The New Testament records seven “I am” sayings by Jesus:
“I am the bread of life.”
“I am the light of the world.”
“I am the door of the sheep.”
“I am the good shepherd.”
“I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
“I am the true vine.”
“I am the alpha and omega.”
When Jesus spoke these sayings, He used them to illustrate figures with which the people during this time related to on a daily basis. Sheep, grape vines, and bread were a part of every day life for them, so when Jesus used these terms to liken Himself to, they related. They understood what He was saying, and it meant something significant to them. But, in our modern day culture, we miss out on that significance because our way of daily life differs from the people of the New Testament culture. We miss out on what Jesus is offering to us. However, by understanding the significance, we can learn how to apply the “I am” sayings of Jesus to our modern life so that it means something important to us.
1. I am 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)
In the context of this passage, Jesus has just miraculously turned five loaves of barely bread into enough to feed five thousand people. But, Jesus wants them to know that He can do more than just provide their physical bread. He can provide them with everything they need whether it be physical or spiritual because He is the bread. He is the source of all our needs.
He doesn’t say these words to necessarily mean that we will never again feel hunger, but rather that we will never again have to worry about where our food will come from. He will supply all our needs.
“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
Many people spend their lives hungering for a true happiness and peace that is the spiritual fulfillment that only Christ can provide. Once we realize and believe that Jesus is the source of our fulfillment, we learn how to go to Him to find that happiness and peace.
2. I am the 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 says this directly after a woman was accused of being caught in adultery. Her world was dark that day. The Jewish leaders humiliated her, suggested she be stoned to death–all because she got caught up in sin, which can blind us to what is right , good, and best for us.
Maybe she loved the married man with whom she had an affair, or maybe she just gave in to lust, but all the same, sin had blinded her way of thinking so that she gave herself permission to go down that wrong road, which resulted in her dark day.
Jesus doesn’t condemn her, and He doesn’t make her feel worse than she already does. He simply says, “I am the light of the world.” He just wants her and everyone else to know that when we look to Him and seek His ways, He will lead us down a road of better choices that will result in peace and happiness, a road without shame and dark days.
I grew up out in the sticks of West Tennessee. There were no street lights on our gravel road, so when it got dark, it was pitch black. You couldn’t see anything. But, one day, my daddy put out a big spotlight that lit up one whole side of the yard. When you develop a relationship with Jesus, He becomes that spotlight in your life. Knowing Him lights up your world so that you can see where to walk in the right path and where to make the right choices for your life that result in happiness and fulfillment.
3.I am the door of the sheep.
“Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” ( John 10:7-9)
In Bible days, many people raised sheep, and they could relate to this saying of Jesus. In the countryside, sheepfolds were an area of pasture encircled by a wall made of piled rocks. The gate, or door, of the sheepfold was simply an opening in the wall just large enough to allow the sheep to enter in to feed in the pasture. While the sheep grazed, the shepherd would lie down on the ground across the opening to prevent any predators from entering in to kill the sheep. In this sense, the shepherd became the door of the sheep. This is the message that Jesus is illustrating to us. He is the door through which we enter into His kingdom and He protects us.
It is worth noting that Jesus says He is the door and not a door. It is only when we choose Him that we find the kingdom of fulfillment and protection. I am reminded of the game show, Let’s Make a Deal, where contestants choose between Door numbers 1, 2, or 3 to see what prize is behind the door. If a contestant chooses the right door, he/she wins a fantastic, expensive prizes, but if he/she chooses the wrong door, he wins a much less valuable prize. When you choose Jesus, you are choosing the door that has the best prizes behind it.
4. I am the good shepherd.
“I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.” (John 10:14) ; Psalm 23
I cannot think about this saying of Jesus without thinking about Psalm 23:
“The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.”
Jesus is the shepherd who provides and protects those who trust in Him and follow Him. It is an illustration of a shepherd who loves His sheep so much that He is willing to lay down His life for them to protect them and provide for them so that they can live.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
5.I am 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)
In this saying, Jesus is listing three things, but yet they all add up to one. Jesus is the road (way) that reveals the truth and leads to life.
Life is sometimes like driving on the interstate. Sometimes, you are not sure if you are on the right road or not, and if you are not, then you know you will not arrive at your desired destination. So, you watch for the signs that reveal the truth of which road you are on as well as options for other roads to take. Once you see the signs, you can choose to take the road that you know will get you to where you want to go.
In life, we all are looking for the road to the happily ever after. Jesus says He is the Way that reveals the choices we should take that will lead us to this happily ever after.
6.I am the true vine.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” (John 15:1)
In Bible days, raising grape vineyards was a major occupation. Grape branches are the product of a main vine from which they receive water and nutrients to produce grapes. Vines are tricky because they can twist and wrap around everything if left uncontrolled, making it difficult to tell where the main vine is located. You wouldn’t want to accidentally cut off the main vine because you would then cut off your grape production.
Like the main vine, Jesus is the source of our nourishment and life. From living a life in Him, we produce fruit, which is fruit of the Holy Spirit–that is, ” love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”--(Galatians 5:22-23)–it is this fruit that results in a happier and more fulfilling life. But, if we live a life cut off from Him, we will wither and dry up.
There have been times in my past when I allowed my faith in Jesus to grow dim. I recall during those times how dry and withered my life felt without Him.
What’s more, Jesus warned that there would be people throughout history who would come and claim to be our Lord and Savior, but they would only be imitations. These false leaders are false vines and cannot provide us with the true happiness and fulfillment that Christ can because He is the true vine.
7.I am the alpha and the omega.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End’, says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.'” ( Revelation 1:8)
Alpha and omega are first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. What could Jesus be illustrating here? I personally believe that He wants you to know that He is there at the beginning of your problem and He will be there until it is ended. What’s more, He is at the beginning of your life, and He will be there until the end of you life. He is there when you are born into this world, and He will be there when you pass from it.