I AM in John

I AM in John

The purpose of this post is to explore the times when Jesus uses “I am” in the Book of John.  I think this adds to John’s purpose of proving that Jesus is the Messiah.  There are some loose groupings of how/when Jesus used the term.  I will not try and list all of the verses but will leave that up to you and a concordance or a Bible app like BibleGateway. 

We use the phrase “I am” in our speech with other people frequently.  In Exodus 3:14 the Almighty God choose this phase as the name He wanted Moses and the Israelites to know Him by.  As with many translations, our English thoughts and ancient Hebrew usage can yield slightly different meanings.  (see I AM – Exodus) But think about it the next time you introduce yourself to someone or announce that you are going somewhere.

To non-Jews    Jesus used this phrase when He was talking to the Samaritan Woman and to Pilate.  These were at the beginning and end of His earthly ministry.  Jesus affirmed to the Woman that He was the Messiah and to Pilate that He was a King – John 4:26/18:37.  

What Jesus Said About Himself This is the reason I started thinking about this post.  I know there are other sources that will only list seven of these.  (Seldom am I in perfect harmony with them.)  Remember, this is just from the Gospel of John.  They will be out of order.

  1. 8:58 – before Abraham was born, I am (NIV).  The 8th chapter of John has eleven times when Jesus uses “I am”.  This is the only time that Jesus actually declares He is God.  This was done at the end of a long conversation with the Jews in the Temple.  They were going to stone Him and He “slipped away”.
  2. 4:26 – He told the woman at the well that He was the Messiah.
  3. 18:37 – Pilate He was a King.
  4. 6:35 This was after He fed the 5,000.  He identified as the Bread of Life (manna).
  5. 8:12 In the Temple.  He is the Light of the World.  Jesus says this again in 9:5 as He is healing the man born blind.
  6. 10:7+9 This is with the “man born blind” – Jesus is the Gate for the Sheep.    
  7. 10:11 He is the Good Shepherd.
  8. 10:36 He is God’s Son.
  9. 11: 25 He is the Resurrection and the Life.  This was said as He was raising Lazarus and going to Jerusalem for His final Passover.
  10. 13: 13 Jesus quotes the disciples calling Him Teacher and Lord.  
  11. 15:1+5 He calls Himself the True Vine.  This was in His last meal on Thursday of Holy Week.        
  12. 14: 10,11, and 20 Jesus says He is in the Father.  Even without this one, I am over the seven.

He Is Going Away I count seventeen times Jesus says He is going away.  20:17 is to Mary at the garden tomb.  The other times He says this in private and before a crowd starts in Chapter 7:34 and 8:14+21.  Here He was in the Temple.  The majority of these announcements are during Holy Week and are in chapters 13, 14, 16, and 17.  Jesus told the Disciples but they could not hear these as a prophecy.  He told them plainly in 12:36 that He was to be “lifted up”. 

The Mob 18:5,6, and 8 takes place in the Garden with Judas and the mob.  They are looking for Jesus of Nazareth and He answers with “I am He”.  My post the Root, Branch, Fruit deals with the prophecy you “cannot find” in Matthew 2:23.  The key is the word netzer which means branch and is the root for Nazareth.

Great Commission – John’s Style 20:21 has Jesus telling the Disciples “I am sending you”.  Jesus compares His order to what the Father did with Him.  Jesus has also given them “peace” and then breaths on them so receive the Holy Spirit.  Pentecost and their next step in God was the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  During the Counting of the Omer, the Disciples spent time with Jesus before the Ascension and their ten days of intense prayer. 

The Root, The Branch, The Fruit – The Christmas Story

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” Revelations 22:16 (NIV)

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots, a Branch will bear fruit. Isaiah 11:1 (NIV)

Yes, the Christmas story and the mission of Jesus is in those two verses.  In Matthew and Luke, the story is told and each writer includes a genealogy of Jesus.  Matthew uses David as a connection point for his Hebrew audience.  The number fourteen (symbolizes David) and his inclusion of women in the lists of names show Jesus to the people in many ways.  Luke speaks to his Gentile reader(s) by using a slightly different look in the family tree (probably Mary’s) and goes back to the Garden and the first Adam.  Luke’s genealogy includes the “common” members of the family, while Matthew has the Patriarchs, the Kings, and the “common” people. 

Using the picture of roots, stumps, and branches allow for interesting symbolism.

The Root

Our two verses show the root of David, which is Jesse and the root of Jesse, which is the tribe of Judah, and the root of Judah is Jesus.  The genealogies in Matthew and Luke help here!  But if you like the rest of the story turn to First Chronicles 2:3 – 17.  This really starts in Numbers 26:19 and Genesis 38 especially verses 27 – 30.  The story starts with Judah, who could hand out hard verdicts but did not do well in the receiving department.  Perez was the first one completely out but the second-born son because Zerah stuck his arm “out” first.  (This is a strange picture of being the “first and the last”.)  It is his family line through Ram that produced the leaders of the Tribe of Judah.  Jesse was the “head man” of the tribe and should have been one of the “panicked elders” when Samuel showed up in their town.  (I wrote Cut Jesse Some Slack, BECAUSE!)  That would have put Eliab, by birth, as the next in line for the leadership of the tribe of Judah.  In reading 1 Samuel 16 and 1 Chronicles 2:13 – 17 you get a whole picture of Jesse’s family.  The two lists of sons don’t match and it may be that one died as David is #7 in Chronicles and #8 in 1 Samuel.  

A few thoughts as a teacher and a gardener to show the importance of the root.

  • It is the first part to show up when the Seed is covered with water.  It absorbs the water to convert the stored energy into the rest of the plant.
  • I have to include Genesis 1:2 – the Spirit was over the water, God did a lot with water in Genesis 1.  Baptism is also a must, you leave the old man under the surface and the new man comes out.
  • Roots anchor a plant.  It really is the biggest part of the plant as it spreads out in the soil working to take in water and other nutrients. 

The Branch 

Jonathan Cahn in his Book of Mysteries series talks about Matthew 2:23 where Jesus fulfills the prophecies that Jesus would be a Nazarene. (Video on YouTube) The root word for Nazareth/Nazarene is netzer which means branch.  So, Isaiah 11:1, Zechariah 3:8, and Jeremiah 23:5 are those prophetic announcements. 

I will not start “splitting hairs” about stems, trunks, etc. because I just have a feeling it is more about the foundation (roots) and what is growing above (branch).  Jesus in John 15 and Paul in Romans 11 also lean into this way of looking at a plant.

In John 15 Jesus calls Himself the vine and we are the branches – we have to be connected to Him.  Romans 11 has us as branches being grafted into “the olive tree” so we can grow.

Branches are for reproduction; the fruit will form on them.  So, if we look at Jesus as the Branch – He was to produce fruit.  If we consider ourselves as the branch, we must produce fruit!

Both 

Revelations 22:16 puts Jesus in two positions – The Root and the Branch.  The symbolism and its examples in this thought could go on for a while.  (You may have the privilege.)  If I focus on just plants I will give you this – Jesus is the alpha and omega, the beginning (roots), and the end (branch).  

Fruit Wheat or oak trees, a plant is about producing fruit (or seed).  Good fruit, bad fruit, or not producing fruit there are many parables about fruit in the Gospels.  We always tend to think of the fruit of the Spirit, but in context with my Kingdom series is Matthew 21:43 – the kingdom of God can be taken from you and given to people who will produce ITS fruit.