"I AM" - School Paper

The Gospel of John is filled with significance and insight for both the Christian and the non-believer.  The Gospel of John was the fourth and last Gospel that was written and constructed for the Christian community.  “The date of writing is not known for certain, possibly between 85 and 90 A.D., probably written from Ephesus.”[1] The writer was John the Apostle; throughout the Gospel we see references to the name “John” but he was not the Author of this Gospel.  Anytime the name “John” is found in the Gospel it is in reference to John the Baptist.  “John’s purpose in life was to prepare, straighten, and smooth out a road that would make the entrance of the Messiah easier.”[2] John only records himself as the “disciple, whom Jesus loved.”[3] The writer of the Gospel’s purpose was “that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”[4] The phrase “that you may believe” suggests John wrote this Gospel to the end that his readers would not only come to faith in Christ but might keep on believing.”[5] “Particularly in the Gospel of John, Jesus reveals Himself as the “I AM” of the Old Testament.”[6] Throughout this Gospel Jesus makes many references to being “the way, and the truth, and the life,”[7] “the light of the world,”[8] and “the true vine,”[9] however, this essay will be structured upon Jesus’ claim to being “the bread of life.”[10]

 

The context of Jesus’ claim to be the bread of life is found in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John and exemplified the divinity of Jesus Christ in many ways.  It starts by telling us that Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee and many people followed him that had been sick.  However, throughout this time Jesus went alone with his disciples into a mountain and a great multitude followed them.  Jesus then tests Philip and asks how the people following would be able to eat.  Philip being the analytical disciple understood that two hundred pennyworth of money wouldn’t even compare to the cost of food that would be necessary for the crowd to take a small portion. Immediately Andrew comes up and brings a person to Jesus, which was his custom and ministry.  The solution to the problem was in the hand of a young boy who had five barley loaves and two small fish, which seems out of the ordinary, how could that help a large crowd?  

 

Jesus Christ begins to tell the Disciples to make the great number of followers to sit down. Five thousand men, not including women and children were ushered into a sitting position while Jesus gave thanks and distributed bread to the Disciples to give out to others. “The miracle of feeding the crowd is the fourth of seven signs that John offers in this section as proof of Jesus’ identity as the Son of God.”[11]  Amazingly, through the beauty and grace of an all sufficient God, the people were filled and still twelve baskets remained.  Struck with amazement the people knew something was different about Jesus, He wasn’t just a teacher anymore, He was deity; he multiplied food. The people immediately went from following Jesus to desiring to crown Him as the King. “The point that they failed to see was that Jesus wasn’t going to be their king until they repented. If they had fully understood the passage in Deuteronomy, they would have realized that they should have fallen before Him in sorrow and repentance. But instead they are telling Jesus what He must do. The people fail to really listen to Jesus’ words; they want Jesus on their own terms.”[12] Jesus Christ recognizing it was not His time for this to occur went into a mountain alone and the Disciples were on the sea as a great storm occurred, but Jesus was coming towards them and stilled the ferocious storm.  As Jesus stepped into the ship they were at the place where they needed to be, on shore. Followers arose again and Jesus taught them the work of God was simply to believe on Him who God had sent.  Jesus Christ then began to teach them that instead of searching for bread that is here one moment and gone the next, they should search for the true bread.

 

Jesus explained something in the Old Testament that was extremely significant for the Jews at that time.  The Jews were followers of the Law and they knew all too well about Moses and the wilderness experience where God fed the Children of Israel with Manna from Heaven.  “Jesus pointed out two errors: it was not Moses that gave the bread from Heaven, but God and further God not only gave but “gives” the true bread from Heaven.”[13] In order to make sense of all of this the word “I AM” was extremely significant to the Jewish believers.  In the Old Testament Moses was called by God to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian captivity and through this call Moses was a bit intimidated, just as anyone with a call to do something for God should be.  Moses asked God what His name was, knowing the Israelites would have that as a key question for his claim to authority on delivering them from the hand of Pharaoh and out of Egyptian bondage.  God answered Moses with assurance and said “I AM THAT I AM.”[14] The Jews knew all too well about the name “I AM” but Jesus went further in to explain to them that in the wilderness God provided them with bread, but He was the true representation of that bread. He was the bread that would satisfy the soul of a hungry man or woman, a man that is living without God in a world that doesn’t know God.  

 

            “The book of Numbers is the fourth book in the series often called the five books of Moses (Genesis-Deuteronomy).”[15] This book tells us about the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for forty years, complaining and arguing about what God was and wasn’t doing and what the leaders of the camp were doing and weren’t doing. God was trying to create within them a grateful heart, but inwardly and outwardly the Israelites were rebelling against God, also seen in their rebellious heart towards the leader of God, Moses.  Paul the Apostle wrote and confirmed their arrogance and ungratefulness of the children of Israel in the words “Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured:”[16] The Israelites were in hunger and God miraculously provided manna from Heaven. “Manna was a small round flake used for making bread. It tasted, it is said, like wafers made with honey. It was either a direct creation or a natural product miraculously multiplied.”[17] Manna was the agent by which God satisfied the hunger of His people when they were in need. However, the Israelites still died in the wilderness, the manna was able to satisfy the appetite of the flesh, but couldn’t sustain the spiritual life of those who partook of it.  

 

Jesus went on to tell us that He was the true bread that came down from Heaven.  He came down to do the will of God and die for us that whoever was to believe in Him would be raised up on the last day to live eternally with God. He was the bread of life, the bread that came and restored us and enabled us to be in a real relationship with God.  Jesus tells us throughout his explaining of the true meaning of the manna from Heaven that He was able to help us, heal us, comfort us and most importantly feed us with the true bread.  Jesus Christ was our example in life, throughout the years the Israelites wandered and finally died because of their unbelief, but when Jesus came on the scene all who believed in Him obtained everlasting life.  He had a promise to provide Eternal life to all that would believe on Him and for this purpose John wrote the Gospel of John. It has given us clear instructions on how to live for Christ and how to persevere in our walk with God while changing and impacting the world each day as we pray and live in accordance to Gods divine will. Each of us everyday has a chance to partake in this bread from Heaven and this bread is Jesus Christ who is “the Word of God.”[18]

 

After Jesus made these claims some of the Jewish leaders murmured against Him. It happened just as Paul spoke of in the New Testament about the Jews in the Old Testament. With such claims from Jesus one can be led to believe or not believe.  The truth of the matter is, each of us have a choice to believe on the name of the Son of God who is Jesus Christ or to live in willful disobedience to Gods wishes, command and desire.  We are all given ample opportunity to learn about a Savior who can fulfill our hearts longing and deepest desire.  The choice is ours and we, like those in the times of Jesus proclaiming and validating that He was the bread of life have a choice to accept or to reject His claim of deity and divinity as the Son of the living God.  What will you choose today?

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Smith, Chuck. New Testament Study Guide: Matthew through Revelation. The Word for Today. Costa Mesa, CA. 2005. Print.

Stratuss, Mark., Leston, Stephen., and Deffinbaugh Robert. Quicknotes Simplified Bible Commentary Series: Luke & John. Barbour Publishing. Uhrichsville, OH. 2008. Print.

Towns, Elmer. The Gospel of John: Believe and Live. Scofield Ministries, 2002. Print.

Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN. 2004. Print.

The Holy Bible. King James Version.

Halley, H. Henry. Halley's Bible Handbook: Deluxe Edition. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI. 2007. Print.

Towns, Elmer L. Theology for Today, Mason, OH. 2008. Print.

Morris, Leon. Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Print.

The Essential Bible Handbook. Nashville, TN. 2009. Print.

Towns, L Elmer. A Journey Through the New Testament: The Story of Christ and How He Developed the Church. Cengage Learning. Mason, Ohio. 2008. Print.

 

 

[1] Smith, Chuck. New Testament Study Guide: Matthew through Revelation. The Word for Today. Costa Mesa, CA. 2005. Print. (p. 41)

[2] Towns, Elmer. The Gospel of John: Believe and Live. Scofield Ministries, 2002. Print. (p. 11)

[3] John 20:2. The Holy Bible. King James Version.

[4] John 20:31. The Holy Bible. King James Version.

[5] Towns, Elmer. The Gospel of John: Believe and Live. Scofield Ministries, 2002. Print. (p. 208)

[6] Towns, Elmer L. Theology for Today, Mason, OH. 2008. Print. (p. 160)

[7] John 14:6. The Holy Bible. King James Version.

[8] John 8:12. The Holy Bible. King James Version.

[9] John 15:1. The Holy Bible. King James Version.

[10] John 6:35. The Holy Bible. King James Version.

[11] Stratuss, Mark., Leston, Stephen., and Deffinbaugh Robert. Quicknotes Simplified Bible Commentary Series: Luke & John. Barbour Publishing. Uhrichsville, OH. 2008. (p. 156)

 

[12] Stratuss, Mark., Leston, Stephen., and Deffinbaugh Robert. Quicknotes Simplified Bible Commentary Series: Luke & John. Barbour Publishing. Uhrichsville, OH. 2008. (p. 156)

[13] Morris, Leon. Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Print (p. 110)

[14] Exodus 3:14. The Holy Bible. King James Version.

[15] The Essential Bible Handbook. Nashville, TN. 2009. Print. (p. 55)

[16] 1 Corinthians 10:10. The Holy Bible. King James Version.

[17] Halley, H. Henry. Halley's Bible Handbook: Deluxe Edition. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI. 2007. Print. (p. 140)

[18] Revelation 19:13. The Holy Bible. King James Version.