Deacon-structing I Am: Jesus is God

Deacon Pedro

March 9, 2020
Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well by Guercino (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Two weeks ago, we began a sort of “Lenten series” inspired by the Gospel of John, which will be featured in the Sunday Gospel readings this year more than other years. We began by learning a bit about John’s seven “I Am” statements. We are familiar with all of them:
1. I am the gate (10:7, 9)
2. I am the good shepherd (10:11, 14)
3. I am the true vine (15:1-5)
4. I am the bread of life (6:35, 48)
5. I am the light of the world (8:12; 9:5)
6. I am the resurrection and the life (11:25)
7. I am the way, the truth, and the life (14:6)
I explained that each of these seven statements reflects a way in which Christ is present in our lives and how He fulfills the deepest longing in our hearts.
Last week we looked at why Jesus saying “I Am” is so significant. “I Am” is the name of God as revealed by God himself to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). When Jesus says “I am”, He is saying that He is God. The seven official “I Am” statements are especially significant, but John has Jesus saying some form of “I am” a total of forty-six times!

For John, there is no question as to the divinity of Christ.

In John's Gospel Jesus doesn’t perform miracles; He performs signs. For John, Jesus’ miracles are signs of his divinity. But in the Gospel of John, it’s not just His miracles that are signs: The Gospel of John is full of signs! For example, Jesus raises Lazarus from death (Gospel for the 5th Sunday of Lent this year) and is raised Himself from death. Other prophets could perform miracles, but no one had conquered death. Another one is Jesus forgiving sins: Who can forgive sins but God alone? Everything Jesus does or says, points to a deeper Truth.
John also continually refers to Jesus as the “son” or “The Son”, “son of man”, “son of God”, and “only son”. While these may not necessarily point to divinity, they point to a certain claim for the identity and function of Jesus: Jesus is the son of God. Another title for Jesus that John uses is “the one sent” (see John 5:24, 30; 10:36; and 12:44-45). For John, Christ is the special one sent by God.

The Kingship of Jesus is also a dominant theme in John: Jesus is King.

For John, the Cross is the enthronement of Jesus as King. The expression “lifted up” is used four times to refer to the crucifixion (John 3:14; 8:28; 12:32, 34), with the suggestion (in the original Greek) of the enthronement of a royal figure. The title placed by Pilate on the Cross, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” (John 19:19), as well as the discussion of kingship during the trial with Pilate (John 18:28-19:16), also point to the suggestion that Jesus is King. Finally, Jesus is placed in an empty tomb (John 19:41-42), just as a king would be. Two weeks ago, I mentioned John’s idea on the origin and destiny of Jesus: “In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1) and “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).
In addition to all of these themes, the “I Am” statements offer a clear sign of the relationship between Jesus and the Father and the divinity of Christ.
This coming Sunday’s Gospel has Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:5-42). They have a conversation about “living water”. Jesus offers her water: “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst” (4:14). I imagine Him saying to her, “I am living water.” But according to the Gospel, Jesus does not say that. It is not until much later, when they talk about the Messiah, that Jesus says to her:
“A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
The woman said, “I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” (4:23-26)
Two chapters before, Jesus had made quite a bold claim, “I am the bread of life.” I’ve written about this before.  Jesus makes it very clear what he means when He says that He is the bread of life:
“I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, and they died... I am the living bread come down from heaven so that one may eat of it and not die... Whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (See John 6:48-51)
It was so clear that afterwards people grumbled about what he said and “from this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (John 6:66).
They knew what He meant. Jesus is the bread of life. He is living water.
This week consider this:
What do you hunger for? What do you thirst for?
Jesus is the God who takes away our hunger and our thirst. Jesus himself is the very food and drink that we need. Jesus is the bread that gives us life, the bread and water that forever take away our hunger and thirst. Jesus fulfills our longing to be fed physically and spiritually. He fulfills this for us every time we open the Scriptures and receive the Eucharist.
Jesus, the Bread of Life, wants us to be nourished and fed. He also calls us to feed others as well.
This second week of Lent, let’s go and do as He has done.
And come back next week so we can look at each one of these seven "I Am" statements in more detail.

pedro
Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: pedro@saltandlighttv.org