The i ams in the Bible are statements that God makes about Himself. In the book of Exodus, God says to Moses: “I am who I am,” and then identifies Himself as Yahweh. The name Yahweh means “I will be what I will be.”
There have been many manifestations of open hostility toward God’s Word throughout history. This, however, begs the question: how? Jude gives us a hint in his letter:
Because among you are some whose fates were sealed in stone long ago. To paraphrase Jude: “They are ungodly people, who change the grace of our God into an occasion for immorality, and who put Jesus Christ to open shame” (Jude 1:4).
Bad people were able to enter the church and propagate their heretical ideas because of the church’s limited finances. God’s people need a plan that includes consistent, in-depth study of the Bible to safeguard themselves from the perils of false teaching.
What Are All of the ‘I AM’ Statements of Jesus?
The phrase “I am” reflects Exodus 3:14, where God introduces himself to Moses with the expression “I am who I am.” This statement became a way to connect with God personally and was used throughout Israel’s history to convey that God always was, always is and always will be.
While there was no clearer way that Jesus could have said “I Am Jehovah God,” He did not stop there. Instead, He continued to dive even deeper into revealing His nature by working purposeful miracles and making humanly descriptive I AM statements about Himself.
I used to pride myself on my ability to know a lot of people. While my college was considered “small” (around 2,000 students), I would say that I knew most of them. But looking back now, I actually knew very few people; I just knew about a lot of people. There is a huge difference.
It is no surprise that social psychology says that actually knowing someone requires personal and private knowledge coming from being with someone over time and building up a level of trust so that they let you in. Knowing about someone is just the first step toward actually knowing them.
It is the same way with God. Thankfully, God has gone to the extreme to make himself known to us. He does this through nature, personal spiritual interactions, and (most importantly) the revelation of himself through his Son, Jesus Christ that we get to read about in the Bible.
Why ‘I AM’?
Jesus was especially self-revealing in his “I Am” statements found in the gospels (specifically in the Book of John). These descriptive statements explain the character and nature of God through significant phrases that all begin with “I Am.” These are not Jesus’ only statements about himself, but they stand out in a unique way.
Although we cannot comprehend the complexities of what God is (as in all-powerful, always present, and all-knowing), the great thing is that we can know who he is because he has revealed Himself to us through His Son, Jesus Christ.
The God of the universe is not just some mysterious voice behind a curtain. He is a relational being that we can know personally. He is Immanuel, which means “God with us.” Really, Jesus’ coming was the culmination of God already revealing Himself to us in so many ways.
Interestingly, though, the gospels are not the first time that one of these “I Am” statements were used in Scripture. The first time it appears is early on in the Old Testament. In Exodus 3:14, God told a man named Moses to go to the evil Pharaoh and demand that the Hebrew people be allowed to leave their slavery in Egypt.
Along with this classic instruction to “let my people go,” God explained to Moses that His name should be called “I Am who I Am” (or “ego eimi” in the Greek), which means “I exist” or “I be.” This title of “I Am” was used by God or the “Angel of the Lord” multiple other times throughout the Old Testament (such as in the story of Samson).
This is because God always wanted His people to know Him ever since sin separated humanity from Him in the Garden of Eden. God promised His people through the prophet Jeremiah: “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you…” (Jeremiah 29:13-14, ESV).
Centuries later, when Jesus used it to describe Himself to His disciples, He was referring back to these expressions every time and not-so-subtly declaring that He is the I AM. No wonder the religious Jewish people were upset! While these self-revealing comments by Jesus are powerful and provocative for us, the people around Jesus would have recognized what he was doing and saying.
This was a “stumbling block” (as Paul called it in 1 Corinthians 1:23) for some of the people and a source of contention and division for others (such as the mob’s response in Luke 4). This assertion ultimately led to Jesus’ crucifixion! For His true disciples, though, Jesus unequivocally claiming to be God was eventually the very life-giving truth that they clung to and gave their lives for (John 6:68).
Who Is Jesus?
While there was no clearer way that Jesus could have said “I Am Jehovah God,” He did not stop there. Instead, He continued to dive even deeper into revealing His nature and character by working purposeful miracles and making the following seven descriptive statements about Himself that each has real implications for humanity:
1. I Am the Bread of Life: Jesus alone can sustain us, who are but starving beggars looking for food (John 6).
2. I Am the Light of the World: Jesus is the original and eternal source of light in the universe for us who are spiritually blind by birth (John 8).
3. I Am the Gate of the Sheepfold: Jesus is the only door to life for us who are lost outside God’s will (John 10).
4. I Am the Good Shepherd: Jesus knows and cares for us who are orphaned, wandering sheep without a shepherd (John 10).
5. I Am the Resurrection and the Life: Jesus is the key to escaping spiritual death for us who are hopelessly doomed to death because of our sin (John 11).
6. I Am the Way, Truth, and Life: Jesus is the accessible path, the illuminating truth, and the giver of life for us who are lost, ignorant, and dead without Him (John 14).
7. I Am the True Vine: Jesus is the source of eternal life for us who are dead and useless branches apart from him (John 15).
Jesus is the “I Am.” He is everywhere, everything, and “every-when.” As the songwriter, Oscar Bernadotte wrote more than a century ago,
He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom, He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb, He’s all that my hungering spirit needs, I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead.
After considering these incredible truths about who God is, we are left with the difficult question that Jesus asked His disciples in Mark 8:29, “Who do you say that I am?” Do you know God?
Not do you know about Him, but do you really know Him on a personal level. If not — He can be known, wants to be known, and made a way for you to get to know Him through Jesus Christ!
What Does This Mean?
Our world is full of so many people who know just enough about God to know what to say and sing, who do just enough good to feel better about themselves, who have memorized enough out-of-context verses to convince themselves they are fine, and who would quickly check the box of “Christian,” but their eyes do not really see Jesus, their ears do not really hear His voice, and their life is not really in relationship with Him.
They say they love Jesus, but not enough to do what He says. There is an eternity of difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Him.
May we hear and receive the words that Jesus said about Himself much more than what we think, how we feel, what we have heard, and even what we have experienced about Jesus in the past. May our prayer be similar to Paul’s prayer in Philippians 3:10 to “know [Christ] and the power of his resurrection…”
7 I Am” Statements of Jesus In John
7 Times Jesus said “I Am”
In the Gospel of John, an all-important phrase, spoken by Jesus, is repeated seven times. Jesus repeats the words “I am.” In this repetition we see the fullness of His character.
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
Jesus spoke these words after a quiet night alone in the wilderness. He fled to this wilderness after the miracle of feeding the 5,000 men (and more women and children) with just five loaves and two fish. Following this miracle and these words, the people, somehow, still asked for a sign that they could believe in Him. After all, they argued, their ancestors had manna. Jesus assured them that although their ancestors were given manna, they were dead. He offered the kind of Bread that those who ate would never die.
Jesus, as the Bread of Life, offers each of us life everlasting.
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
Jesus uttered these words to a group that witnessed an incredible scene. Teaching in the temple, a woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus. As the accusers attempted to trick Jesus by asking if He thought the woman should be stoned, Jesus mutely wrote in the sand. The accusers evaporated and the embarrassed woman was set free with forgiveness and the admonition to turn away from the darkness. Now, turning to the remaining assembled people, Jesus tells them that He is the Light of the world.
Jesus, as the Light of the world, offers a choice between the darkness of sin and the glistening light of a life in His presence.
“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” -John 10:9
How does God describe Himself to His creation? In John 10, Jesus tapped into something familiar to each of His listeners—shepherding. Likely, the bleats of nearby sheep echoed behind Him as He spoke. Anyone sneaking into a sheepfold by any means than the door was not there legitimately. The only legitimate access to the sheep was through the door.
Jesus is that Door and He alone offers the true path to salvation.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” -John 10:11
Jesus is the Door and so much more. He is the Shepherd—the One whose voice the sheep know and trust. The Shepherd will protect and save the sheep at any cost.
Jesus, as the Good Shepherd, died to save each of us.
The Resurrection and 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
Jesus’ friends, Mary and Martha, are distraught. Jesus has arrived too late—their brother Lazarus is dead. The grieving Martha hears Him say, “Your brother will rise again,” and she responds in faith, affirming that he will rise in the last days. But Jesus has other, more immediate plans for Lazarus.
Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life, will raise all who believe in the last days, just as He raised Lazarus.
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
Thomas and the rest of Jesus’ disciples could not comprehend His leaving them. He warned them—on multiple occasions—but they could not seem to accept it. As they struggled with this, Jesus helped them to see the Father and to understand that they were one.
Jesus, as the Way, the Truth and the Life, is God, and is our only Source of salvation.
“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 15:5
As Jesus spoke, the vines hung heavy with ripened fruit throughout the region. His listeners understood the significance of the vine and the dependency the branches had to the source of nutrition and water.
Jesus, as the Vine, is our Source of life—life today and everlasting life.