I want to write on the 7 I am sayings of Jesus Christ. In the New Testament, when Jesus claimed “I am” He was making connection to the Old Testament name “Jehovah“, the name that God revealed to Moses when he asked God, “who is sending me”? God stated that this is His name for all generations. The Jews knew what Jesus meant when He called Himself “Jehovah”, that He was and is God. As Jehovah, He is also El Shaddai, the God who has life in Himself and imparts that life in the lives of His followers. In the Gospels, Jesus tells us what He imparts to us as His followers. Do you know what all Christ has to pour into you as His follower? I would say that many “followers” are unaware of what is at their disposal as disciples of Jesus Christ. This has been my experience over the past 17 years of ministry, literally all over the world.
I. Light of the world
In the Gospel of John, chapter 1, the gospel writer John reveals to the world that Jesus is the light of the world. The world has been in darkness since the fall of mankind in sin in Genesis 3. There have been glimpses of light as God revealed His Word to His followers. But, on a whole, the world has groped around in the darkness of sin.When Jesus came on the scene, the Light of the essence of God was revealed in Israel, and, from Israel, it shone throughout the entire world. It has been shining since the birth of Christ. Now all men have the ability to see Christ for who He is and understand God for who He is. This is important. Now mankind has a choice of accepting the Lord for who He is or rejecting Him. Mankind can no longer claim ignorance. Have you been enlightened by the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you realize who God is and what He desires? Are you run to the Light or are you trying to run away from It?
II. Resurrection and life
From our birth, we are enslaved to our sin nature. Even after we are enlightened by the truth of who God is in Jesus Christ, we still cannot run to God on our own, because of our slavery to our sin nature. We may know what the truth is and desire to run to the truth but, our sin nature will not allow us. The bad news is that we are enslaved. The good news (Gospel) is that Jesus Christ rose from the dead to break our sin nature’s power over us so that we can run to the Light. Have you placed your trust in the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Has your sin nature’s power over you been broken? Once you trust in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, He fills your life with His life. The Bible teaches us that you were dead in your old way of life and now, when you trust in the resurrection of Christ, you are brought to life and given life by the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you realize the significance of the resurrection of Christ? It is not just to show that Jesus has power over death. It is to break sin nature’s power over God’s people.
III. The way, truth, and life
Once we are enlightened and understand the significance of the resurrection of Christ, we realize that He, Jesus, is the only way back to God. In Acts, we learn that there is only one way to God, through the Lord Jesus Christ. God is not like a mountain top, accessible from all sides. God can only be approached via Jesus Christ. This is THE TRUTH in a world that preaches moral relativism. As followers of Jesus Christ, we can stand on this truth and share it with the lost world around us. The people around us need to be enlightened. They need to know the truth of the power of the resurrection. They need to know that they can be reconciled with God and it is only possible via the Lord Jesus Christ. Are you willing to be the one to share this Good News (Gospel) with the people within your sphere of influence.
IV. The gate
This is a clear reference that Jesus’ Jewish audience understood well. In order to enter the tabernacle, the presence of God, there was only one way of entry, through the gate. This saying is connected to the previous one because Jesus is the only way to God. Everything in the tabernacle was a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ.
- the door – it faces East and is the only entrance into the tabernacle / John 10:9 – Jesus is the door. No one can begin walking into the presence of God unless first coming to Christ
- the bronze altar – upon entrance, an animal was sacrificed for sin / John 1:29 – Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world
- the bronze laver – once the sacrifice was offered, the next step was to wash in the water contained in the bronze laver / Ephesians 5:25-26 and John 15:3 – Jesus washes us with the water of His Word
- the golden lampstand – upon entering the holy place, the only source of light comes from the candles in the lampstand / John 8:12 – Jesus is the Light of the world
- the table of showbread – the only source of food in the tabernacle was the bread on this table / John 6:35 – Jesus is the bread of life and we must enter into covenant with Him to have life
- the altar of incense – after passing the table of showbread, we encounter the altar of incense where a soothing aroma filled the tabernacle / Hebrews 7:25 – Jesus intercedes on our behalf with prayers
- the veil – on our journey to the presence of God, we encounter the veil that separates God’s holiness from sinful people. The veil is for the people’s protection / Hebrews 10:19-20 – Jesus is the veil, torn in half inviting us to enter into covenant in order to enter the presence of God
- the ark of the covenant – this is the presence of God / John 14:6 – the only way to enter into the presence of God is through the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except THROUGH Him.
V. The vine
Once we enter the presence of God through the Lord Jesus Christ, we are connected to Jesus Christ the way that a branch is connected to a vine. This teaching is found in John 15. The context and point of the passage is that the disciples were to stay connected to the source, Jesus Christ, through the Word of God. The purpose of staying connected was to be in a place to produce much fruit (more disciples). This is why Jesus calls us. This glorifies God. This is why God leaves us on the earth after we come to saving faith in Jesus Christ.
While connected to the source, Jesus Christ, we need someone to lead us through the process of making disciples. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who leads us. Our job is to follow Him so closely that we are connected to Him the way a branch is connected to the vine. The job of the Shepherd is crucial. He is the provider. Here is what the sheep need from the shepherd:
- Sheep are always in need of food and they are not good at finding it for themselves. Also, they will eat anything that is in their path. The shepherd has to lead them to food and make sure that the food is safe. God knows that we need daily spiritual food and has provided for us. He also knows that we need to avoid the bad stuff. When we are babes in the faith, the Good Shepherd provides milk so that we can grow to maturity. As we grow toward maturity, the Good Shepherd provides solid food to keep us on the track of maturity. In II Timothy 3:16-17, we see how the Good Shepherd leads us to maturity through His Word.
- He teaches us through the Word, showing us what is right and what is wrong so that we are able to reject what is wrong and embrace what is right.
- He rebukes us through the Word, showing us where we are wrong so that we can make the right moves to get right.
- He corrects us through the Word, placing us on the right path once He has showed us where we were wrong.
- He trains us in righteousness through His Word, keeping us on the right path once He has placed us there. The question is, are you in the Word so that God can refine your life, leading you to maturity?
- Absence of fear
- Sheep are timid, jumpy animals and they do not do well when afraid. They make bad choices because of fear. The Good Shepherd knows this and He has provided relief from our fear. His love is the secret to overcoming fear. When we are afraid, we focus on Him and not on the things around us that cause us to fear. In fact, when we enter the Good Shepherd’s fold, He gives us His Holy Spirit which casts out our fear. In fact, if we want to overcome our fear, we must look to the Good Shepherd and trust that He has our best intentions in mind.
- Absence of conflict
- Sheep do not do well when in conflict. The problem is, if they are left alone and cared for, they begin to fight with each other over petty things. The Good Shepherd knows about this and teaches us how to deal with conflict. The first thing that we have to do is to be ready to forgive others because God has already forgiven us of so much. Many times conflict arises and festers because we just do not want to forgive. The second thing is that we must take initiative in resolving conflict. Do not pretend that all is well between you and God when there is obvious conflict with a brother or sister in Christ. Deal with the conflict first, according to God’s Word. The third piece of advice is to have the right attitude about yourself and about others. Do not be selfish and self-centered. Instead, look to meet the needs of others in humility. Follow the example of the Good Shepherd.
- Absence of pests
- Pests are a problem for sheep. If they are not dealt with, the sheep will literally go crazy, even harming themselves because of the pests. The pests usually enter the sheep’s nostrils, lay eggs, and these eggs end up driving the sheep crazy. They can do nothing else but focus on the pests. A good shepherd has to rub soothing oil in the nostrils of the sheep so that the pests just slide down and fall away, leaving the sheep comfortable and happy. This is seen spiritually in our minds. The pests are thoughts that can drive us crazy. The Good Shepherd has provided a solution for these thoughts. II Corinthians 10:3-5 teaches us how to deal with the thoughts that can drive us crazy. First you must take action and not believe anything that goes in direct contradiction to the Word of God. Things raised up against God are just speculations and are empty efforts. Do not let them take root. If they have taken root, rip them up and throw them out. Next, take every thought that comes into your mind captive and decide whether it is from God or not. If it is from God and of God, let it stay. If it goes against God then kick it to the curb. How can you tell if the thoughts are of God or not? Philippians 4:6-9 teaches us how to distinguish between the two things. God wants to protect your mind with His Word. If His Word occupies your mind, especially your thought, then the pests will not be able to take root and steal your peace.
This is a duel reference. This reference is connected to the previous reference of Jesus being the Good Shepherd who feeds us. This is also a reference to the bread that the priests ate in the tabernacle. This food gave them the strength to be able to serve the Lord by serving the people. This reminds me of Jesus statement to Satan that man does not live on bread alone but, on every Word that comes from the mouth of God. We are to feast off of the Word of God on a daily basis so that we have the strength to serve the Lord by serving the people around us. Here is how the process works:
When we are babes in the faith, Christ provides milk so that we can grow to maturity. As we grow toward maturity, the Christ provides solid food to keep us on the track of maturity. In II Timothy 3:16-17, we see how Christ leads us to maturity through His Word.
He teaches us through the Word, showing us what is right and what is wrong so that we are able to reject what is wrong and embrace what is right.
He rebukes us through the Word, showing us where we are wrong so that we can make the right moves to get right.
He corrects us through the Word, placing us on the right path once He has showed us where we were wrong.
He trains us in righteousness through His Word, keeping us on the right path once He has placed us there. The question is, are you in the Word so that God can refine your life, leading you to maturity?