“Who am I?” Jesus’ “I am” statements in the Gospel of John

January 13, 2016
     The readings this week went through several transformations. First, I tried matching the seven “I am” statements made by Jesus in the Gospel of John with his seven “signs” in the same gospel. Here is my list, but I wasn’t pleased with some of my matchings (*), and there was so much overlap. Perhaps you have a better matching with these seven “signs.”
Bread of Life – feeding 5,000
Light of the world – healing blind man
Door – walking on the water (only answer left)*
Good shepherd – healing man at Pool of Bethesda (because Jesus found this lost sheep)*
Resurrection and life – raising Lazarus
Way, truth, and life –  healing official’s son in Capernaum*
True vine – changing water to wine
     I decided to email Madelon Maupin, a Bible scholar and Christian Scientist, who had mentioned this matching of Jesus’ I am words with his acts during one of her talks. She responded back that day(!!!) with some more insights:

What a wonderful reading.  I read that years ago and only matched a few, so I’m thinking about your list and really liking it.

The true vine — I might use the fig tree story when he denounces it going into the Temple (because it’s a comment on the non-productivity of the Temple.  And he now represents the New Israel — not ritual but demonstration.  (That might be obscure if people haven’t put that relationship together, however, of him going to the Temple and cursing it on the way, then showing the no leaves on the return – symbolic of the lack of fruition of the Temple.)

The ‘door of the sheep’ makes me think of every healing but especially the adulterous woman who was being hounded by wolves.  The ‘door’ of course refers to the way the shepherd literally put his body over the opening, to keep out the wolves, which is what he did with the adulterous woman.

The Good Shepherd could also include the calling of the disciples.  He was shepherding those who would carry the mission forward, constantly talking with them.  You could also use those passages when he explains parables to them that he doesn’t to the larger crowds, clearly identifying them as the ones to carry on so they must get the deeper meaning that the larger crowds might not.

I am the way the truth and the life — what about the encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well.

So, I decided to leave the matching up to you, with the Bible readings of the “I am” statements in the order that they are presented in the Gospel of John. I really liked doing it that way because it made a ladder (yes, I am still thinking of Jacob’s ladder) from the bread (and everyone wants God to supply their daily needs) to the difficult pruning of the vine.
     And speaking of pruning, I found it interesting that Jesus was “troubled in spirit” twice in the Gospel of John  —
1) when he saw Mary and the Jews weeping at Lazarus’ tomb, and
2) when he was talking about his betrayal after washing the disciples’ feet.
It makes me think that Jesus’ grief was pruning himself at Lazarus’ tomb (the Gospel of John’s Gethsemane struggle), and then the second time Jesus was pruning his 12 disciples (the Gospel of John’s betrayal by Judas).  But perhaps I am going out on a limb!