Monthly Archives: September 2016

Jesus’ Seven ‘I AM’ Statements in John (4)

psalm23

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)

In the last “I AM” statement, Jesus said He was “the door” – the only way into the sheepfold. We also learned that a porter guarded the door by physically placing himself across the entrance (John 10:3). In essence, the porter became “the door.” In the absence of a porter, the shepherd himself would perform this task making himself the door (John 10:9).

Now Jesus identifies Himself as the “Good Shepherd.” Previously, Jesus pointed out some general characteristics of a shepherd. The shepherd has rightful access to the sheep (John 10:2) because they belong to him. The shepherd knows each of his sheep by name, and the sheep know the voice of the shepherd, and they follow him as he leads them (John 10:3-4).

As the Good Shepherd, Jesus is also the Door of the sheepfold. The word picture presented here provides greater insight into His task as the Good Shepherd. As a shepherd cares for his sheep, he defends them with his very life. Any predator seeking to harm the sheep will do so only over the shepherd’s dead body. Jesus’ hearers may have recalled the account of King David:

And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. (1 Samuel 17:34-36)

Likewise, Jesus says, “the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

On the contrary, a hired hand has nothing invested in the sheep. When danger arises, he runs for his life caring nothing for the sheep (John 10:12-13). The Good Shepherd defends the sheep with His life because He cares for His sheep, knowing each one by name (John 10:14). As in verse 3, this assertion emphasizes the relationship between the Good Shepherd and His sheep. Indeed, it is likened to the relationship between the Father and the Son. “As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15).

By now the reader should recognize that “sheep” are analogous to God’s people. “For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day” (Ezekiel 34:11-12, emphasis mine). On another occasion, Jesus said:

What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. (Luke 15:4-7, emphasis mine)

The Good Shepherd gives up His life for His sheep.

Jesus addressed a Jewish audience who readily identified themselves with the Good Shepherd’s sheep, but then Jesus added another twist. “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John 10:16, emphasis mine). This must have confused Jesus’ hearers, but in retrospect, we understand that Jesus referred to the Gentile Christians that would be included later, after His resurrection and ascension. “They” would hear His voice through the work of the Holy Spirit and the preaching of the Apostles (John 15:26; 17:20-21).

For all of these the Good Shepherd gave up His life. All those within His fold can confidently say:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. (Psalm 23:1-6)

There is security in the Good Shepherd’s fold.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29, emphasis mine)

Then, just in case the “I AM” statement was not clear enough, Jesus said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). Jesus declared Himself equal to God. Indeed, He is God (John 1:1) To the Pharisees (and to many modern ears) such a claim was blasphemous. “Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him” (John 10:31). “This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them” (John 10:6). Not included in the Good Shepherd’s fold, they remained in their blindness (John 9:39-41), and failed to recognized that they were in the presence of the Great I AM, the Good Shepherd.

If you want entrance into the fold, you need to get to know the Good Shepherd.

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Jesus’ Seven ‘I AM’ Statements in John (3)

sheepfold

I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. (John 10:9)

This third “I AM” statement directly follows Jesus’ healing of the man who was blind from birth (John 9). That event was the sixth of seven signs highlighted in John’s gospel, which I will cover later. Jesus charges the religious leaders with incurable blindness because, in their blindness, they do not recognize their own blind condition. “Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth” (John 9:41, emphasis mine). It is true that before it is resolved, a problem must first be acknowledged. The alcoholic must acknowledge his alcoholism before he can work on the cure. The drug addict must recognize her addiction before she will submit to rehabilitation. A couple must admit their marriage is in trouble before they seek counselling. The blind must “see” their darkened condition before they will seek the light. The sinner must admit he is a sinner before he will seek the Savior.

To make His point, Jesus offers these spiritually self-blinded Pharisees a simple illustration obvious only to a spiritually sighted person. He draws a word picture of a sheepfold. This was a low-wall stone enclosure with only one entrance constructed for the protection of the flock from predators. After a long day of grazing in the pasture, the shepherd led the sheep to the sheepfold for the night. There, a gatekeeper or, “porter” (John 10:3), guarded the entrance where only the shepherd could gain access to the sheep. Jesus points out that a thief jumps the wall (John 10:1), but the shepherd enters by way of the door. The sheep recognize the shepherd’s voice and follow him, and he knows his sheep by name (John 10:3); but a stranger they will not follow (John 10:5).

As we read the account of Jesus healing the blind man in Chapter Nine, we find that the religious leaders, i.e. the false shepherds, aka “thieves,” harassed the healed blind man and the blind man’s parents to discover the source of his healing – on the Sabbath, no less! In the end, when the healed blind man identifies Jesus as the source of his healing, they excommunicated him for becoming a “sheep” of Jesus. (More on this on the next installment.)

Authorized entry into the sheepfold – the place of safety – comes by way of the only door. “Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7). “Verily” translates the Greek word amēn, meaning “truly” or “certainly.” The fact that Jesus said it twice makes it doubly and emphatically true. Then, unlike a common teacher, Jesus stresses His authority when He says, I say unto you, rather than “Thus saith the Lord.” He is Lord and speaks by His own authority. He then affirms His Lordship with His claim εγω ειμι (ego eimi – I, I AM) – the name of God. He is the door, the only authorized entry. No other way is permissible.

The porter guarded the sheepfold by placing his body across the entrance. Sometimes the shepherd himself was the “porter,” and he slept across the entrance. In effect, he was “the door.” Anyone wanting to get in would have to step over “the door.” Jesus says, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9, emphasis mine).

The sheepfold, an allegory of heaven, provides safety and refuge. Jesus places Himself at the entrance where no one can enter without going through Him. Today, many false shepherds – thieves and robbers – steal the sheep by deceiving them into believing that there are other entrances into the sheepfold. “They be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:14). In warning young Timothy, the Apostle Paul says, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come … evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:1, 13). Do not be deceived, little sheep. There is only one entrance into the sheepfold – heaven, and Jesus said, “I AM the door.” There is no other option.

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The Garden of Eden

Garden of Eden

And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. (Genesis 2:8)

The location of the biblical Garden of Eden remains a mystery that intrigues many. Recently I received an email from someone who thought he had it figured out. He writes:

I’ve been looking around the area of Iraq in the area where the Tigris and Euphrates river are and I found an area I wonder if it was maybe where the Garden of Eden was or where the Tree of life was. If you think of a garden it would be relatively small and it says that an Angel stood guard at the entrance. If it was here in this picture there is water surrounding the area except for one spot to go in and out of. Please tell me me what you think either way.

 The Euphrates and Pison (possibly the Tigris) are only two of four rivers named whose source was the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:11-14). This is reminiscent of the two rivers described by Ezekiel as flowing from the Millennial Temple (Ezekiel 47:1-10 ff.), or the river that flows from the throne of God described in Revelation 22:1.

The Garden of Eden was the place where God met and enjoyed fellowship with man. Throughout Scripture, we see images of similar places, e.g. Mt. Moriah where Abraham offered up Isaac (Genesis 22), which later became the site of Solomon’s Temple, Mt. Sinai where God met with Moses and later gave the Law, Mt. Zion where the Temple was built and where the final Temple will be built, i.e. the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Keeping this in mind, it is very possible that the Garden of Eden was actually in the area of Jerusalem. Throughout Scripture, God names Jerusalem as His special place (1 Kings 11:36; 2 Chronicles 6:6; Nehemiah 1:9). It is also noteworthy that Jerusalem is near the geographical center of all the land mass of earth.[1] Prior to the Global Flood (Genesis 6-9), it is thought that only one super continent (Pangea) existed, and it seems reasonable to think that the Garden of Eden was at the center of the land mass – again, keeping it in the general location of where Jerusalem now stands.

We must also keep in mind that the Global Flood radically changed the topography of the pre-Flood world. Therefore, what existed before, no longer exists. In other words, the rivers mentioned in Genesis 2 are not the same rivers that exist now. The current Tigris and Euphrates rivers were named from the memories that the Ark passengers carried from the previous world. The bottom line is that we cannot know with certainty the location of the Garden of Eden. I suspect that the Garden of Eden was where Jerusalem now is, but I would not bet my next paycheck on it.

Notes:


[1]  Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., “The Center of the Earth” http://www.icr.org/article/50.

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Jesus’ Seven ‘I AM’ Statements in John (2)

Light of the World

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12)

This second “I AM” statement directly follows Jesus’ encounter with the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-12). Jesus came to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:1-13), and was soon confronted the “Jews” who constantly sought to catch Him in a fault.

On this day, they brought a woman “taken in adultery, in the very act” (John 8:4) on the pretext that they sought His counsel on how to deal with the matter. The Mosaic Law gave clear direction for dealing with such matters: “the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death” (Leviticus 20:10). Little did the Pharisees realize that they stood in the presence of the One who wrote the law. Their arrogance blinded them to their oversight of a major detail in their accusation. Where was the adulterer? They had no desire for justice. “This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him” (John 8:6).

Jesus seemingly ignored their request and proceeded to write something on the ground. Many have speculated about the content of His writing, but we really do not know what He wrote on the ground. Perhaps He was writing the names of all those present that had consorted with this very woman in the past. Maybe He wrote down each man’s name and listed each man’s sins – He would certainly know. In any case, they became impatient and pressed Him for a verdict. “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground” (John 8:7-8). John notes that each was convicted by his own conscience and left one by one beginning with the oldest to the youngest. Apparently, the longevity of the oldest allowed for the accumulation of greater sins.

They all left Jesus alone with the woman. “Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?” (John 8:10). Not one remained. “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:11, emphasis mine). Often overlooked is the fact that Jesus did not excuse the woman’s sin of adultery. Perhaps selling sexual favors was her only means of support. We do not know, but Jesus did not excuse or accept her behavior. He forgave her – as only God can do – but He identified what she did as “sin” and charged her to stop sinning – “go, and sin no more.”

Evidently a crowd had gathered and witnessed the event. “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12, emphasis mine). Again John uses the Greek phrase, egō eimi, which literally means “I, I am.” Eime suffices to get the point across. For example Matthew records Jesus’ words: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:29, emphasis mine). In this case, a simple eimi makes the point. John also uses the simple eimi when appropriate. For example, in the previous chapter he records: “Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not. But I know him: for I am from him, and he hath sent me” (John 7:28-29, emphasis mine). Twice in these two verses, John simply uses eimi. (By the way, the “I am not” that I did not emphasize is the single Greek word ou, which simply means “no” or “not.”)

When John uses egō eimi, he emphasizes the deity of Christ. (See last week’s post.)[1] “The Light of the World” identifies Himself with the Creator. “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (Genesis 1:3, emphasis mine).  Our Lord Jesus Christ “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:16, emphasis mine). “The Light of the World” was not created as might be inferred by a strict reading of Genesis 1:3.

“Light,” the most basic form of energy, is mentioned specifically, but its existence necessarily implies the activation of all forms of electro-magnetic energies. Light was not created, since God Himself dwells in light. On the other hand, He created darkness (Isaiah 45:7).

The existence of visible light prior to the establishment of the sun, moon and stars (Genesis 1:16) emphasizes the fact that light (energy) is more fundamental than light givers. God could just as easily (perhaps more easily) have created waves of light energy as He could construct material bodies in which processes function which generate light energy. The first is direct (since God is light!), the second indirect. For the creation of such light generators, see note on Genesis 1:14.[2] (Emphasis mine)

“The Word of God (John 1:1) speaks in Genesis 1:3. The result is light …”[3] Jesus is the light. “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:4-5). Light displaces darkness, hence Jesus says, “he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).

I know a young man who was once exposed to The Light, but he turned his back to “The Light of the World” preferring rather to follow the “enlightened one,” Buddha , the dead and darkened one. His state now is worse than had he never known The Light. “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame” (Hebrews 6:4-6, emphasis mine). “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19, emphasis mine).

Jesus, the Word of God, the “I AM,” said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12, emphasis mine). “But as many as received [the light of the world], to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12, emphasis mine). If that is so, “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness” (1 Thessalonians 5:5). If that is not the case, “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts … (Hebrews 3:7-8). Come to “The Light of the World,” and be truly enlightened.

Notes:


[1]  https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/08/28/jesus-seven-i-am-statements-in-john-1/

[2]  Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Henry Morris Study Bible, (Green Forest, AR, Master Books, 2012), 8. Accessible online at http://www.icr.org/bible/genesis/1:3/.

[3]  Ibid.

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