by John F. Klem
In our Advent readings I have attempted to saturate you with Biblical texts featuring the person and work of Jesus Christ. In this reading I will direct your attention to the seven “I am” statements of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John.
Jesus declares of Himself, “I am the bread of life” (6:35), “I am the light of the world” (8:12), “I am the door of the sheep” (10:7, 9), “I am the good shepherd” (10:11), “I am the resurrection and the life” (11:25), “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (14:6), and “I am the true vine” (15:1, 5). A possible eighth statement is located in John 18:5. In the midst of betrayal, Christ makes the powerful announcement, “I am He”!
What is it about the “I am” statements that serve the affections of our hearts in this Advent season? First, the “I am” statements tell the gospel story of the prophesied Messiah. Each proclamation unfolds the good news of everlasting life in the most comprehensive way. Jesus is the bread of life Who gives life, He is the true vine Who sustains life, and He is the resurrection and the life Who guarantees life beyond the grave.
Second, the “I am” statements are set in contexts exposing the darkness of sin and warning of the consequences of pursuing life apart from Christ. Jesus tells the Tiberians that they selfishly followed Him to satisfy their hunger. When dealing with the woman caught in adultery, He demonstrates that the leaders of the day do not see their own sin. In the raising of Lazarus, He demonstrates to Mary and Martha that He alone has defeated death with resurrection life. In the vine and branches account, He warns those who will not remain in Him.
Third, the “I am” statements proclaim that Christ is the sovereign Lord of life. No one can access or earn eternal life apart from Christ. He is the light Who exposes the darkness of sin. He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). He is the door of the sheep and the good shepherd Who owns the sheep and protects them from hirelings (John 10). In this good shepherd context, Jesus makes the strongest statements of exclusivity. He pronounces that He gives His life for the sheep, He lays it down for the sheep, and He is in absolute control of laying it down in death and taking it up in resurrection life.
On the other side of this observation are the frequent explanations that Christ must be received by faith. Jesus tells people that if they come to Him and believe, they will not hunger or thirst, that those who follow Him will not walk in darkness, that anyone who enters by Him will be saved, and that the one who believes will never die.
Finally, the “I am” statements are Jesus’ credentials that He is one with the Father. He works, speaks, and acts in concert with the Father. He is not a mere human with exceptional ability. According to John 18:5, “I am He!”
The “I am” statements are the gospel story of the Christ Child born into the humble setting of a Bethlehem manger. The whole story needs to be understood, cherished, and proclaimed. I trust that the Lord will grant us many creative ways to do so this Advent season.
John F. Klem is director of Regular Baptist Press.
Regular Baptist Press is committed to providing educational resources that point people of all ages to Christ not just at Christmas, but throughout the year. RBP offers a wide range of curriculum, VBS programs, Bible studies, books, and training seminars that are Biblically sound, cover the entirety of Scripture, and designed for spiritual growth.
- Read the entire series of Advent meditations.