Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Seven I Am Statements of Jesus: Who is Jesus?

Audio Message:

Who is Jesus? Who is it really that we’re following? What did Jesus say about himself, and his identity? We talk about Him enough don’t we? Jesus this, Jesus that, but who is Jesus? 

The prophet Isaiah, an Old Testament prophet wrote about Jesus, and who he was, before Jesus was even born. In fact there are dozens of descriptions in the Old Testament about who Jesus was, even before he was born into the world. Isaiah wrote:

“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted." -Isaiah 53:3-4 NIV

Yet at the beginning of John’s gospel, which is what we’ll be looking at today, it’s also said about Jesus, that he is the Word. Which is a phrase that seems to describe Jesus as a voice of God in the world. John wrote:

John 1:1-5, 9-14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.

9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him,the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John this guy, two thousand years ago said “We SAW HIM.” We hung out with Jesus. And we witnessed his glory day in and day out. They chilled with Jesus. They hung out with him all the time and he mentored them. Anybody here ever had a person mentor them? Support them? Spend time with them? That’s what Jesus did with the first disciples, the first Christians.

The gospel of John is by far my favorite gospel. I really think it was written down by John for just our time in history. If you’ll open your bibles to John, that’s where we’ll be looking today.

We talk about Jesus a lot. We use his name a lot. But how well do we know him? How well do we know and obey the one we follow? We’ve got to stay in the word of God, the Bible. The more we read it, the more it becomes a part of our mind. And we access Jesus through the word.

Jesus said that through the word he had given his disciples, they had been made clean. The word of God is our most direct means of accessing God and being transformed by God.

Today we’re going to specifically talk about the 7 I Am statements of Jesus in John. The 7 “I Am” Statements of Jesus are a great way to build in your mind a framework of who jesus is and what his position as our “savior” really means. I’d encourage you to memorize one or more of these “I am” statements. And recite them in your prayers to God. And recite them to yourself when your struggling or in need.

What comes into our minds when we think about Jesus is the most important thing about us. That’s what A.W. Tozer a great Christian pastor said. And it’s true. Everything hinges on our relationship with Jesus Christ. So let us pay the most careful attention to what Jesus says about himself.

In John Chapter 6:35-40 It says: 35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

1. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.”

Therefore according to the word Jesus is our sustainer.

He provides for all our needs. Which is why we have food to eat and water to drink. That’s why I always thank God before I eat any meal. I encourage you to do the same. So many people, even Christians don’t pray before their meals. And I think to myself, what are they doing! God has given us such abundant food in this country, yet we don’t thank Him? Are we so entitled, and so snotty to think that we deserve all this abundance? We don’t deserve anything. We receive what God gives us.

Jesus loves us. He is our bread of life. Whoever comes to Jesus will never go hungry or thirsty. Jesus indicates how we should live in response to this gift: Live to do God’s will, and not our own wills. That’s what Jesus did. He did the Father’s will perfectly. We are called to do the same, to live as God wants us to live.

Challenge the lies of the world: Do you provide for you? Are you the ultimate source of what you have? That is a lie of the world. That we have to force things in our lives to go a certain way by manipulating people and circumstances to meet our needs. Ultimately our real provider is Jesus. And we can live that way, with that mindset.

2. Jesus said I am the light of the world. 

Jesus is our illuminator

From John chapter 8 verse 12: “12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

What a mysterious saying. What did Jesus mean by this, to say he is the light of the world? I think several factors play into this. First, the word of God says that Jesus actually holds reality together. In this way, Jesus is the light of the world, in that he guides reality. Yet we get another clue about light and darkness earlier in the book of John, in chapter three it says:

John 3:20-21 (NIV) says: 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

So we who choose to follow Jesus, step from the darkness into the light. The darkness is a place of hiding, of fleeing from god. We hide the evil we do, and refuse to accept that God is real and that we are accountable to Him. But those of who follow Jesus, are willing to admit, yes we do everything in the presence and sight of God, we step into the light, and say yes, I am under God’s light, I choose to show that what I do is done before God. We live in the light of Christ. And this isn’t always easy. Because if there is sin in our lives, addiction, sexual sin, masturbation, pornography, lying, cheating, stealing, that light of Christ burns those areas of our soul. And we’re convicted by those areas. And we’re disturbed deeply by them. If you really belong to Jesus Christ, and then you go and sleep with some random girl or guy, let me tell you, you’ll have a very hard time enjoying it. Because your living in the light, and you’ll know that you’ve done that before God. The light burns the sin out of our lives. Because we can’t stand the sin when we live in the light. We want it gone. We hunger and thirst to be holy and righteous. Which feels better than any fleeting pleasure of sin.

Before I knew Jesus I couldn’t see much. I couldn’t see any thing really. I was blind. I kinda understood that I was human and I existed and I suppose to I don’t know, get a job, or go to college, or have a family or something. But I had no idea what life was really about. Couldn’t really figure it out.

But when I came to know Jesus, finally I could see what life was really about, and what the meaning of life was.

3. Jesus said I am the gate. 
Jesus is our doorway.

John 10:7-16 says: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me[a] were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. 9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved.[b] They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

Jesus said again and again, “I’m telling you the truth.” Not my truth, not a truth, not one of many truths, but the truth. I love that about Jesus. I so desperately want to know the truth about this messed up, yet beautiful and mysterious world we live in. Jesus gives me the truth. It isn’t always easy to hear, but at least it’s the truth. And we have to love the truth if we’re going to recognize it.

Jesus is our doorway into the truth. He is literally the door through whom we walk to receive new birth, eternal life, an entirely new life, from the dead world that we come from. Emptiness, darkness, sin, decadence, Jesus removes it all. But we have to come through Jesus, not through ourselves, or our ideas, or by way of a pastor or preacher, or through religious ceremonies. We have to come personally, you, alone to Jesus and ask Him to be your savior, to remove your sins, and give you new birth through the power of the Holy Spirit.

It’s the truth. But only through Jesus. But in Jesus we find a life of purpose, a rich and satisfying life. I used to be a drug addict. Emptiness, loneliness, confusion, ego, pride, all of those things encompass that lifestyle. And it’s lame. It’s boring. Jesus gave me a life that means something. Where I can do things that are important. He can give that to you too!

The lie of the world this relates to is self-sufficiency. The world tells us, the television, which I like to call the “tell lie vision” tells us we have to do it ourselves. Me, me, me! What I want! I deserve it. It’s all about looking to ourselves and our aspirations and our dreams and our goals. That isn’t what we’re called to. We’re called to look to Jesus, and enter through him. Not our own opinions. Forget our own opinions, most of them are wrong. Look to Jesus and the word of God, and embrace those views, they are the truth. Just as Jesus said, I am telling you the truth. Take it or leave it.

4. Jesus said I am the good shepherd. 

Jesus is our leader.

Now in the same chapter, just one verse after Jesus says that he is the gate. He continues and says:

John 10:11-18 (NLT) says,“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.

17 “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. 18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”

Not only is Jesus our gate of entry, our doorway to salvation, Jesus also goes along with us on the journey. It’s kind of like Lord of the Rings, the heroes go on their quest, and Gandalf comes with. That’s what Jesus does for us. He comes with us, and protects us on the journey of life. Not only that, but he leads us. And ultimately he laid down his life for us. Jesus says that he knows us, and we know him, if we’re part of his family. And he says they’ll listen to my voice. And surely we do, don’t we? That’s why we read the Bible and study the gospels.

Jesus also says that he lays down his life voluntarily, which is what he did on the cross. No one took him by force and sent him to the cross. He’s God on Earth, if he wanted he could strike down everyone around him with a mere thought. But no, he goes voluntarily, he knew he had to, to die for our sins. To receive the punishment we deserved.

5. Jesus said I am the resurrection and the life. 

Jesus is our life giver.

John 11:20-27 says: "Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 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. Do you believe this?”

27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

We all know the historical event of Mary and Martha. Their brother died. And Jesus came, and raised Lazarus from the dead. Why did Jesus do this? What was the meaning of this event?

One of the worst things about life is that we grow old and die. In fact it’s so normal, that we don’t even hardly think about it. We just assume that we grow up, then start getting wrinkly, then eventually we die.

Jesus is the only one who can deal with this issue of death. And fundamentally at the core of the gospel is that Jesus Christ tells us that if we believe in him we can live forever. Forever. So I think Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead to show us quite clearly that he was God and he had the power to raise us from the dead after we die as well. Plain and simple, if you want to live forever, believe in Jesus. He can raise us from the dead, he’s shown us he can, when he raised Lazarus.

6. Jesus said I am the way, the truth, and the life. 
Jesus is our road home.

Jesus is sitting down with all the disciples. And things are happening. The wheels of reality are turning. The establishment has put up with Jesus and his teachings, his miracles for this long. Jesus has been fought and attacked and mobbed and the religious leaders are just about done with him. In fact one of his twelve, Judas, has decided to betray Jesus. Jesus is having the last supper with the disciples. And they are all super sad, because their best friend is telling them some very bad things are about to happen. And Jesus can tell his friends are sad. So he says:

John 14:1-7 says: “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home.[a] If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?[b] 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”

5 “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. 7 If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”

Jesus is so awesome. He says, dude, Thomas, I am the way. Come through me, I’m your God. You’ve been with me all this time. Thomas didn’t get it. Many of us struggle to “get it” too I think. But we can come to understand these things. If we’re diligent about pursuing Jesus.

Jesus makes the most astonishing statement. And it’s beautifully put. John 14:6 is my life verse. After my parents divorced when I was 16 I went on a rampage. I just like, threw up my hands and said I’ve had enough. Because I had honestly tried so hard to do as I was told and fit into the system. I tried to get good grades, but the classes were awful and the teachers didn’t care about what they taught. I tried to be a good sports star just like my dad wanted, but the coaches were corrupt, they pushed their own sons to starting positions. They did nothing when I was mercilessly mocked and bullied by the other players. Everyday I would go to school, get bullied by the preps, then go to practice, get bullied by the jocks, then I’d come home to my parents screaming at each other in the hallway. So I’d go in my room, and cry, and turn on Korn.

When my parents split my dad refused to talk to me because I quit basketball. I started doing pills, and the preps got scared, because they knew how much they bullied me, so they got me expelled. And I was expelled. I woke up in a mental hospital and was told I was expelled.

For the next 10 years I just said screw it, I’m not gonna care about anything. I’m gonna do whatever feels good, I’m gonna do drugs, and I’m gonna chase girls, and I’m gonna kill myself eventually. That was the plan. But part of me was wondering what life was really about, because the public schools, the material life, the videogames, the parties, it all felt empty.

Years went by, as I wondered what the meaning of life was. Why am I here? What should I do? Jesus Christ answered all of my questions in one sentence in John 14:6 when he said, “I’m the way, I’m the truth, and I’m the life.” Jesus is the way to live. Follow his example. Jesus is the meaning of life, Jesus is truth itself. And what is the meaning of life? Well because Jesus is the life, I can live forever. Eternal life is the meaning of life.

7. Jesus said I am the true vine. 
Jesus is our source.

In the final I am statement of Jesus, the 7th, Jesus is saying, so now you know me, I’m your savior now, and Jesus is saying, “remain with me.” Don’t get lost, you’ve got to stay connected to me. He says:

John 15:1-8: “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.”
All the odds are stacked against you out there. The world of sin will try to rip Jesus away from you, through temptations, through boredom, through family, drugs, sin, and through friends among many other things.

I urge you, cling to the Bible as if your life depended on it, because it does. Cling to prayer, because communication is the beating heart of our relationship with God. If we aren’t doing this two simple things, we aren’t a Christian, we’re nobody.

If we stay plugged into Jesus, then we’re gonna do great things. That’s what Jesus means by bearing fruit. If we remain in Christ’s love, by following him day in and day out, then we’re gonna grow, change, and do incredible things.

Many of my friends say that they got saved, that they encountered the risen living Jesus Christ when they were young, 5 years old, 8 years old, 10, 13, 15, 17, 18. Still others tell me they didn't encounter Jesus until much later in their lives.  It can happen for you now. Maybe it already has. But I want to offer the opportunity for you to make that commitment to Jesus today. Right now.

So let me present the gospel to you. Essentially, this is the gospel: Humanity fell away from God, long ago. And ever since the human race has been lost in sin. We all know we’re sinners, that we struggle with stealing, lying, cheating, using others, drugs, addiction, and all sorts of sins that entangle us, hurt us, and hurt those we love. The truth is we’ve sinned against God. And everytime we sin it adds to this list of the wrongs we’ve committed against God.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try to be good, we can’t do it. I know, I’ve tried to be good. Sin always seems to overcome all the good I try to do.

But God decided long ago that he was going to come into the world, and defeat the sin problem. That is why God became Jesus Christ, born as a man, and Jesus lived a perfect life. He never sinned once. He was fulfilling the mandate for each person to live as God desires us to live. He served others, healed the sick, spoke the truth, and loved his friends. Jesus willingly went to the cross, he wasn’t forced, he went of his own choice. Jesus was whipped until his back was bloody. He had nails driven through his hands and feet. And he was mounted up on the cross, to die slowly.

And on the cross, all of my sins, the entire debt that I had accumulated, all my sin, was placed upon Jesus Christ while he was on the cross. When I believe in Jesus, all my sin is transferred to Jesus. And in return, I receive his perfect righteousness. It’s like I put on Jesus as a garment of pure white. 

So it’s a simple trade. Jesus receives all my sin, and I receive his righteousness. Jesus died on the cross. He cried out father why have you forsaken me? And at this moment God the Father turned his face away from God the son, and condemned him as payment for the sins of you and me. Jesus lay dead for three days in the tomb. And then Jesus did the impossible. He was resurrected from the dead. So not only does Jesus pay our debt through his death on the cross, but he also resurrects from the dead, to show us that He is God, and that He will give us eternal life. He was saying with his resurrection that if you believe in me you will be resurrected after your death and you will live forever. Just as Jesus lives forever, right now. Jesus is alive right now. 

 If you believe three simple things, and insist in your mind that they are true, then you will be saved:

1. Jesus is God and man and lived perfectly, never sinned.

2. Jesus our savior died on the cross paying the debt you owned for the sins you’ve done over your life.

3. Jesus resurrected from the dead and is alive right now in heaven and he is coming again. We believe that through Jesus resurrection we are given new life as well, we are born again by the Holy Spirit.

Believe in your heart, and testify with your mouth. Very simple.

Who do you say that Jesus is? Is he just some guy? Or is He God your savior? 

Ultimately the choice is yours.  God offers us the sacred gift of choice.  You can believe conspiracy theories from the internet, about gnostic gospels and Da Vincian conspiracies made up in novels, or you can push aside all those lies, and trust in Jesus.  History attests to Christ.  He really existed.  The Bible is a historical document, with thousands of manuscripts that match one another.  Myths that preceeded Christianity have little in common with Christian history, which is based in fact, not fiction.  And the amazing harmonious complexity of the universe leads us to consider the fact that we live in a designed universe, tailored to support human life.  

Those are the facts.  But the choice is yours.  I offer it to you now.  Jesus once asked the disciples: Who do you say that I am?  And Peter replied, "Your are the messiah, the son of God."  How will you respond?  The choice is yours, make a good one. 

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