The Sea of Galilee
Yeshua’s “I AM” Statements
The Bible, the Talmud, and other rabbinic sources tell us that a large and growing number of people in Israel believed in Yeshua as they witnessed His many miracles. According to Raymond Fischer, a Messianic Jew from Israel and author of The Children of God, about one-quarter of the people in Jerusalem at the time of Yeshua’s death believed in Him. To understand exactly what they believed about Him, we need to look at what He said about Himself. Below are Yeshua’s I AM statements. In each one of them Yeshua declares that He is Yahweh:
- “I AM the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst (John 6: 35)….I AM the bread that came down out of heaven (John 6: 41)….I AM the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die (John 6: 48-49)….I AM the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (John 6: 51)
In these verses, Yeshua likens Himself to the manna Yahweh provided for the Children of Israel in the wilderness. He said that people who eat His bread will never die the way they did. His “living bread” symbolizes His body, or His flesh, that was sacrificed for us. When we consume His “living bread,” we are uniting with Him and the sacrifice He made to atone for our sins, and since He is eternal we will live with Him forever. The Passover in Egypt and The Last Supper use this same symbolism.
- “I AM the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life….For unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” (John 8: 12 and 24)
Yeshua said He is the Light of the world that exposes the darkness. Just as light from the sun is the source of physical life, so is Yeshua the source of spiritual life. He likens darkness to death, and in Him there is no darkness.
According to the editors of The New Jerusalem Bible, in John 8: 24 when Yeshua said, “…unless you believe that I am He….,” He was claiming to be Yahweh:
“‘I Am’ or ‘I Am He’ is the Divine Name revealed to Moses (Yahweh)….When Yeshua appropriates this Name, He is claiming to be the One incomparable Saviour, the goal of Israel’s faith and hope.” (The New Jerusalem Bible, Doubleday, New York, 1985, p. 1763)
In John 8: 28, Yeshua said “I am He” again: “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He….” (John 8: 28)
The Bible says that many people who heard Yeshua make these claims “came to believe in Him.” (John 8: 30) Since He had told them that He is Yahweh, that is what they must have believed. Even more, they must have believed that they would die in their sins unless they believed Yeshua is Yahweh because that’s what He said in John 8: 24. Yeshua addressed this remark specifically to the people who believed He is Yahweh:
“If you abide in My Word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8: 31-32)
In John 8: 31, “My Word” must refer to the Old Testament because there was no New Testament at that time. Besides, the people to whom Yeshua was speaking already believed He is Yahweh, so it makes perfect sense that they would have understood that He was referring to the Old Testament. When Yeshua said “you will know the truth,” they would have understood that He was referring to the Scriptures again because Yahweh’s Word is truth. (Psalm 119: 160) Don’t miss the significance of these points. By calling the Old Testament “My Word,” Yeshua was claiming to be Yahweh.
In a nutshell, John 8: 31-32 is a warning to distinguish between Yahweh’s Word, or the Old Testament, and the traditions taught by the priests, many of which contradicted the Scriptures. Every one of Yeshua’s followers would have been familiar with this line of reasoning since He had told them on several occasions that every Word in the Law and the prophets is perfect.
When He finished speaking to His followers, Yeshua addressed these remarks to the priests: “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My Word has no place in you. I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father….You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father….” (John 8: 37-38 and 44)
Yeshua made it crystal clear that the source of the priests’ traditions was Satan himself, and His contempt for their traditions defies description. As I said before, eventually He would die for violating their tradition prohibiting saying the Name “Yahweh.”
- “I AM the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I AM the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved…” (John 10: 7-9)
Yeshua said He is “the door” to eternal life. There is no other way to salvation! Any other way to God that may seem right to us is actually wrong no matter what we may think.
- “I AM the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not from this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My Voice; and they will become one flock with One Shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it up again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.” (John 10: 14-18)
In Ezekiel, Yahweh referred to Himself as the Shepherd of His people, and Yeshua’s claim to be the Good Shepherd is a declaration that He is Yahweh. This passage from Ezekiel explains exactly what Yeshua meant:
“Therefore, you shepherds, hear the Word of Yahweh: ‘As I live,’ declares Adonai Yahweh, ‘surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock.’ Therefore, you shepherds, hear the Word of Yahweh: Thus says Adonai Yahweh, ‘Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I shall demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding my sheep. So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I will deliver My flock from their mouth, that they may not be food for them.’
For thus says Adonai Yahweh, ‘Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day. I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries and bring them to their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streams, and in all the inhabited places of the land. I will feed them in a good pasture, and their grazing ground will be on the mountain heights of Israel. There they will lie down on good grazing ground and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest,’ declares Adonai Yahweh. ‘I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick; but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with judgment.’” (Ezekiel 34: 7-16)
Yahweh said that the priests had failed to do their jobs. Instead of feeding the flock, they fed off of them. Yahweh also told the priests that He would assume the role of shepherd Himself and do the job they should have done. In this I AM statement, Yeshua is saying He fulfilled that promise. In Ezekiel 34: 25 Yahweh said He would make a “covenant of peace” with His people when He came to shepherd them. In this I AM statement, Yeshua is saying He is the fulfillment of that promise as well. The “covenant of peace” is the New Covenant that Yeshua ratified with His own blood.
- “I AM the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” (John 11: 25-26)
Yeshua offers eternal life to anyone who believes in Him. He protects us no matter what happens to our physical bodies. Thus, we can be bold and confident as we go about doing the work He gives us to do with the full assurance that He is our Rock and our Refuge.
- “I AM the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” (John 14: 6-7)
In response to this I AM statement, Philip asked Yeshua to show them the Father, and He said, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14: 9)
Without a doubt, Yeshua claimed to be Yahweh. Despite the clarity of this statement, some people cannot believe that a loving God would provide only one way to salvation. In their minds, there must be many ways to come to Him. The only problem with their thinking is that He said there is only one way, and He is sovereign. Yeshua said, “I AM the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14: 6) and that is exactly what He meant.
- “I AM the vine, and My Father is the vine-dresser….I AM the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15: 1 and 5)
The vineyard Yeshua refers to in these verses is the Kingdom of Yahweh. The Father is the vinedresser, and Yeshua is the vine. We are the branches on His vine, and we get all our nutrients from Him. The Father expects us to bear fruit. In John 15: 2-3, Yeshua said the Father removes the branches that bear no fruit and prunes the productive branches so they bear even more fruit. But we are not left alone to do our work. He said, “…apart from Me you can do nothing.” The corollary to this statement is “with Him we can do anything.”
The Message is Clear
In his book Jesus Among Other Gods, Ravi Zacharias summarizes the meaning of Yeshua’s I AM statements perfectly: “He (Yeshua) was identical with His message. ‘In Him,’ say the Scriptures, ‘dwelt the fullness of the Godhead bodily.’ He did not just proclaim the truth. He said, ‘I am the truth.’ He did not just show a way. He said, ‘I am the Way.’ He did not just open up vistas. He said, ‘I am the door.’ ‘I am the Good Shepherd.’ ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’ ‘I am the I Am.’” (Zacharias, Ravi. Jesus Among Other Gods, Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group, 2000, p. 89)
At this point, there should be no doubt in your mind that Yeshua claimed to be Yahweh. In fact, in John 8: 24 Yeshua said that unless we believe He is Yahweh we will die in our sins. It’s almost impossible to misinterpret that verse, and as far as I am concerned, that’s as serious as it gets. And one more thing, it should be obvious that this is Yeshua’s message—not mine, and it is all over the Scriptures. This is the only relevant question. Do you believe the Bible? If you do, then it’s time to recognize Yeshua for who He is and tell the world about Him by Name—His Divine Name, Yahweh.
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