What Did Christ Mean?
By His 8 “I AM” Statements
John 6:35; 8:12, 58; 10:7, 9, 11, 14, 25, 26; 14:6; 15:1, 5
Jesus the Christ (Gk. Christos: the Anointed One, the Messiah), the Son of God (i.e., God manifested in the flesh), made a number of exceedingly significant statements during His ministry prior to being crucified on Calvary.
Among His various statements, He made eight statements in which He referred to Himself with the words “I am,” seven of which were analogies and processes, in which He declared Himself as “the bread,” “the light,” “the door of the sheep,” “the good shepherd,” “the resurrection and the life,” “the way, the truth, and the life,” and “the true vine.” But the one most significant “I AM” statement by Christ is that which He stated in John 8:58, which will be addressed first.
Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”
The reason this “I AM” statement by Christ is most significant is that aside from describing Himself analogically throughout the book of John, here He is declaring that He is the Living God, the Creator. For a more complete understanding of this declaration by Christ, click on the following link: http://bibleone.net/WDCM-06.htm.
The Bread of Life
And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)
To Israelites, bread was a primary nutritional substance, an important portion of their diet, a foundational element to their health. In Exodus (Chapter 16) when the Israelites, who were being delivered by God from their bondage in Egypt, came to the “Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai” and began to complain to Moses and Aaron saying “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (vss. 1-3), it was bread that God initially rained from heaven to satisfy their hunger (vs. 4).
When the people who were following Christ and who were fed by Him upon “the mountain” (John 6:3) as He miraculously produced an abundance of food from “five barley loaves and two small fish” (vs. 9), crossed over the sea to Capernaum and inquired of Him as to when He had crossed over, Christ said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life” (vss. 26b, 27a).
But the people continued to ask Christ to perform a “sign,” stating that “Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat’” (vs. 31). To this Christ noted that it wasn’t Moses, but God who provided the bread from heaven. And it was with this historical event in view that Christ declared “For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (vs. 33), which led the people to say, “Lord, give us this bread always” (vs. 34).
Within this context Christ declares to the people that He is “the bread of life,” which meant that He alone could meet their spiritual-nutritional need, i.e., those who would come in faith to Him would find their spiritual hunger and thirst totally satisfied.
This would be just as the Israelites who came to and followed Him out of Egypt, for it is written of them that they “all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:3).
Applicable passages of Scripture to this concept of Christ are as follows: John 6:30-35, 49-51, 58; Exodus 16:4, 15; Numbers 11:8; Nehemiah 9:15; Psalm 78:24; 105:40.
The Light of the World
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
The benefits of “light” to man are found in illumination of one’s surroundings and that which illumination provides, i.e., a revelation of one’s surroundings and a correct course of direction for travel. Physical life is dependent upon physical light. Without sunlight the earth would certainly change drastically. A forest full of trees with very thick canopies of foliage high above has very little plant life on the ground. Plants, which are said to be phototropic, will always turn toward light. Without physical light man can never find direction or achieve control of his physical surroundings. Without physical light man’s physical exercise and development are greatly reduced. In a nut shell, without light, man simply cannot experience sight.
Christ’s analogy in which He declared that He was the “light of the world,” suggests spiritual parallels to what physical light provides man in the physical realm. As the one and only spiritual light of the entire world, a faith-based acceptance and understanding of Jesus Christ, the Word of God, provides the following to mankind:
1) An illumination (understanding) of the spiritual realm in which man exists.
2) A spiritual path that man may take in order to properly circumnavigate this spiritual realm.
3) An opportunity to spiritually grow and develop within this life, which will not only provide proper control in this life but will have great reward in the next.
But without physical light, man may only exist in darkness, a place that severely limits his ability for motion, control, and development. And the same would be true in the spiritual realm. Without Jesus Christ, a person can only be blind to all of which God through His love and grace has provided for him, a condition that can affect both the one who has never come to Christ in faith and the one who through faith in Christ is a Christian.
The person who has never believed on Jesus Christ remains spiritually “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), in a love of “darkness” rather than “light” in order to continue in their “evil deeds” (John 3:19; 12:46). The end result of such a person will be an eternity apart from God in the “lake of fire” (John 5:24; Revelation 20:13-15).
The person who has believed on Jesus Christ but continues to remain in his carnal state, i.e., refusing to grow (mature) spiritually by consuming (studying) the Word of God, will face Christ at His Judgment Seat at which time his works during this life will be “burned,” allowing him no part in the “bride of Christ” and no favorable participation in the coming Messianic Era, a period of one thousand years (Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10, 11; Revelation 19:7-9; 20:4ff).
Applicable passages of Scripture to this concept of Christ are as follows: 2 Samuel 23:3, 4; Proverbs 4:18; Matthew 5:14, 16, 45; John 1:4; 3:19; 8:12; 9:5; 12:35, 36, 46;Acts 26:18; 2Corinthians 3:18; 4:6;Ephesians 5:8; Philippians 2:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:5; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 2:9.
The Door of the Sheep
Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. . . . I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:7, 9)
The context of this statement by Christ that He is “the door of the sheep” comprises His involvement with the man whose blind condition was healed by Christ and who was later excommunicated (cast out) by the Pharisees, Israel’s religious leaders, because of the man’s support of Jesus Christ, his affirmation that Christ was “from God” (John 9:13-41).
It was during Christ’s conversation with these Jewish religious leaders that He accused them of being spiritually reprobates because they professed spiritual superiority (vs. 41). Christ went on in chapter 10 to explain that a religious leader who does not enter properly – in accordance with the plan of God (“the door”) – into “the sheepfold” to tend to the sheep, is nothing more than “a thief and a robber” – a reprobate who ministers only for self-interest (vs. 1).
In light of this, Christ went on to clarify that He alone was the “the door” – God’s plan of salvation – that alone can certify that a minister is indeed on firm footing, correctly representing God for the benefit of mankind. Only when a person who claims to be a minister of God enters “by the door” may he be assured that he is “the shepherd of the sheep” (vs. 2), the one whose voice the sheep will hear and who they will rightly follow (vss. 3-5).
And Christ went on (vss. 7ff) to expand on the analogy to explain that He was not only “the door” by which any minister of God must enter, but that it was through Him that all sheep must enter to be “saved . . . and find pasture [nourishment]” (vs. 9). Furthermore, He declared that He alone is “the Good Shepherd” who “gives His life for the sheep” (vss. 11, 17, 18).
In summation, in these two chapters of the book of John, Jesus affirms that God’s plan of redemption for man – Christianity – is wholly (totally) centered in and about Him. Man must never look toward a denomination or any other religious formulation of or by man for personal salvation or spiritual development. The only true source of God is by, in, and through Jesus Christ, the living Word of God who not only was in the beginning with God the Father, but who indeed is God. And the only way man (“the sheep”) can know Him,or a minister who rightly represents Him, is by becoming involved (studying) in the written Word of God.
Applicable passages of Scripture to this concept of Christ are as follows: John 14:6; Acts 14:27; 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3; James 5:9; Revelation 3:8, 20.
The Good Shepherd
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. . . . I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. (John 10:11, 14)
In addition to Christ being “the door” in which valid ministers (shepherds) of the people (sheep) must enter, He now declares that He is the Good Shepherd, the exclusive Minister of God who is the only Authority encompassing God’s redemption plan for man, the salvation of all three of the elements of man – spirit, soul, and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 4:12), the foundation of which rests in His sacrifice on the cross of Calvary.
For a complete understanding of God’s comprehensive redemption plan for man, the reader is advised to access and read the following books by Arlen L. Chitwood, which may be accessed by the website links following each listing:
Salvation by Grace through Faith http://bibleone.net/SGF.htm
Salvation of the Soul http://bibleone.net/SOS.htm
Applicable passages of Scripture to this concept of Christ are as follows: Isaiah 40:11; Ezekiel 34:12, 23; 37:24; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25; 5:4.
The Resurrection and the Life
Jesus said to her, “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. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25, 26)
Upon hearing that His dear friend Lazarus was sick, Christ “stayed
two more days in the place where He was” (vs. 5, 6).
After Lazarus died, Jesus traveled to Bethany, Lazarus’s home.
Outside Bethany, Lazarus’s sister Martha went out to meet Jesus. “If
you had been here,” she said, “my brother would not have died.”
Such was her faith in Jesus’ power to heal. Jesus replied by
assuring Martha that her brother would rise again. Martha responded
again in faith: “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at
the last day.” At this point, Christ stated, “I am the
resurrection and the life,” and He follows it with a call to
faith: “He who believes in me will live, even though he
dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die”
Applicable passages of Scripture to this concept of Christ are as follows: John 1:4; 3:15, 16, 36; 5:21; 6:39, 40, 47, 54; 10:28; 14:6; Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 4:14; Colossians 2:12; 3:4; Philippians 3:21; 1 John 1:1, 2; 3:2; 5:10-12.
The Way, the Truth, and the Life
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
Much of what Christ meant in this most prominent declaration by Christ is covered in previous commentary in this article and in the following posting, http://bibleone.net/WDCM-13.htm. Jesus Christ is indeed the only way to true (proper, satisfying) life, both during one’s tenure on earth and throughout eternity.
Scripture clearly indicates that true Christianity is totally centered in Jesus Christ, from beginning to an absence of end. It is unfortunate that much of what is considered the Christian religion throughout history, and especially today, is centered on man – procedures, ornate structures, and emotionalism. When Christians should be studying the Word under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, they instead give attention to ceremony and procedures formulated and promoted by various denominations led by man, often praising others (both earthly and heavenly) and various rituals, rather than “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
Of all the “I AM” proclamations of Christ, second only to one other, this one is most significant. By it, Christ is clearly stating that He alone is the only pathway for man to return to his Creator. No other person or belief system (religion) can qualify in this regard. The entire matter is centered in Jesus Christ. And the one “I AM” declaration made by Christ that makes this one the utmost truth, is the one by which He asserts that He is in fact the “I AM” – the Living God, the Creator (John 8:58).
The True Vine
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. . . . 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. (John 15:1, 5)
This metaphorical account of the ideal relationship between Christ and Christians in the 15thchapter (vss. 1-8) of the book of John is frequently misunderstood by Bible commentators as including both “true” Christians and “untrue” Christians, i.e., those who claim to be such but who have never placed their trust in Christ – a “professing Christian.”
A careful study of Scripture reveals that there are actually only two classifications of individuals as they are related to Christ – believers and unbelievers. The classification “professing Christian” is an invention of man, a product emanating from the fabricated concept (belief) that one who has been “saved” can subsequently lose his “salvation.” This delusion of God’s comprehensive redemption plan for mankindhas arisen from an incorrect understanding of both (1) the sacrifice made by Christ on Calvary and (2) the various seemingly contradictory passages of Scripture relating to the salvation of man.
(The grace-gift of God – eternal salvation – is based solely on the “work” of Jesus Christ, which was “finished” on the cross (John 19:30) and is completely apart from human merit. Nothing which man has done, is presently doing, or will ever do can have anything to do with his eternal destiny. Man can may only receive by faith that which has already been done on his behalf. To believe otherwise is to diminish, minimize, and destroy that which Christ has done on the cross for mankind.
Furthermore, salvation in Scripture addresses the tripartite composition of man [1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 4:12], a salvation that conveys past, present, and future facets of God’s total redemption program. And when one endeavors to assign all passages regarding the salvation of man to only one aspect of God’s salvation plan, confusion will surely follow.
The reader is strongly advised to read Salvation of the Soul by Arlen L. Chitwood, which may be accessed at the link http://bibleone.net/SOS.htm in order to properly understand God’s full plan of salvation for man, which will not only establish the full significance of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross of Calvary but will also clarify the “apparent” contradictions of various salvation passages in the Word of God.)
In His horticultural metaphor (vss. 1-8) Christ delivers a dual message, one to Israel and the other to Christians. In Psalm 80 and Isaiah 5, Scripture declares that Israel is the vine and that God is the vinedresser. In this regard when Jesus says “I am the true vine” He is stating that He is “the true Israel,” the embodiment of all that Israel should be. Yet, Israel did not faithfully execute her mission as God’s representative. Her sins and non-repentance nature prevented her from being a faithful witness. But Jesus is not like that. He is the true Israel, and He faithfully executes all of God’s purposes.
When Christ referred to Himself as “the true vine” in John 15, He was speaking only to His disciples who remained with Him after Judas Iscariot had departed from the group (John 13:1-30), all Christians in the truest sense of the word. And using metaphorical language He conveyed the following critical lessons pertaining to Christians and their service to God:
1) Christ alone is the authorized source from which Christians may obtain the necessary ingredients (character, strength, support) for Christian service, i.e., the bearing of righteous fruit (works) – “for without Me you can do nothing” (vs. 5b).
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
Being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:11)
2) The Christian’s responsibility in the production of fruit (good works) is to “abide (Gk. meno – to stay, remain, continue, endure) in Christ.” Here Christ is not speaking of the union between God and man at the time of salvation when he becomes a “new creation” and is “reconciled” to God (2 Corinthians 5:17, 18) by the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13, 14; 4:30; James 4:5).Christians are “already clean” (vs. 3), but to bear fruit they must “abide” (stay in close and continual fellowship) with their Savior.
To “abide in Christ” a Christian must achieve a state of spiritual maturity, a process that rests upon two key concepts, as follows:
a) A diet of “solid food” – the study of the Word under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 15:13, 14), which leads to the “salvation of the soul” (1 Corinthians 3:1, 2; James 1:21).
b) The exercise of faith (believing, taking God at His Word), the only process or exercise that will insure a proper “walk [abiding] in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:7; Ephesians 3:16, 17; Colossians 2:6; Hebrews 11).
3) Although a Christian will never lose eternal salvation, he may exercise his “free will” (the key feature of the “image” of God in which man was created) to turn from Christ, i.e., refuse to “abide” in Him, and thereby exist in a spiritually immature state, which will insure not only painful consequences in this age (vs. 6)but will also result in loss at the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11-15) and the age to come – the thousand year kingdom age of Christ upon the earth that will follow the seven years of tribulation over the earth.
The state of “abiding in Christ” is the result of being “filled with the Spirit,” which is the equivalent of allowing “the Word of Christ [to] dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (Ephesians 5:18-20; Colossians 3:16). A Christian residing in this degree of spiritual maturity will not “grieve” (Ephesians 4:30) or “quench” (1 Thessalonians 5:19) the Spirit, but instead will bear righteous fruit for the glory of God.
The correct path is clear, “abide” in Christ – study the Word, exercising faith in all that you do, and God who is the “vinedresser” will “prune” you for even “more fruit” (vss. 1, 2), a process that will insure favorable recognition at the Judgment Seat of Christ, a position in the Bride of Christ, and participation alongside Christ during the coming Kingdom Age – the Messianic Era.