Ever wondered, “who is Jesus ?” John provides us clues to discover a fuller picture of Jesus. He demonstrates Jesus’ unique identity through seven ‘I Am’ sayings.
I Am the Bread of Life (John 6:35)
I Am the Light of the world (John 8:12 & 9:5)
I Am the Door (John 10:7)
I Am the Good Shepherd (John 10:11,14)
I Am the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25)
I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6)
I Am the True Vine (John 15:1)
John’s use of “I Am” sayings is immensely imaginative, creative, and clear. They are a powerful reminder of His Deity and Salvific identity.
The Divine identity of Jesus
The use of first-person personal pronouns is common in any language. However, in Greek, the use of an additional personal pronoun is an added feature and not an essential one.
God identified himself as “I Am” (YHWH) in Exo 3:14. The Septuagint LXX ( the Greek translation of the Old Testament) renders “ἐγώ εἰμι” (I Am) to translate Yahweh (Exo 3:14-15; 41:4; 43:10-13, 25; 45:18; 51:12; 52:6; and Isa 40:66). Interestingly, the phrase “I Am” alludes to YHWH, the name of God in the Old Testament. Most readers who were familiar with the Septuagint would have made the connection.
Why would John use “ἐγώ εἰμι” (I Am)? Simple. Apostle John presents Jesus as the Son of God in his Gospel. By using these ‘I Ams’, Apostle John points to Jesus’ divine identity.
The Salvific identity of Jesus
Moreover, the divine Jesus was the way to eternal life in John’s Gospel. In fact, most of these “I Am” sayings attest to this fact. Jesus is the bread of life and therefore, the one who believes in Him “will never thirst” (John 6:35). As Jesus is the Light of the world the one who follows Him will not walk in the darkness but “will have the Light of life” (John 8:12).
Further, the images of door, way, and good shepherd reinforce the salvific identity of Jesus. Door (John 10:7) and Way (John14:6) point to Jesus as the way to salvation. In John 10:9, Jesus says, “if anyone enters through me, he will be saved.” Moreover, the good shepherd leads the sheep to salvation, even by laying down his life (10:11-18).
Combining both the divine and salvific identities of Jesus, John declares that Jesus is the only means of salvation for the whole world (John 8:12). Further, only by believing in this Divine Jesus one could attain salvation (John 20:31). So, John uses the ‘I Am’ sayings to underline the divinity of Jesus Christ. In short, Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Dr. Bennet Aren Lawrence is serving as the Assistant Regional Secretary of the Asia Theological Association, India.
For Other Articles by Dr Bennet
Jesus’ Triumphal Entry – Lessons for Today