Jesus’ Deity “I am”

Posted: October 6, 2011 in John

John 13:1-15 reads,
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father… Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him… When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

Before the last supper, Jesus decides to wash the feet of his disciples. He did this as an example, so that they would not think they were above serving. Soon after this Jesus will tell his disciples, “I am the way the truth and the life.” (English Standard Version 2008, 2054) What an amazing thing to take place. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things into His hands and that He alone was the only way to Heaven, yet He still chose to show us this great example of humility. He even chose to wash the feet of Judas, even though He knew Judas would betray Him for he said, “not all of you are clean.” (English Standard Version 2008, 2051) Jesus said that if He is “teacher and Lord” and He can wash feet, we should be even more willing to serve others. This washing also refers to our new standing with the Lord. Jesus said that if we already have had a bath, then we do not need to take another one. The Greek word for bathed is leloumenos (referring to the whole body being cleansed). This corresponds to our acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ into out hearts. Jesus said, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean…” (English Standard Version 2008, 2051) The second Greek word referring to the washing of the feet is nipses (meaning “wash”). Elmer Towns wrote, “the first washing is once and for all (Heb. 10:1-12), but daily sin needs confession and cleansing (1 John 1:9).” (Towns 2002, 132) In other words, those who have accepted Jesus have already “bathed” they now need only to confess daily sins or “wash”. Our standing with God changes when we except Jesus Christ as the way, truth and life. We no longer experience judicial guilt (a sinner who stands guilty before God) when we sin, now we experience personal guilt (when a sinner is convicted of sin) that we should seek forgiveness for. Thus, we need to “wash” daily.
John 13:31-38 reads,
When he (Judas Iscariot) had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him… Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

After Judas Iscariot had left the last supper, Jesus begins to tell the disciples that He is about to die. Jesus refers to this as being glorified, something that the disciples did not understand at this time. He leaves the disciples with the commandment “love one another”, something that John later echoed in his epistles. Simon Peter, the one who never really knew when to shut his mouth, told Jesus that he would be willing to go even to his own death to follow the Lord. Later, Peter would deny Jesus to a young girl.
John 14:1-7 reads,
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (Italics added)

Still in the same meeting, Jesus says one of the great “I am” saying being, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (English Standard Version 2008, 2052) This is my favorite “I am” statement. When I was a children’s director, I had a special project I called the fifth grade brigade. These children had to memorize several passages and maintain regular church attendance in order to stay in the program. One of the verses I had them memorize was John 14:6. I feel that this statement is Jesus’ greatest example of deity. The usage of “I am” is similar to the Greek translated Old Testament passages when God (Yahweh) is speaking. Leon Morris wrote, “ “I am” mostly represents the speech of the Heavenly Father or the Son (Jesus Christ).” (Morris 1989, 109)
When Jesus says, “I am the way,” that means that there cannot be another way. Not that Jesus somehow is showing us the way, but that he literally is the exclusive and only way. Some say that Christians are close-minded in believing this way, but Jesus does not give us another option. If the statement is to be translated literally, there is only one way to the Father, an exclusive way. If Jesus was a liar (or a lunatic) in saying that He was the only way to God, then we had better throw our Bibles away.
When Jesus said, “I am the truth,” it is saying that He is a reliable witness. He is showing His deity in saying that He is the only witness He needs to show the validity of His statements, though He is never the only witness. He is so closely tied with the Father that if we have seen him we have seen the Father, thus He is never alone in his witness. When questioned about His witness, Jesus told the Pharisees the following:
“Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.”

When Philip said, “Show us the Father,” Jesus responded, “whoever has seen me has seen the Father,” another example of His deity. (English Standard Version 2008, 2040) The God of the Old Testament and Jesus are one.
When Jesus said, “I am the life,” it is along the same lines of saying, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Not only is the Jesus the way to life (eternal) and the truth about life (eternal and temporary) He is the life (eternal). God never needed anyone to exist; we need Him to exist. John 1:1-5 and 1 John 1-2 read,
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us.

This shows us Jesus’ deity in all of creation, which was made through Him. He is the life, and all life came about through Him. This “I am” to me is the most important and shows the most deity for Lord Jesus Christ.

References
ESV study Bible: English Standard Version.. ESV text ed. Wheaton: Crossway Bibles, 2008.

Elwell, Walter A.. Evangelical dictionary of biblical theology. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker
Books ;, 1996.

Morris, Leon. Jesus is the Christ: studies in the theology of John. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B.
Eerdmans Pub. Co. ;, 1989.

Towns, Elmer L.. Theology for today. 2nd ed. Lynchburg, Va.: Elmer Towns, 1994.

Towns, Elmer L.. The Gospel of John: believe and live. Turnhout: AMG Publishers, 2002.

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