Over the next several Mondays, the contributing writers at Of Larks will be sharing a series on Jesus' I AM statements in the book of John; this is the introductory post to the new series.
It’s been possible for me, and maybe for you too, to lose sight of the full picture of worshiping Jesus Christ for who He is as God when studying the Bible because I limit my search of the Scriptures to finding what God gives and provides, rather than looking to learn about the Giver and Provider. The I AM statements of Jesus throughout the book of John can be especially made into personal placations for the soul—receiving them, yet not in worship of the God who gives.
What I Cannot Do
Reading Scripture makes us feel satisfied, full, and sustained. And we all as believers come to Him for comfort, help, and ever-present strength, opening ourselves and bringing our hearts’ requests. We do, for He alone is God and can generate magnificent helps for us in love. And He has created us such that giving us help through His Word, as well as His ear and providential aid, honors His Name.
Yet, Jesus communicated to the woman at the well in John 4 that she could not have living water until she knew Him. Her interactions with Jesus exemplify that who He is, is principle. If she would know whom she was speaking with, she would have understanding (John 4:10). She says that she is awaiting the Messiah, but she doesn’t see the Messiah is Jesus (John 4:26). Finally she leaves the conversation grappling with the right question—“can this be the Christ?” (John 4:29). Our lives before God are continually resting upon the answer to that single question too, “Is Jesus the Christ?”—and do we base each new day upon believing it? For Jesus affirms we are right to believe—saying, “I am He” (John 4:26).
As our focus is on Christ as God, we see that submission and obedience are fitting. We derive a Spirit-led and -given desire to be taught, instructed, and commanded. Placing ourselves beneath Him incorporates items like adjusting to what we learn in Scripture, feeling godly conviction about sin, and being corrected in areas where we have been wrong. It means wanting to learn what He asks of us, delighting in this attitude while recognizing what we cannot do for ourselves.
- His being the light means we have been in darkness.
- His being the door means that we cannot possibly enter heaven of ourselves.
- His being the bread means we cannot otherwise feed ourselves as we ought.
- His being the shepherd means we are aimless and in grave danger unless under His care.
- His being the true vine means that only in Him, and being pruned for Him, do we have life and purpose.
- His being the resurrection and life means all authority is His—not ours.
- And His being the way, truth, and life, means His teachings exclusively advise our way of life and belief—not personally-generated wisdom or the theories of the world.
The I AM statements of Jesus serve as moments of clarity—communicating that He is distinct from us, and that we are so far from being Him; they lead us to trust Him, this God beyond us.
Worshipfully Reading Scripture
I have had to remember to pray in the Spirit with an open Bible, I am interested in You, Lord—in knowing more of who You are, what You value and emphasize, and what is important to You. As I press into this prayer, I learn to worship Him for more truths of who He is and what He wants me to know, and the leveling and straightening instruction He gives is life from His hand. Every sin is unbelief (Heb. 11:6); so, to be led away from sin is to believe in Him better—my goal. Belief in Him ties me closer with Him in this life so that I can give more glory to Him; and glorifying Him in nearness to Him is the very purpose of who I am. Life.
As with the woman at the well, it all starts with believing in Him for who He is. This is how to understand why the gospel of John was written, as expressed in the gospel writer’s purpose statement:
“But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”
A believing life in Jesus is on-going—and it is a particular kind of life based upon Him alone as God and deserving of our whole lives of worship. In this sense, in each I AM statement, the main feature is the “I AM”—Jesus, the Son of God, our Messiah.
Believing in the Better Exodus
The I AM statements evoke Exodus 3:14—“God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’” The same self-revealing God who gave power and authority to Moses’ exodus, came Himself in flesh to bring a far better liberation than Moses could. Moses led an exodus of Israelite slaves toward the promised land. Yet, Jesus Christ brought a “new exodus”—from sin.
This theme develops throughout the book of John. Whereas Moses, a leader of a physical exodus, turned water into blood, Jesus Christ turned water into wine—a celebratory, life-denoting drink. He gave the best wine at the end of the ceremony, and at the fullness of time the Jews received a better Messiah than they even expected. 
Moses’ final sign was the death of the firstborn throughout Egypt. And Jesus’ final sign in the book of John? He brought life to Lazarus—giving hope for ultimate salvation through being the resurrection and life, the firstborn from among the dead (Col. 1:18). For His death on the cross as the Son of God—in a real sense, the final death for all who believe in Him—means life for us.
The Son of God, Our Messiah
Jesus as Messiah means that He is anointed—specifically in Biblical terms, the anointed One.
Describing Jesus Christ as Messiah in Discovering Romans, S. Lewis Johnson says,
The Messiah’s life is characterized by two stages, the stage of humiliation and the stage of exaltation, and the former gave way to the latter. He who was Son of David according to his physical being was appointed God’s powerful Son according to his spiritual consecration following the resurrection.
From truths of humiliation to exaltation and Son of David to Son of God, God teaches us that who Christ is also equals, by His grace, marvelous realities for us who are in Him. He came as the God-Man, and He triumphed as the God-Man; so what He won, He also won for us. As we learn about Christ, we see that the I AM statements are not loose, generic platitudes that we can have while giving little regard to Him and His lordship. They make us intricately tied to Him in worshipful submission.
- His being our bread of life from heaven means that through the kind of life He gives, we do not hunger, and can expect to never hunger again.
- His being the light of the world means His light shines into human darkness—we are not left to muddle in sin and spiritual death.
- His being the door means that we who have entered through Him are eternally protected and secure—we have the grace of the same peace with the Father Christ has.
- His being our shepherd means that we are brought and kept near through His stunning sacrifice for His own.
- His being the resurrection and the life means we will rise on the last day through His exalted authority—just as certainly as He is already risen.
- His being the way, truth, and life means that right belief in Him is our way of salvation and our way of fullness in life united with God.
- His being the true vine means that we have abundance through Him—and increasingly so through His faithful pruning, correction, instruction, conviction, and commandments, stripping away more and more that blocks our sight of Him on this earth.
As we make our way through a new series at Of Larks on the I AM statements of Jesus Christ, lift your eyes to Him in full belief, worshiping through statements chiefly about Him and the exaltation of His Name. We who confess He is Lord, Master, Messiah, and Son of God are filled with incredible gratitude and life, wanting to know Him as our exalted Lord more and more because we are enraptured by who He is according to what He has taught us to believe about Himself.
“And this is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
Utley, Robert James. Vol. Volume 4, The Beloved Disciple’s Memoirs and Letters: The Gospel of John, I, II, and III John. Study Guide Commentary Series. Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International, 1999.
The “process for distillation was not used in the Near East until the seventh century A.D.,” which indicates that the wine of today is not equivalent to the wine of Bible times. (Deere, Jack S. "Deuteronomy". In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, edited by J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985.)
Smith, Colin. "He Can Be Trusted." February 12, 2017. Accessed February 26, 2017. https://theorchardefc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/02.12.2017-He-can-be-trusted.pdf.
Johnson, S. Lewis; Johnson, S. Lewis (2014-11-25). Discovering Romans: Spiritual Revival for the Soul (pp. 23-24). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.