Oh how I love a good irony. That being said, how ironic in terms of timing is it that in this PODCAST, on this our fourth anniversary together as a Safe Haven family, we come to Jesus’ statement here in John 15, in the Upper Room Discourse, when He said to His men (and to us!), “I am the vine, you are the branches”? (John 15:5a)
The irony to which I refer lies in fact that this statement completes John’s portrait of Jesus.
You talk about Jesus in High Definition. How about seven layers of definition, skillfully painted on the canvas of John’s Gospel, that leaves us with no doubt as to the true character of Jesus as the God-man.
Understand that from start to finish, John had but one goal in mind, one purpose to his writing, one theme, one image that he sought to paint in this his artful masterpiece of his master. One that he painted in such beautifully breathtaking detail.
A portrait of Jesus to which John alerted us in the very first verse of his glorious gospel. Right out of the gate, John stated his theme, clearly and unambiguously when he wrote,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)
If Matthew wrote to establish Jesus as the King, Mark painted the portrait of Jesus as a servant. If Luke left us no doubt that Jesus was fully human, John balanced books by showing us Jesus is God.
That is how John began his Gospel; listen now to how he concluded it:
“In his disciples’ presence Jesus performed many other miracles which are not written down in this book. But these have been written in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through your faith in him you may have life.” (John 20:30-31)
John’s theme? Jesus is God.
Now, in order to demonstrate to his readers that Jesus is God, out of the abundance of miracles that Jesus performed, John handpicked the ones that he chose to record in his Gospel. By doing so, he carefully crafted his narrative: Jesus is God.
Now here’s the thing: In the same way, and for same reason, that John handpicked several of Jesus’ miracles, he also purposely selected several of Jesus’ sayings.
Seven of Jesus’ many sayings, to be precise. A complete compliment of exactly seven. Each one of these seven prefaced with the two telling words, “I Am.”
As you are about to hear, a singularly and startlingly specific phrase. “I Am.” The significance of which was not lost on John. Nor will it be lost upon you.
Now, like the other eleven Apostles, John was a Jew. And, being a good Jew, John knew his Torah. No doubt, he had the stories of the Torah memorized, including the famous story of God speaking to Moses through the burning bush.
Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘Whatis His name?’ what shall I say to them?”
14 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:13-14)
As John wrote in Greek to his audience the events in the Upper Room, to convey the message to his readers that Jesus is God, he used the exact same terminology. Let there be no mistake. Jesus is God… just as Jesus said:
Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58)
When Jesus said these words in front of Israel’s religious leaders, His message was clear. This is why they instantly picked up stones to kill Jesus.
But, Jesus wasn’t finished. Soon thereafter, we read this:
31 Once again the people picked up stones to kill him. 32 Jesus said, “At my Father’s direction I have done many good works. For which one are you going to stone me?”
33 They replied, “We’re stoning you not for any good work, but for blasphemy! You, a mere man, claim to be God.”
Under their understanding, they had every right to pick up stones and kill Jesus, as per the Torah.
“You must not misuse the name of the LORD your God. The LORD will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name. (Exodus 20:7)
God’s name? I AM.
So, in addition to recording seven times when Jesus used God’s self-assigned name, he also recorded Jesus’ explanations via incredibly meaningful metaphors.
The first is found in John 6:35,
Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life.”
My prayer is that each of us are reminded every minute of every day that He, the Creator and Master of the universe longs to break bread with and have an eternal relationship with each and every one of us. We are never alone.
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12)
I constantly pray that God’s brilliant light of His glorious presence expel the darkness that sometimes shrouds your soul. I pray that He lights an inferno-like fire inside you that passionately burns to draw closer to His light!
Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.” (John 10:7)
I pray that God protects you with the shield of His presence – that no fear, problem, pressure, nor discouragement ever enter your life apart from His unshakable promise to turn every sort of evil into your good and His glory.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
I pray that God’s caring presence will faithfully lead you to what you need as He guides you through lands of abundance as well as when He guides you through the wastelands of wilderness.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. (John 11:25-26)
I pray that God’s eternal presence would dispel any fear you may have of the future. I pray that our minds remain focused on heavenly things, rather than cause our spirits to be weighted down by the myriad of distractions that surround and disheartens us.
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)
We are surrounded by so many voices clamoring for our attention and devotion. So, I pray that God’s sincere presence banish all confusion, distraction, deceit, and doubt that may attempt to infiltrate our minds and hearts. I pray that the purity of God’s truth stops us from copying the behavior and adopting the world’s flawed values.
Which brings us back to John 15:5,
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing… By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
I pray that God’s sustaining presence causes divine beauty and grace to flow through you as He abides in you and as you abide in Him. With God’s presence abiding and radiating from within you, then every person you cross paths with can know that they have been in the presence of a man or woman of God!