In John, one of the gospels from the New Testament, Jesus is famous for uttering the "I am" statements. These claims are foundational to understanding who Jesus is and what He believed about Himself. Here is a list of these statements to refresh your memory.
- I AM the bread of life.
- John 6:35: Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
- John 6:48: I am the bread of life.
- I AM the light of the world.
- John 8:12: When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
- John 9:5: While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
- I AM the door.
- John 10:7: Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep."
- I AM the good shepherd.
- John 10:11-14: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me...."
- I AM the resurrection and the life.
- John 11:25: Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies."
- I AM the way, the truth and the life.
- John 14:6: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
- I AM the true vine.
- John 15:1, 5: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
These statements provide us with a window of authenticity into the life of Jesus. It is out of this worldview that Jesus engaged the community around Him. As disciples, each of us has the opportunity to create our own window of authenticity by what we do and by what we say. What I find fascinating about these sayings from the life of Jesus is that they are statements of being, not statements of comparison. Often times I find myself falling into the trap of self-promotion. I feel compelled to justify who I am and what I do to others in order to be granted their approval. I am driven by performance instead of being driven by simply being who I am.
Think about this for one minute. How would you describe yourself to someone else? What descriptors would you use? Are the statements you would make about yourself statements of comparison where you are measuring yourself against a known or unknown standard? Or are you simply making a statements of being?
Here is an example:
I am a father.
I am a better father than most dads.
The first statement is one of being, the second is one of comparison. Statements of comparison are subjective and shallow. Statements of being are not only authentic, but are also transparent and real. One set of statements breeds authenticity, while the other breeds contempt.
Jesus understood the importance of making statements of being, but also of follow through on the statements that He made. A disciple is someone who not only speaks about authenticity, but one who strives to live authentically in each decision made every day.