By Kyle Pope
When the Lord manifested Himself to Moses, the future lawgiver asked God a question—“When I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” (Exod. 3:13, NKJV). In response to this the Lord declared, “‘I AM WHO I AM’. . . Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exod. 3:14). This name declared something profound about the nature of God; He is not one who has been or one who will be. Rather, He simply is—self-existent, eternal, and ever-present.
Jesus in the New Testament declares His own Deity with the same designation. In John 8:58 Jesus declared, “before Abraham was I AM.” There are seven times in the New Testament when Jesus declares more about His nature with the same designation. Consider these passages:
“I Am the Bread of Life”—At least four times in the sixth chapter of the book of John Jesus makes this statement. The first comes in verse 35. Jesus says, “. . . I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” With this Jesus declares His power to sustain human life. What man needs to live is not just material nutrients, but spiritual nutrition. The next comes in verse 41. Jesus declares, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” This shows two things about Jesus: 1.) He was from heaven, 2.) He, like the manna given to the Israelites in the wilderness, was what God has given man to provide for his needs. In the third instance in verse 48, right after declaring this Jesus clearly makes the second point. If only men could realize this truth, how full the Lord’s Kingdom would be and how pleasant this world would be. In a fourth instance, Jesus adds a qualifying adjective. He proclaims, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I give is My flesh I which I shall give for the life of the world” (vs. 51). Unlike the manna that decayed if not gathered, Jesus did not decay even in the face of death. This suggests that the ability of Christ to fill the hunger of the soul is greater than anything material bread provides. Those who ate manna died. Yet, the one who comes to Jesus in faith and obedience, feasting upon His word (see vs. 63), will live forever.
“I Am the Light of the World”—In John 8 Jesus offers another “I Am” declaration. In verse 12 He says, “I Am the Light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” Just as Jesus offers us spiritual food, He also offers spiritual guidance. Man dwells in spiritual darkness desperately in need of light. Jesus through His word gives this light.
“I Am the Good Shepherd”—Frequently in Scripture God’s people are pictured as sheep in need of a Shepherd. The shepherd not only feeds and guides the sheep, but also protects them from the dangers of thieves and wild beasts. In John chapter 10, Jesus asserts Himself as the Shepherd of God’s people. In verse 11 Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” Three verses later He says again, “I am the Good Shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own” (vs. 14). This world has many dangers. There are thieves that would try to take us away from God. There are beasts that would devour us with sin and falsehood. Only by relying upon the Good Shepherd are we safe.
“I Am the Vine”—Jesus declares in John chapter 15, verse 5—“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much Fruit: For without me you can do nothing.” It must have been most tempting to the Jews of the First Century to think of Judaism as the “vine” to which all faith should cling. It is very tempting to religious people today to think that any religious group that calls themselves “Christian” adheres to the vine. Jesus asserts in verses one and two, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.” Verse 6 adds—“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they shall gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” The next verse tells us that abiding in Christ means keeping His word. What must be realized is that if people in this age claim to be in Christ and yet do not keep within the word of God, they are either already “cast out” or run the danger of being cast out unless repentance takes place. They are not clinging to the “true vine.”
“I am the Way”—“I am the Door of the Sheep”—In John chapter 14, Jesus tells His disciples, “I am the way the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (14:6). In the midst of His discussion regarding Himself as the “Good Shepherd” He declared in John 10:7—“Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.” Two verses latter He adds,“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (10:9). These words teach us some very important points. How is it that man may have a home with God the Father? Through Jesus. If we want to be a part of God’s flock, how do we gain access into the flock? Through Jesus. How can we have salvation from sins and eternal life with God? Through Jesus. If only the world would understand this. All roads do not lead to heaven. All faiths are not the same. All saviors are not equally true. Jesus Christ of Nazareth is the only way to salvation in this age.
“I am the Resurrection and the Life”—A final declaration is found in John 11:25. Jesus had come to Bethany where His friend Lazarus lay dead. He was met by Martha, Lazarus’ sister. In anguish she declared to Jesus—“…Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give you” (John 11:21-22). She was absolutely right. That very day God through Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Jesus’ “I Am” declaration came just three verses after Martha’s declaration of her faith in Him. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25-26). More than just being able to raise a man from death only to die again, Jesus is the means to escape the one thing to which all souls are subject—death. In Christ the faithful soul will one day rise from death to live forever with God. What a glorious Savior is Christ the Lord!