The “I Am” Series: I am the True Vine

sealwood-vineyard-grapes[1]The seventh “I am” statement recorded in John is in chapter 15. Chapter 15 is a continuation of the Farewell Discourse. In John 15:1, Jesus says, “I am the true vine” and in verse 5, “I am the vine and you are the branches.” The vine and the vineyard were old and sacred images in Judaism. The vine represented the covenant people of God, planted and tended by Him so that Israel would produce fruit (Ps. 80:8-18; Is. 5:1-7; Jer. 2:21).[1] In the Old Testament Israel is depicted as the vine but in John 15 Jesus is the vine; He is the replacement for Israel as He is portrayed as the replacement of the temple and the fulfillment of the Jewish feasts.[2] Jesus embodies and fulfills God’s true intentions for Israel; He is the paradigmatic vine, the channel through whom God’s blessings flow and who bears much fruit.[3] Jesus replaces Israel as the focus of God’s plan of salvation, with the implication that faith in Jesus Christ; a paradigm shift is taking place in which faith in Christ is superseding keeping the Law. Paul writes, Christ is the end of the law” in Romans 10: He is its fulfillment and its replacement.[4]

 

[1] Gary M. Burge, The NIV Application Commentary of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 392.

[2] Andreas J. Kostenberger, Encountering John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1999), 159.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

The “I Am” Series: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life

Question

The sixth “I am” statement recorded in John is in chapter 14. Jesus and His disciples are in the upper room the night before the cross, and Jesus tells them in verse 6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” This is context of the Farewell Discourse that began in chapter 13.[1] This statement is an answer to the question asked by Thomas in verse 5 (“Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”).[2] When Jesus said that He is “the way” looks back to John 10:9 where He says “I am the door;” meaning that there is only a single way to the Father.[3] This shows us the significance of his dying for sinners; He brings us to the Father.[4] “I am the truth” shows more than a piece of teaching but reveal that Jesus is truth embodied.[5] In saying “I am the life,” Jesus is alone whose life is unique, self-existent life of the Father.[6] All truth is God’s truth, as all life is God’s life; but God’s truth and God’s life are incarnate in Jesus.[7]

 

[1] Gary M. Burge, The NIV Application Commentary of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 389.

[2] Elmer Towns, The Gospel of John: Believe and Live. (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), 141.

[3] Leon Morris, Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1989), 118.

[4] Ibid, 119.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Gary M. Burge, The NIV Application Commentary of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 392.

The “I Am” Series: I am the Resurrection and the Life

pen and paperThe fifth “I am” statement recorded in John is in chapter 11. After hearing about the death of Lazarus, Jesus and His disciples travel to Bethany. When He arrives, He meets Martha and in their conversation about the death of Lazarus, Jesus says in verse 25, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Jesus doesn’t simply say that He will give resurrection and life, but that He is resurrection and life.[1] Jesus speaks these words in the context of raising Lazarus from the dead.[2] The “I am” statement in John 11 isn’t teaching about an idea but about a person; about Jesus’ identity and His relationship with His Father.[3] Jesus is shown to have power over death and life; Jesus exceeds our hope and brings a present reality to our victory over death.[4]

 

[1] Ibid.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Gary M. Burge, The NIV Application Commentary of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 325.

[4] Ibis, 326.

The “I Am” Series: I am the Door and the Good Shepherd

good.shepherd1[1]

The third and fourth “I am” statements go together sense both speak about Jesus caring for His sheep. The sheep are those to whom He was speaking to in each event.

The third “I am” statement recorded in John is in chapter 10. In verse 9, Jesus says, “I am the door.” This statement follows the Good Shepherd proverb. It is likely that Jesus had contrasting images of Zechariah 12 in mind as He spoke the proverb.[1] Zechariah 12:10 says,

“. . . the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced.” On one side is the worthless shepherd who deserts his flock and on the other is the shepherd who is stricken for the sake of the sheep, publicly pierced and eliciting great mourning and grief.[2] When Jesus says, “I am the door,” he is saying that He is the only means the sheep enter life; there is only one entrance into a sheepfold so Jesus was using what the people knew. Jesus is saying that He is the only way into life; He alone is the door.[3]

Following on from the conversation about being the door, the fourth “I am” statement is in verse 11 of John 10. Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd.”[4] The idea of Jesus being the ‘good shepherd’ goes with what the prophet Ezekiel says in Ezekiel 34.[5] Ezekiel 34:12-24 says,

“12 As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day. 13 I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries and bring them to their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streams, and in all the inhabited places of the land. 14 I will feed them in a good pasture, and their grazing ground will be on the mountain heights of Israel. There they will lie down on good grazing ground and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest,” declares the Lord God. 16 “I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick; but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with judgment. 17 “As for you, My flock, thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I will judge between one sheep and another, between the rams and the male goats. 18 Is it too slight a thing for you that you should feed in the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pastures? Or that you should drink of the clear waters, that you must foul the rest with your feet? 19 As for My flock, they must eat what you tread down with your feet and drink what you foul with your feet!’”20 Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them, “Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep.

21 Because you push with side and with shoulder, and thrust at all the [t]weak with your horns until you have scattered them abroad, 22 therefore, I will deliver My flock, and they will no longer be a prey; and I will judge between one sheep and another.

23 “Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them; I the Lord have spoken.”

Based on this passage, Jesus has placed Himself squarely in the context of this messianic portrait.[6] God’s people, His flock, have been run astray by irresponsible shepherds, and Jesus will care for them and bring them back.[7] God is called “the Shepherd of Israel” (Ps. 80:1; Ps. 23; Is. 40:10-11), and Jesus identifying Himself as “the Good Shepherd.”[8] The heart of the gospel is concerned with the provision that God has made for the salvation of His sheep and this involves the death of the shepherd.[9]

 

[1] Andreas J. Kostenberger, Encountering John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1999), 122.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Leon Morris, Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1989), 114.

[4] Ibid, 115.

[5] Andreas J. Kostenberger, Encountering John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1999), 123.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Leon Morris, Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1989), 117.

The “I Am” Series: I Am the Light of the World

20170219_Email[1].jpgThe second “I am” statement recorded in John is in chapter 8. Jesus says in verse 12, “I am the light of the world.” The setting of this “I am” statement is the Feast of the Tabernacles. In addition to the water ceremonies at the Feast of Tabernacles, there was a light ceremony; Zechariah 14 sets the theological context for both ceremonies.[1] Zechariah 14: 7 says, “For it will be a unique day which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but it will come about that at evening time there will be light.” Light is a natural figure of speech for what is good and upright and it is often found in contrast with darkness; John makes this contrast from time to time.[2] The Feast of Tabernacles had just concluded so the idea of the lighting ceremony was fresh on people’s minds. Jesus was saying that He is what the light symbolized; He is the pillar of fire and cloud that lead Israel in the wilderness. Jesus is the only light and that people must respond to Him; people’s eternal destiny depends on their reaction to Him.[3] The symbolism in the rituals and ceremonies of the Old Testament all point to Jesus Christ.

 

[1] Gary M. Burge, The NIV Application Commentary of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 255.

[2] Leon Morris, Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1989), 112.

[3] Ibid, 113.

The “I Am” Series: I Am the Bread of Life

BlogIAMBreadofLife-1024x482[1]The first “I am” statement is recorded in John 6. In the discourse that followed the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus tells the people, “I am the bread of life” (6:35).[1] In the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus supplied people’s physical needs and in his discourse He was showing that He is much more.[2] After the miracle of the feeding, the crowd was asking Jesus to duplicate the miracle of Moses in providing bread (or manna) from heaven.[3] The crowd misunderstood that it wasn’t Moses who gave them manna but it was God; Moses told the people this in Deuteronomy 8:16 (In the wilderness He [God] fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end.). There is a difference between the manna that God gave Israel in the wilderness and Jesus; the manna brought nourishment, but failed to give life and Jesus is the bread of everlasting life.[4] Only Jesus can supply what we need.

 

[1] Leon Morris, Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1989), 109.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Elmer Towns, The Gospel of John: Believe and Live. (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), 63.

[4] Ibid.

The “I Am” Series: The Introduction

Bible

I’m starting a new series on the I Am statements Jesus makes in the gospel of John. The series will be made of up of 9 parts. Each post will be shorter in length; 350 to 400 words. Like all Biblical truths, the “I Am” statements are full of nuggets of golden goodness. The posts will be shorter to not overwhelm anyone who may be new to the Christian faith or anyone who is just checking out Who Jesus truly is.

John’s purpose for writing his gospel was to present Jesus as God by showing His Deity. John 20:30-31 says, “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” From the beginning of the gospel, Jesus exercised His power as God. He exercised His omniscient mind upon meeting Nathanael; John 1:47-48 says, “Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”’[1] John is the only gospel author who records the “I am” statements of Christ. There are a total of eight “I am” statements in John; seven times “I am” is attached to a metaphor and the eighth claim Christ makes an even greater statement about Himself.[2] The “I am” expression had a connotation for the Jews; in the Old Testament, Jehovah revealed His name to Moses as “I am” in Exodus 3:14 (God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”).[3] The Jews in Christ’s time knew that when He said, “I am,” He was claiming to be Jehovah the self-existing One.[4] Each time Jesus made the statement, “I am,” He was claiming Deity.

 

[1] Gregory A. Boyd and Paul R. Eddy, Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1999), 114.

[2] Elmer Towns, The Gospel of John: Believe and Live. (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), xiv.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.