12).
- “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). He is the one who provides guidance and protection (cf. Psalm 23), even though it meant He had to sacrifice His life for us. He also did this willingly (John 10:17-18; cf. Romans 5:8; Ephesians 5:25).
- “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies’” (John 11:25). He provides hope beyond this life (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:20-22; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).
- “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me’” (John 14:6). He is the only way to the Father (cf. Hebrews 10:19-20).
- “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works” (John 14:10). There is perfect unity between Jesus and God the Father (cf. John 10:30). Therefore, we must accept both (cf. John 8:42; 13:20).
- “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Only through Him we can bear fruit that is pleasing to God (cf. John 15:8; Colossians 1:10).
Jesus is the “I am.” Since the beginning, He was “with God and…was God” (John 1:1). If we believe this, we have “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). However, if we do not believe this, we have no hope of salvation. Jesus said, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).
Jesus came to earth so that we might be saved. If we want to take advantage of this salvation, we need to believe who He is and then faithfully obey Him.
[This article was published in the November 2017 issue of Banner of the Cross]