Believe That I Am
The Gospel is the Holy Spirit’s presentation of the person and work of Jesus Christ to humanity. The advent of Christ ushered in the long-awaited Promised One. Although Israel had cried out for many years for the Messiah, they did not recognize His arrival. One of the most sobering passages in all of Scripture is John 1:10-11, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.” What does God mean when He says Believe That I Am?
Out of God’s goodness and wisdom, the good news of salvation came from multiple Gospel accounts concerning His only Son. The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John form a beautiful portrait of Christ as King, Servant, Son of Man, and Son of God. The Apostle John’s telling was the last of the Gospels written and is unique in its emphasis on the eternal and intimate relationship between God the Father and God the Son.
The first phrase of this beloved Gospel is, “In the beginning.” One is hard-pressed to move past these opening words without hearing the echoes of Genesis 1:1. From the opening verse, the Apostle John declares his eternal perspective concerning the person of Jesus. His pen does not include a genealogy of flesh but instead boldly states Jesus was, is, and forever will be God. The book of John does not begin with words from a prophet, as does Mark’s Gospel, but instead declares Jesus to be the Everlasting Word. The Apostle wastes no time asserting the foundational truths that Jesus is and has always been God; all creation came into being through Him; and life and light are in Christ alone. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, John’s view is unquestionably from Heaven’s glory to earth’s humility. The target of John’s writing is the heart of the hearer. John reveals with profound depth the person, word, and work of Christ.
In Scripture, repeated words and phrases hold weighted significance. John uses the word “believe” over ninety times in his Gospel. The Greek word for “believe” is pisteuso which means to have faith in and to trust. With every repetition comes a multiplied reason and opportunity for faith. John clearly states his intention in John 20:31, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”
Specifically, the Apostle desires all to have faith and trust in Jesus as the Messiah, sent from God, who is able and ready to give eternal life. John’s ultimate purpose is for all to find life in Christ, which only can come through believing Jesus is God’s only begotten Son. Each word written reflects John’s conviction, unwavering love, and life’s surrender to the person of Jesus Christ.
Of the many revelations concerning Jesus found in the book of John, the “I Am” statements rise to a prominent place. In these declarations, Jesus identifies Himself as the Son of God who alone can accomplish the work of God. Just as John’s opening phrase “in the beginning” connects his reader to Genesis 1:1, the “I Am” statements stir up references to God’s introduction to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3. In this passage, God hears Israel’s cries, sees their suffering, and calls Moses to deliver His people from Egypt to a promised land. God unveils His eternal, self-existent, unchanging name to Moses in Exodus 3:13-14, “Then Moses said to God, ‘Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you.” Now they may say to me, “What is His name?” What shall I say to them?’” God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.”’”
The deliverance of Israel from Egypt’s slavery foreshadows an even greater salvation to come. A land promised to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob served as a shadow of a greater hope to be fulfilled. Jesus came to redeem humanity from Sin’s bondage and Death’s fears, not simply from earthly captivity. This redemption is to be accomplished by Himself, who came and dwelt as God in human form among His people to be seen, heard, and believed. John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Jesus stands as the Savior of the world and declares with all authority, “I AM.” He spoke not just to be heard but to be believed. Jesus revealed Himself to hearts that were both religious and non-religious, Jewish and non-Jewish, teachable and hardened, the large crowds and the one. As the soul hears the truth, it either intensifies in unbelief or grows in faith. Each statement of revelation comes with a promise of fulfillment resulting in God’s glory and our good.
BELIEVE: I AM the bread of life.
John 6:35 Jesus said to them [the crowds in Galilee], “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.”
John 6:51 “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”
BELIEVE: I AM the light of the world.
John 8:12 [Jesus to people in the Temple’s court] Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
BELIEVE: I AM the door of the sheep.
John 10: 7-9 So Jesus said to them [Pharisees] again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”
BELIEVE: I AM the good shepherd.
John 10:11, 14-15 [Jesus to the Pharisees] “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”
BELIEVE: I AM the resurrection and the life.
John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her [Martha], “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”
BELIEVE: I AM the way, the truth, and the life.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him [Thomas], “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me”.
BELIEVE: I AM the true vine.
John 15:1-5 [Jesus said to His disciples] “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
The book of John is a unique and intimate view of Jesus, who was fully the Son of Man and the Son of God. John’s intensified awareness of the innermost thoughts and emotions of the Lord Jesus Christ fills each story told. It is no surprise that an intimate view of Jesus is present in John’s writing because he is referred to on four different occasions as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23, 20:2, 21:7, 21:20). This beloved one increased in faith, hope, and love in his Lord and Savior from his first “yes” to the call from Galilee’s shore to his last breath in Patmos’ prison cell. In the concluding verses of his Gospel telling, John verifies his testament confidently with what his eyes beheld, his ears heard, and according to his life’s transformation. This life and light found in Jesus became the passion of John for all to hear, know, and believe so that they, too, could be called a child of God. John 1:12-13 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”