This week we are memorizing:
Do not use Yahweh your God’s name as if it were of no significance.
58 “I assure you,” Jesus replied, “before Abraham was, I Am.”
John 10:7, 9, 11
7 So Jesus spoke again, “I assure you that I am the gate of the sheep.
9 I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
In seven places in John’s gospel, Jesus used the words “I AM” about himself. These were loaded words, a likely parallel to Yahweh, the divine name God taught Moses and the Israelites. In John 8:53, Jesus' opponents asked, “Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus’ striking reply was, “‘I assure you, before Abraham was, I Am.’” His hearers tried to stone him for that! “I am the good shepherd” was equally bold. It evoked God’s response to the failure of Israel’s spiritual shepherds in Ezekiel 34:11: “Yahweh God proclaims: I myself will search for my flock and seek them out.”
- In John 8:58, “Jesus claims to be God (John 1:1, 18), the God of Israel (see Exodus 3:6, 3:14, cf. Deuteronomy 32:39, Isaiah 41:4; 43:11, 25; 45:18-19, 51:12, 52:6).”* The more we study, the more we realize that Jesus used words carefully. In Mark, we read, “The high priest asked, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the blessed one?’ Jesus said, ‘I am.’” (Mark 14:61-62) Reflect on the magnitude of the claim Jesus made in those various settings. That’s not the sort of thing a sane moral teacher who knows he’s just human says. Do you believe Jesus’ claim? Why or why not?
- When Jesus said “I Am the gate,” he also pictured a physical reality for those who watched over sheep. Scholar N. T. Wright noted, “In many Eastern sheepfolds, the shepherd lies down at night in the gateway, to stop the sheep getting out and to stop predators getting in. Here Jesus seems to indicate the way in which the shepherd keeps the sheep safe, and, like God himself in Psalm 121:8, watches over their going out and their coming in.”** In what ways has Jesus been “the gate” who offers you spiritual safety?
Lord God, you taught Moses your eternity and power in the Hebrew name “I Am.” When you became flesh in Jesus, you again called yourself that. You pledged that I can be your child, and I’m thankful that I am. Amen.
* J. Ramsey Michaels, study note on John 8:58 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 189 NT.
** N. T. Wright, John for Everyone, part 1. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2004, p. 150.
Want more reflection on today's GPS?
Darren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 7th-grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group and a men’s group, and serves on the curriculum team.