7 “I AM” Statements of Jesus
I AM the way, and the truth, and the life…
Last Saturday, my friend Nadeem Hamid, came and lectured to and interacted with TRC members on the topic of “The Theology of Islam”.
Through Nadeem’s presentation, our interaction and some good questions, we learned how to engage someone of another faith, and our distinctives became super clear.
Someone actually asked Nadeem if he believes we worship the same God. Nadeem replied that Jesus is the big problem for Muslims (paraphrase). It’s not a disbelief in Jesus, as they actually believe him a prophet, returning to help bring the world to Allah and to be read and obeyed. What is attributed to Jesus’ in word and actions in the New Testament keeps a true Muslim from seeing Christians as worshiping the same God.
Jesus, however, left us no doubt who he is.
Point: Jesus is THE distinctive for us. Jesus either attracts or repels. One is either for Jesus or against Jesus.
Matthew 12:30-31 (ESV) “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
These 7 “I AM” statements put Jesus into the category of either Lord, God, Creator, King of the universe OR liar OR crazy and deranged OR both.
John’s intent, and experience with Jesus is clear:
John 20:30-31 (ESV) Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Jesus is the “I AM”. We have come to believe and we worship King Jesus as God with no other to share his glory.
Setting: On approaching our passage, John’s narrative moves to slow motion over the last few hours of Jesus life from chapter 13 on.
Passover: Jesus has just been observing the Passover with his closest disciples.
Spiritual Warfare: There is intense spiritual warfare happening. Satan has put it into Judas’ heart to betray Jesus. Judas is mulling over how to do that rather than listening to Jesus.
Servant Leadership: Jesus is setting the example of service by washing his disciples feet.
Hardship: Then Jesus reminds them of the cross that’s coming… “Truly, Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” John 13:21
Hardship: Then Jesus drops more cross on them… “Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, where I am going you cannot come.” John 13:33
John 14:1 begins to sink in now. These disciple’s hearts are troubled. This festive meal has not turned into a sad occasion.
What do we see? What does it mean?
- Being with Jesus is better, and his people have come to delight in being with Jesus. John 13:31-38
- Comfort is found by trusting in Jesus.
“Believe in God; believe also in me.” (2 imperative statements, can also be indicative)
Indicative – Belief in God is belief in me.
Imperative – Believe in God. Believe in me.
Both have the same theological implication that Jesus is God.
The imperative jolts the saddened disciples from their funk to an action.
These guys would have to let go of social norms, family ties and geographical familiarity to trust Jesus, so Jesus commands them to trust him as they trust Yahweh.
This command has the effect of getting their focus off of their feelings and back onto the mission.
- With the Father there is abundant room for all who will trust Jesus to “abide/dwell”, and Jesus goes to the cross to make access.
“Monei” is not “mansion”. It’s the genitive / feminine / noun of “meno” which means to remain or dwell.
In John 15, Jesus will use this word many times to teach us about the “Radical Life”…abiding in, remaining in, the Vine.
In the Father’s house there is abundant room for remaining in Jesus.
- Jesus GOES to the cross to make our access, and he ascends to “general” the task of bringing all who will repent and believe to abide with him, AND he sends Holy Spirit so he is with us until he bodily returns.
Some argue that this verse is about Jesus’ second coming. Some argue it is about Jesus sending the Spirit as he promised later in chapter 14.
Yes and yes!
- Jesus is how one abides with/in the Father…the way, the truth, the life.
“Way, truth, and life all have relevance, the triple expression emphasizing the many-sidedness of the saving work. ‘Way’ speaks of connection between two persons or things, and here the link between God and sinners. ‘Truth’ reminds us of the complete reliability of Jesus in all that he does and is. And ‘life’ stresses the fact that mere physical existence matters little…Jesus is asserting in strong terms the uniqueness and the sufficiency of his work for sinners.”
How do we obey?
- Put all your eggs in Jesus’ basket.
As the disciples would have to let go of so much to follow Jesus, Jesus didn’t fail to take care of them.
Luke 18:18-31 (ESV) And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
- We must preach, teach, explain, and hold firm to Jesus as God and the only way to God the Father.
We saw an example of how to do that with Nadeem Saturday.
- We embrace and clearly communicate our distinctives.
- We trust Jesus’ message to be enough to save.
- We don’t deny our distinctives, but we enjoy them and herald them with gentleness and respect.
- Experience Jesus as the “Way”…(Connection between God and redeemed sinners)
- Take advantage of interacting with the Creator/God/Father/King/Ruler of kings on earth. Jesus has brought us to the Father.
John 16:25-27 (ESV) I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.
When we know/see/interact with and delight in Jesus we do so with God the Father.
- Experience Jesus as the “Truth”…(Complete reliability of Jesus)
- Put yourself in positions to have to know the reliability of Jesus when we obey his commands.
- Learn to view all of life through the lens of the person and work of Jesus.
Matthew 6:19-24 (ESV) 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Matthew 6:25-34 (ESV) 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
- Experience Jesus as the “Life”… (Life is more than mere physical existence)
- Make some decisions that have eternal payoff because you are listening to and obeying Jesus and there may not immediate gain. Watch and experience supernatural life.
- Proverbs 11:24 (ESV) One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
- William Wilberforce dedicated his life to the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, and only on his last day on earth did he see it legislatively abolished.
 F. F. Bruce, “The Gospel According to John,” in The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 569-570.