Savoring the I AM at Christmas
Christmas is only a few days away, with its celebration of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who was born in a manger. We rejoice as we remember who he is and all that he has done for us. The first chapter of John tells us of a Savior who came in the flesh as the Word of God. The rest of the book continues to tell the story of this Savior who embodied his Heavenly Father.
Jesus makes several “I am” statements in the Gospel of John that can bring us great hope and comfort. The declaration “I am” echoes God’s response to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus: “‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14).
I AM is a powerful statement declaring who God is, and the seven “I am” statements of Christ recorded in John’s Gospel reveal particular truths that should capture our attention. When we fix our eyes on who God the Son is and what he has done, our disappointments lose their hold over us, and our joys are made greater as we thank him for his unfailing goodness. Let’s look at Jesus’ “I am” statements together and savor our Savior in preparation for Christmas Day.
“I am the bread of life.” (John 6:22–59)
The people in Jesus’ day often missed his power and purpose, even though the Messiah was physically present with them. They asked for signs to help them believe, and focused on the outward and the tangible rather than the eternal. Jesus teaches in this passage that he is the ultimate manna from heaven: the bread provided by God for his people that they may eat and have life.
God promises to provide for our physical needs, while also revealing that ultimate fullness is found in him alone. Physical hunger is meant to point us to our greater need to partake of the Bread of Life so that we will never hunger again. He is the only one who will satisfy the deepest longings we have.
How often do you think about Jesus as your strength, your portion, and your sustenance?
“I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12, 9:5)
Israel had experienced the darkness of exile and oppression for centuries before the coming of Christ. Since the fall, humanity has dwelt in the deep darkness of sin and separation from God. In coming as the light of the world, bringing hope and salvation, Jesus fulfilled Isaiah’s Old Testament prophecy: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone” (Isaiah 9:2).
You don’t have to look far to find darkness in our world. There are great depravity and evil, and it is incredibly difficult for us to grapple with, to see a glimmer of hope. However, we can trust that our Savior, the light of the world, will fully expose the darkness. He has won the victory and his light will shine in the darkness to overcome it, bringing glory to his name.
Where do you see the light of Christ exposing hidden darkness in your life? How can you walk in the light today (1 John 1:5–7)?
“I am the door of the sheep.” (John 10:7–10)
Jesus uses the image of a shepherd tending his flock of sheep to illustrate the way he calls, cares for, and protects his people. The door, or gate, of the sheep, illustrates the salvation offered in the Gospel, through Christ alone.
Jesus is the only way to the Father. There is no other way to know God and be made right with him than through his perfect, spotless Son. We often try so many other ways to get to God, but he has already provided a perfect way for us to know him, and that is by entering through the door that he provides through Jesus.
What does Jesus promise that “anyone enters by him will be saved”(John 10:9) bring you comfort and assurance today?
“I am the good shepherd.” (John 10:11,14)
Jesus builds on the shepherding imagery to illustrate his relationship with his people, his flock. He leads, guides, protects, and provides. He alone is the unfailingly good shepherd—the one who lays down his life for the sake of his sheep.
Sheep are animals that need great assistance in order to survive, let alone thrive. Jesus knows the same is true about us. We want so badly to be independent and able to do things on our own, but the Good Shepherd gently, yet firmly, leads us in his ways because he knows exactly what we need.
In what ways is Christ shepherding you in this season of life? How is he guiding, protecting, providing?
“I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25)
Jesus makes this declaration to Martha after her brother Lazarus has died, to point her and others beyond the amazing future event of bodily resurrection to the fuller, deeper truth: Jesus Christ himself is resurrection; he is eternal life.
This year has shown us more than ever our desperate need for resurrection life, for a Savior. We cannot save ourselves, and God graciously sent his Son as the ultimate sacrifice. In his death, we die to sin, and in his resurrection, we are raised to new life.
How can the reality that Jesus is the resurrection and life shape the way you live this week? Who in your life needs to hear this good news?
“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)
In this bold, hope-filled statement Jesus proclaims again that he is God the Son. He shows that he perfectly and exclusively fulfills the Old Testament symbols, systems, teachings, and promises.
There is no other way to the Father but through Jesus. Nor is there such thing as “my truth” or “your truth;” there is only his truth. And there is no life apart from him. He gives life abundantly to all who respond to Him in faith.
Where in your life have you been clinging to a “truth” other than Jesus? How can the truth of who Christ is and what his Word says replace the counterfeit truth you have believed?
“I am the true vine.” (John 15:1–11)
The allegorical story of the vine and branches is one of the most beautiful images we see in Scripture. When we recognize that we are tethered to Jesus, the true vine, we can be unshaken, because he will never be moved. His roots are deep because he is one with the Father. When we root ourselves in him, we will not be disappointed, because the truth of his Word gives us everything we need for all that is in store for us (2 Peter 1:3). As we abide in the true vine, he will sustain us and prune us to make us fruitful.
What fruitfulness can you celebrate today as a result of abiding in the true vine, Jesus Christ? Where is he pruning you so you will bear even more fruit?
This Christmas, we may be tempted to fix our eyes on a pretty tree—or the gifts wrapped beneath it—cheesy movies, family traditions, or sweet treats. But the message of Christmas is so much more. We can rest in a Savior who has come to make all things new, including us. The “I Am” has come to give us abundant life that can only be found in him, and that is the greatest gift there is.