“I Am” –Lesson One
In John 12 we read where certain Greeks came to Philip, a disciple of Jesus, and expressed their desire, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” We assume that you who read have a similar desire. The greatest need in our world, whether realized or not, is for men, women, boys, and girls to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The two lessons entitled “I Am” are intended to help us who desire to see Him as He is and to know Him better. His way is the untried and rejected, yet the certain and sure way of life.
In Jesus' debate with the Jews recorded in John 8, the Jews relied heavily on their fleshly descendancy from Abraham as proof and evidence of their acceptance by Jehovah God. Jesus sorely rebuked them for not acting like children of Abraham. Verses 39,40, “If ye were Abraham's children, ye would dothe works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.”In verse 44 He accused them of being of their father, the devil, because of the wicked ways in which they lived. Then He further startled them by making the claim of verses 56-58.
"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you. Before Abraham was I am.”
His claim is clear. Even though He was not yet fifty years old in the flesh, He existed before Abraham, who had lived nearly two thousand or more years earlier. He makes the claim of being an Eternal One. It is a claim of Deity, an identification of Himself with the phrase used by Moses to Identify God before the Israelite, Exodus 3:14, “I am that I am.”By this claim He asserts to have existed and declares He Is the Divine One. His pre-incarnate state is clearly affirmed by His own words. Such an affirmation is in harmony with such passages concerning Him as John 1:1-4 and Hebrews 1:1-3.
This is one of the eight times recorded that Jesus used the phrase, “I am.” This is the only time by which He declares His eternal existence as the Divine One. The other seven instances Involve metaphors and allegories, comparisons, instances where He presents Himself in terms and Images of something else readily understood. He used figurative language. By doing so, Jesus greatly simplified Himself, made Himself, His nature, His mission, and His relationship to His disciples more easily grasped. Our study shall center on these eight occasions, four in the first lesson, and the last four in lesson two.
We have already noted the first instance when He teaches His Deity. Also, in John 6, on the day following the miracle of feeding the five thousand with five loaves and two fishes, the multitudes came to Him again. They came not so much from belief in Him, but to obtain more food, as evidenced by Jesus' words in John 6:26. Their motive was more for the material than the spiritual benefit. This sounds much like those today who seek Jesus for material gain, following the distorted appeal of some religious teachers that Jesus will make you rich, give you a better house, a new car, a better job, etc. Jesus used the occasion to admonish how men ought not work primarily for just the physical nourishment, but rather for that food which was unto eternal life. He was teaching priorities. John 6:27, “Labor not for the meat which perlsheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for Him hath God the Father sealed.”
He had taught, Matthew 4:4, "It Is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
Recalling the time when Israel was sustained In the wilderness by the manna that God provided, Jesus said, verses 32-35, "Verily Isay unto you, Mosesgave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger: and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”
Again in verses 48-51,“I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. Iam the living bread which came down from heaven, if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
Jesus is teaching that man must have the proper spiritual food to have spiritual life. This food comes from the Father. This bread is a "He,” a person, (verse 33), which is Christ.
He declares that He is from heaven; He came from the Father; He is the bread that imparts eternal life; He is the true bread in contrast to the manna the Israelites had in the wilderness. Jesus is the living bread that provides life. All who would obtain this life must come to Him. That which He offered; namely, Himself, is that upon which we must feed our spirits.
Light Of The World
In John 8: 12 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” A similar statement is recorded In John 9:5 and 12:46. The word “light” Is often used In Scripture In contrast to darkness, showing the contrast between righteousness and unrighteousness. First Peter 2:9, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people: that ye should show for the praises of him Who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. ”Colossians 1: 13, Paul reminds his brethren that they had been delivered out of darkness. First John 1:7, "But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.”John the Baptist called Jesus the light (John 1:7-9). God sent the light because the deeds of men were evil and that light is Christ.
From these passages we see that people are in the darkness of sin, sometimes loving darkness more than light (John 3:19). Christ illuminates. When Christ is the ruler of our hearts and lives the darkness of sin is driven from us. To be illuminated we must obey His will and follow His directions. The result will be eternal life.
It is noteworthy that John 9:5 says, “As long as Iam in the world, I am the light of the world.” Christ has been driven out of the hearts and lives of many. Yet, He is the one that lights the way to heaven through this sojourn on earth. Alongside this Jesus said to His disciples, Matthew 5:14, "Ye are the light of the world.” We are lights in the sense that we reflect the light of Christ in our lives. Matthew 5: 16 urges we let our lights shine that God may be glorified. Galatians 2:20, we are to let Christ live in us. Ephesians 5:8, written to Christians, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.”
Door Of The Sheepfold
In John 10 Jesus twice uses the phrase, “I am,” in teaching the parables relating to the sheep and sheepfold. We shall consider one of them now and the second in the next lesson. Prior reading of John 1:10 are needful to understand the metaphors and illustrations Jesus uses.
Jesus said, “I am the door of the sheep.” Here He asserts His authority by claiming to be the entrance into the sheepfold through which the sheep must pass into safety and security. Obviously, this is a figurative use of the term.
In chapter nine we read of the man born blind who receives his sight at the Lord's hand, and he became a believer. Jesus' enemies sought to negate this miracle. They had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Christ must be expelled from the fellowship of the synagogue (9:22). Therefore, this man was cast out. By declaring Himself as the door, Jesus shows how the Jews had assumed authority to which they had no right. Actually Jesus Is the passageway to the favor of God and the Jews could not presume to admit or exclude anyone. Nor can anyone do so today except by the authority of the Word of God. Jesus further stated, verse 9, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall not go in and out, and find pasture.”The same sentiment is expressed in John 14:6.
There are several important points we must gain from all of this. Jesus Is the sole avenue to God (Acts 4: 12) .You can see what this does to every faith, religion, and church that is not of Christ. Also, through Him there is protection, provision, liberty, and spiritual sustenance because He is the way into the Lord's sheepfold. Others who presume to admit or exclude on any other basis than that of Jesus Christ usurp His authority. The doctrine that there are Christians faithfully serving God In the denominational world is to assert there are other doorways than Christ. There are not many ways to be saved, with each having the right to choose the way he prefers. The door is open to all, but everyone must enter that way or he does not enter.
By these four uses of the phrase, “I am,” we can better understand the nature and mission of Jesus and our relationship to Him as well as the advantages of being in Christ. By and through Him we have life, for He is the bread of life. By and through Him we can live apart from the sinful darkness of the world because he is the light of the world. He has all authority and is the only door through which people can pass to receive the spiritual provisions God offers. All of this is founded on the fact that He is the ever-existing Eternal One, Deity, who took on the form of flesh.