Tag Archives: casting nets

The “I Am” Statements in John

I’ve been gone from this blog for a few months now for various reasons.  The main reason I’ve been absent in writing for you is because I have been writing a book… maybe someone, someday will read it.  No, I’m not done, yes you may read it and give your opinion, no I am not going to post it online, and yes eventually my wife will edit it which will make it a much better book.  So if you want to wait, I don’t blame you…  but it might be 20 years or so. (I have no desire to be a prolific writer, I just want to write one book that matters before I die.)

Having said that, I wanted to share something.

There are 7 “I am ______” statements in the book of John.  The Bread, The Light, The Door, The Good Shepherd, The Resurrection, The Way Truth and Life, and finally The True Vine!

The first three we will deal with today, the last three on another day, and we will deal with the middle statement last. These first three are always repeated, and are delivered in the face of religious leaders who hate Him!  They are repeated as a form of call to repent, which is important to note!  Understanding the character of Jesus IS the call to repentance.  When we learn the character of Jesus we are exposed before Him and must either repent or reject Him.

The Bread is mentioned in John 6:35, 48, and 51.  This claim is placed within a story in which Jesus feeds 5,000 people (at least), miraculously walks over a body of water with His disciples, and ends up with people complaining about Him.  In this way John connects Jesus with Moses freeing the slaves from Egypt and thereby designates Jesus as the savior that Moses promises would come in Dt. 18:15-22.  Jesus stands on the other side of a miracle and makes a clear statement, “I am the bread of life come down from heaven!”  In making this claim Jesus is explaining that the true miracle of sustaining provision and nourishment is Him!  So Jesus is here claiming He is the sustainer of life.  Agreeing with Isaiah 55 Jesus explains that true sustaining power in life is The Lord Himself.

Jesus next calls Himself, “The Light.” (8:12, 9:5) This claim is found in two settings, which is rare in John.  In a simple reading of John you will find clearly delineated points told through stories and subsequent discourses that are interconnected by the setting.  However, in this particular one the setting changes.  First Jesus stands in the temple treasury following a great feast in which there was a large candelabra to commemorate God’s guidance through the wilderness.  It is in this context of a pillar of fire that Jesus makes the claim, “I am the Light of the world!”  Then Jesus argues with the religious leaders until they try to stone Him!  Don’t worry, they don’t get away with it… because Jesus “hid Himself”… in an open courtyard… while surrounded.   The second time Jesus makes the claim is in the midst of healing a blind guy in chapter 9.  After healing the blind guy Jesus makes the point that the religious leaders are blind but claim they are not, and therefore “their guilt remains.” (9:41) By claiming to be the Light, Jesus connects Himself to Isaiah 42:6-7.  In Isaiah God states that He will guide His people and He will give them sight and free them from blindness.  Thus, Jesus is explaining, The LORD will be your light and will give you sight.

Next Jesus makes the claim that He is The Door! (10:7,9) This statement is made in the context of explaining the role of a sheep gate.  In order to understand this, you’re going to have to bear with me.   In ancient Israel, shepherds would need to bring their sheep inside a gated area with a gate keeper and other sheep herds.  Multiple herds would be kept in the same gated area.  When a shepherd came to the gate, the doorkeeper would open the gate, the shepherd would call out his sheep and they would come out to follow him.  Jesus calls Himself The Door effectively claiming that He is the way in which we find protection from death and calls us out of our religious protective systems into safe pasture under His guidance.

All three of these will make amazing since in light of the last three which we’ll talk about next week.

Matthew 4:19

 

Lately I’ve been thinking about when Jesus looked at Peter and Andrew and said to them, “follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mt. 4:19) As I read through the Gospel I have enjoyed seeing how Jesus changed the hearts of his rag tag bunch of followers.  They begin their journey with Him in near complete obedience.  That’s because they have taken upon themselves this Messiah’s promise.  Don’t be mistaken, this is a promise.  Jesus tells them, “Follow ME!” that’s a command.  Immediately following the command Jesus says, “and I will make you…” that’s a promise, “fishers of men…” that’s the end result.

Now, to Mathew 4:19.  Now what’s intrigu
ing about this passage is who does the work.  The passage is not about making yourself a fisher of men, but it is about following Jesus.  You see Jesus was saying, “Follow me” that’s the command.  We follow Him!  In our obedience to Christ, we will be lead into evangelism.  The promise is “I will make you fishers of men.”  Did you see that?  Jesus says that He will mold you into fishers of men.  The passage is saying, “OBEY.”  If you will obey Christ, then you will be made into fishers of men.  Easy.  So, reading this passage helped me to realize something.  We become fishers of men when we know Christ.  The more we know Christ, the more he shapes us into who He designed us to be.  The more that happens, the more we fish.

Now, fishing in Jesus’ context was hard work.  You couldn’t just sit on the side with a pole.  You were casting nets, dragging them in, finding the schools of fish, up early, home late, and you probably lived pay check to pay check.  Your hands were calloused from the nets, and you always smelled like fish.  So, when Jesus looks at these to fishermen and says, “I’ll make you fishers of men.”  I don’t think they thought, “How wonderfully relaxing and comforting that will be!”  I think they rolled up their sleeves and said, “Let’s do this!”  My point is: following Jesus is not always easy.  Following Jesus means we are going to be transformed into His image.  He is going to have to chip away a lot of nonsense.  But, we are invited into a journey that is well worth the work!  To follow Jesus means to be changed.  It means to journey on a lifestyle that will take discipline and hard work.  Further, it means that Jesus is going to mold us into disciplined hard workers.

Now it is necessary to take note that Jesus doesn’t tell Levi, “Follow me and I will make you a money counter of men.”  His response is always, “follow me,” but it is not qualified in such a specific manner again.  So this begs the question.  Was this promise only for the fishing disciples?  I don’t think so.  I think He doesn’t repeat the same pattern because it only made sense in this context.  Matthew was not going to be transformed into a counter of people, that would be contrary to Christ’s mission.  But, in this passage there is an underlying principle.  That is, a journey with the Messiah is going to so change who you are.  It is going to change your life and you are naturally going to be evangelical.  If you follow Jesus, then you will be a witness.   Christ has moved, and you can do nothing else.