The 7 I AM’s in the Gospel of John

The 7 I AM’s in the Gospel of John

The 7 I AM’s in the Gospel of John. 

Seven (7): The Biblical number that represents perfect, complete, whole, finished, fulfilled.

(1.) I AM the Bread of Life (John 6:35);

(2.) I AM the Light of the World (John 8:12);

(3.) I AM the Door (John 10:7);

(4.) I AM the Good Shepherd (John 10:11, 14);

(4.) I AM the True Vine (John 15:1);

(5.) I AM the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25);

(6.) I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).

I AM. Once again, Jesus startles His listeners with His claim to be co-equal to the Great I AM, the sacred Name of Yahweh. Jesus here is staking His claim to divinity, to being a kin to God Himself, the Holy One. Yahweh was the personal Name of God spoken to Moses at the burning bush (Ex. 3:14), and is revered by all faithful Jews and supreme in importance to the Faith. For Jesus to refer to Himself with an abbreviated form of I AM WHAT I AM is nothing short of scandalous. By claiming to be I AM, Jesus doesn’t leave many options… He isn’t merely a Bible scholar, a super prophet, a faith healer, an inspired teacher, an effective exorcist, a miracle worker. Jesus takes all those impressions of Him off the table. He is either a con man, or crazy, or filled with the devil, or in fact equal to Yahweh in the flesh. He reveals Himself to be the I AM around 20 times in the Gospel of John alone, including seven times when He connects the Name to helpful metaphors for a deeper understanding of who He is. With every pronouncement of I AM, Jesus is claiming eternal kinship with God the Father. Jesus wasn’t shy about claiming the Name of Yahweh as His own.

Expanding the Name. When the LORD told Moses His Name of Yahweh, He left a lot to the imagination. I AM WHO I AM. I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE. I AM HE WHO EXISTS. Any person who is naturally curious would follow that up with… I AM, what, exactly? That’s quite a mysterious and elusive Name. And then Jesus comes along to help fill in some of the blanks by offering seven homespun metaphors in John. I AM the Bread of Life (6:35) who nourishes your spirit with solid, spiritual food; I AM the Light of the World (8:12) who enables you to shine in purity, goodness and truth. I AM the Door (10:7) to the sheep pen who will welcome you to the flock of God and protect you in His care; I AM the True Vine (15:1) who will provide what is needed to flourish and bear good fruit in your life; I AM the Resurrection and the Life (11:25) who will enliven your spirit now and raise you from the dead into eternal life; I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life (14:6) who will guide you and provide the way to truth and abundant life. After these plain-spoken pictures that served as parables, people couldn’t complain about the lack of clarity about the Great I AM. Jesus helped to clarify a few things through these seven metaphors about the nature of the LORD, His identity and His mission.