Today I helped lead a church service at an assisted living facility. The Scripture readings were: Exodus 3:1-14; Psalm 105:1-4; and each of the “I AM” statements of Jesus from throughout the book of John. Below is the manuscript of my message. Jesus, the great I AM. When I see how the audio turned out, I will add it. AUDIO HERE.
This morning you likely recognized the passage from Exodus about Moses and the burning bush. Much could be said about this incident, but I want to focus on the end – where God reveals his name. God told Moses that his name is: I AM. It is related to the Hebrew word “to be.” It refers to God’s eternal self-existence. God always has been and always will be.
Some churches sing the Gloria Patri, which says: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, it is now, and ever shall be. World without end. Amen.” We worship the triune God, the 3 in 1, the Trinity.
And in the New Testament, God the Son – that is Jesus – stepped into our world to live a human life. Jesus was there in the burning bush, and then become one of us when he was born to Mary in Bethlehem. It is the #1 miracle of the Bible. The Creator became a creature, in order to die on the cross for the sin of the world. That is an astonishing truth.
Jesus proclaimed himself to be that I AM of the burning bush in Exodus 3. And this morning, I want to look at the seven different I AM statements that Jesus declared about himself – which I read for you several minutes ago. When someone says, “I am …. (fill in the blank)” – they are about to reveal something about themselves. When Jesus says, “I am…” we should pay close attention. He is telling us something important.
- The first I AM is John 6:35 where Jesus said “I am the bread of life.” I want us to say each of these statements about Jesus out loud together. I’ll say it first, and then you say it the second time.
Me first: Jesus is the bread of life. Now you:
Physical bread or food satisfies our hunger. Food is essential to life. We eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Likewise, Jesus is essential to our spiritual life. We are not only a body, but a soul or spirit too. Without Jesus, we will spiritually starve. It is easy to forget about our spiritual life, and get focused on the physical. If our stomach growls, we know we need food. But if our heart or soul growls, we can strangely try to satisfy it with physical things.
But physical things can’t satisfy a spiritual hunger. Jesus came into this world because of humanity’s spiritual need. We are sinners in need of a Savior. We can’t save our self. No matter how good we try to be, we still fall short. And that is precisely why Jesus came for us! Jesus is our bread of life.
- In the next I am Jesus said “I am the light of the world.” Let us again say this together. First me: “Jesus is the light of the world.” Now you:
Consider all the times that God gave light to his people. In Genesis, God said, “Let there be light.” God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, and fire is light. God led the people of Israel in the desert by a pillar of blazing fire. Here in John, Jesus proclaims himself the light of the world.
Note that Moses saw the burning bush in the desert where the sun shines brightly, yet God still appeared as a light. So God’s light is a different category of light.
Light serves different functions…it helps us see and it reveals things. Without light we can stumble and fall, or lose our way. And Jesus is the light of the world. Apart from Him, there is no guidance along the way of life, no knowledge as to the real meaning of life.
Without Christ, we are in darkness. Jesus provides spiritual light for anyone who believes in Him and follows Him.
In John 9, Jesus said something a bit surprisingJesus said he came into this world “to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” – Think about that. (pause)
If you think you see, you are actually blind.
You must realize you are blind in order to truly see.
We can become self-sufficient and self-focused on the path of life. WE are the center of our life. We end up in a cloud or a fog but don’t realize it. We think we see, but we are really blind. To come out of this cloud, we must realize our need of Jesus.
When we acknowledge our sinfulness, and stop trusting in our self and transfer our trust to Jesus – then we no longer walk in darkness but have the light of life. Because we realized we were blind, we finally see!
- In the third I am, Jesus says twice that he is the gate. “I am the gate for the sheep…I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” First I’ll say it: “Jesus is the gate.” Now you:
- And the next I am is just a couple verses forward in that same passage. Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” First I’ll say it: “Jesus is the good shepherd.” Now you:
I am going to talk about these two I am statements together. A gate or a door allows you entry. And someone guarding an entry may be intimidating. Our way can be blocked or hindered by a guard and a shut door.
But the very good news is that Jesus is the actual gate or door, and Jesus is also the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep.
Jesus died on the cross for the sin of the world, and he desires all people to be saved. Jesus loves each and every one of us. The door to salvation is wide open. But that does not mean that all people will be saved.
While it is true that Jesus, the good shepherd, died for all — it is only those who actually receive Him by a definite act of faith who become one of his sheep. Jesus is loving and merciful, but he will not force us through the door. We must believe. We must turn from our sin. Jesus is the gate, and whoever enters through him will be saved.
Have you walked through this door of salvation? Is Jesus your shepherd? If you are not sure, please talk to me after the service.
When we are saved, we enter into green pastures and abundant life. We can say with David in Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd.” God is guiding you, keeping watch over you, caring for you.
- In the next I am, Jesus says “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”
I will begin: “Jesus is the resurrection and the life.” Now you:
A dead savior would not be a Savior. If Jesus was an ordinary man, he would have stayed dead. But Jesus was not an ordinary man. Jesus was the unique God-man, the I AM of the burning bush. Death could not hold Jesus in the grave because he is God. The Creator and author of life has mastery over death itself.
And there is hope here for us too. Jesus is our living hope. Because he was resurrected, we will be resurrected too. The verse says that those who believe in Jesus, even though they die, will live again.
When we die, it ushers our soul into the presence of our Savior. We will be in heaven, at peace, but waiting for the Second Coming of Jesus. On that future day our bodies will be reunited with our souls. Some churches say the Apostles Creed, and the end of that creed says: “I believe in the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.”
We shall live again, with glorious bodies – not these old, worn out ones. We will live on the new heaven and new earth for all eternity, and God will dwell there with us.
- In the next I am, Jesus says: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
I’ll say it: “Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.” Now you:
Note it says that Jesus is THE way, not a way. And Jesus is THE truth, not a truth.
Some people say that it does not matter what you believe, as long as you are sincere. But you can be sincerely wrong. Placing your faith in something false could prove hazardous and dangerous. In fact, at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus said:
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
Some people say all religions or spiritual roads lead to God, but that is simply not what Jesus taught us. Jesus is not just one way of many ways. Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Jesus is the only road that leads to life. And Jesus does not simply show us the way, he is the way. Or salvation is in a person. Christianity is Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life.
- Finally, we reach the last I am statement. Jesus said “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
I’ll begin: “Jesus is the vine.” Now you:
To remain in something, means to stay where you are. Sometimes staying where you are is a bad thing. There are times we need to move and do something. But as Christians, we need to stay close to Jesus.
If you cut a branch off from its vine or trunk, the branch will not survive because it has lost its source of life. Jesus himself is the vine or trunk, and we as Christian believers are the branches.
Sometimes we pray “Lord, help me live my life for you.”
But it might be better to pray “Lord, live out your life through me.”
Do you see the difference there?
It is not about the branch living for the vine,
but letting the life of the vine flow out through the branches.
Spiritual life courses through Jesus. Remember He is the life. As Christian believers, we are connected to Jesus, so his spiritual life flows through us. That’s amazing, isn’t it? The apostle Paul says “Christ in us, the hope of glory.”
We need to stay close to Jesus through prayer, Bible reading or hearing the Bible read to us, and attending church services. Doing such things does not make us a Christian. We are Christians because we have placed our faith in Christ. But doing such things helps us stay close to Jesus, and enables us to bear spiritual fruit. He is the vine, and we are the branches.
In closing, we are from the Methodist church, and there was a Methodist missionary named E. Stanley Jones in the early 20th century. In 1938, Time magazine identified him as “the world’s greatest missionary evangelist.” Jones liked to emphasize that: “Christianity is Christ.” He also said something that I thought summarized the 7 I AM statements that we considered this morning. Jones said: “if Jesus is not the answer, there is no answer.”
Is Jesus the bread of your life? Do you live by his light?
Have you entered by faith through the gate of salvation?
Is Jesus the truth by which you live?
Is Jesus, through the power of his Resurrection, your living hope?
Through Jesus we have strength for today, even when the days are tough, and bright hope for tomorrow. Remember, even if we die, we shall live. We have hope beyond the grave because Jesus conquered death for us.