This year our Lenten theme will center on the seven “I AM” sayings of Jesus in the Gospel of John. We chose this theme because it focuses on the nature of Christ and what that means in our lives. Lent is a season of seeking deeper understanding of Jesus and through these sayings John is communicating important aspects of who Jesus is.
Jesus doesn’t ask the question, “Who do you say that I am?” in the gospel of John, as he does in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The gospel of John differs from the other three in that it was written much later, at the end of the first century or the beginning of the second century, so it reflects the growth of the early church’s understanding of who Jesus is that took place in the second half of the first century.
John states the purpose of his gospel in 20:30-31: “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in his disciples’ presence, signs that aren’t recorded in this scroll. But these things are written so that you will believe that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, and that believing, you will have life in his name.”
So, John’s gospel doesn’t purport to be a biography — or even a complete collection of the teachings and actions of Jesus. There is no birth narrative or parables, for example. What we find in John is more of a cosmic view of Jesus and the meaning of his life, written so that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One, the Son of God. And that we will have “life in his name.”
What is key to this understanding is the seven images Jesus uses in the gospel of John to describe who he is:
I am The Bread of Life
I am The Light of the World
I am The Gate
I am The Good Shepherd
I am The Way, the Truth, and the Life
I am The True Vine
I am The Resurrection and the Life
Each of these images communicates a different facet of who Jesus is and what the nature of his mission and ministry is. Most of these are concrete images that serve as revealing metaphors. Many, in fact, are primary symbols of our faith.
So, in this Lenten worship series we will be looking at each of these sayings individually and in greater depth, thinking together about how these symbols of our faith reflect on not only who Jesus is, but who we are in relation to him.
Welcome to the Season of Lent. I look forward to worshipping and discovering with you the timely relevance of the seven I AM sayings of Jesus.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster