In addition to His given name, Jesus, which means “the Lord saves” (Matt.1:21), Jesus is also often mentioned in the Bible using these names or titles: the Christ (meaning Anointed One), the Son of God, and the Son of Man. Yet there are even more ways Jesus describes Himself in Scripture. As part of the Trinity, Jesus affirms that He and the Father are one (“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father,” John 14:6), yet the Bible clearly shows that they are distinct persons. These particular seven “I Am” statements from John’s gospel seem to describe Jesus’ unique role in the Trinity as the Son.
I Am the Bread of Life
“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.” (John 6:35, NIV)
Jesus called Himself the Bread of Life in context of the aftermath of the feeding of the 5000. He explained that He offered greater life-giving sustenance than that miraculous bread or even than the manna God’s people had survived on in the wilderness long ago.
I Am the Light of the World
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” (John 8:12, NIV)
Here, Jesus uses the contrast of light and dark to show that He is needed desperately in a fallen world.
I Am the Gate for the Sheep
“Therefore Jesus said again, ‘Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” (John 10:7-9, NIV)
These kinds of livestock and shepherding metaphors would have been familiar to Jesus’ audience. Jesus as the Gate means He is the only safe way to enter the sheepfold and also the thing keeping threats out.
I Am the Good Shepherd
“’I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:14-15, NIV)
A shepherd is everything to the sheep in his flock. Jesus as the Good Shepherd cares for and protects His sheep with His life.
I Am the Resurrection and the Life
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’” (John 11:25-26, NIV)
In this statement, Jesus is responding to Martha, whose brother Lazarus has died. By calling Himself the Resurrection and Life, He gives Martha hope for her dead brother, but also a much greater hope for anyone who believes in Him.
I Am the Way, Truth, and Life
“Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:5-6, NIV)
Jesus has said that He is going to prepare a place for His disciples, and that they know the way to where He is going. Jesus Himself is the way there. In fact, early Christians in Acts were called followers of the Way (Acts 9:2, 24:14), which may refer to this statement by Jesus.
I Am the True Vine
“’I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5, NIV)
Here, Jesus uses a gardening metaphor to explain how vital is it for His followers to stay connected to Him. A branch can’t be separated from the main vine and survive. It would wither and die and be used for firewood.
Jesus is called by a plethora of other names and titles as well. Immanuel or “God with us” (Matthew 1:23, Isaiah 7:14), the Lamb of God (John 1:29), and Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5) are just a few. Each one communicates something essential about who Jesus is. As you read Scripture, look for other names, titles, and descriptions of Jesus and what they mean.