Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life, no-one comes to the Father except by Me. This was Jesus’ response to Thomas when he asked “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”. We understand that Jesus was with His disciples on the night before the Passover. He spent these final moments with the disciples preparing them for what the future holds for them. How truthful is this and what does Jesus meant when He made this announcement to his disciples?
In the Greek language, “I AM” is a very intense way of referring to oneself. It would be comparable to saying, “I myself, and only I, am.” The Gospel of John declares seven “I AMs” referring to Him in every aspect of the word.
I am the Bread of Life (John 6:35), I am the Light of the World (John 8:12), I am the Door (John 10:9), I am the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-14), I am the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25), I am the Way and the Truth and the Life (John 14:6) and I am the Vine (John 15:1-5)
Several other times in the gospels we find Jesus using these words. In Matthew 22:32 Jesus quotes Exodus 3:6, where God uses the same intensive form to say, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” In John 8:58, Jesus said, “Truly, truly I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am.” The Jews clearly understood Jesus to be calling Himself God because they took up stones to stone Him for committing blasphemy in equating Himself with God.
When the soldiers came seeking Jesus in the garden the night before His crucifixion, He told them, “I Am He” and His words were so powerful that the soldiers fell to the ground (John 18:4 – 6). When Moses asked God, “If Israel is to ask me of your name: What shall I tell them? And God says, “Tell them, ‘I AM’ has sent me. I AM WHO I AM, I will be who I will be, I will become who I will become!’” That’s what God told Moses which he in turn told Israel. These words reflect the very name of God in Hebrew, “YAHWEH” which signifies power and authority.
This way, Jesus used the definite article to distinguish Himself as “the only way.” Apart from every other belief, there is no other path to heaven, no other way to the Father. Peter reiterated this same truth years later to the rulers in Jerusalem, saying about Jesus, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12).
The truth, again Jesus used the definite article to emphasise Himself as “the only truth.” Psalm 119:142 says, “Your law is the truth.” Jesus said that He came to fulfil the law and the prophets (Matthew 5:17) and as the incarnate Word of God (John 1:1) is the source of all truth.
The life, Jesus had just been telling His disciples about His impending death, and now He was claiming to be the source of all life. In John 10:17 – 18), Jesus declared that He was going to lay down His life for His sheep, and then take it back again. He spoke of His authority over life and death as being granted to Him by the Father. In John 14:19, He gave the promise that “because I live, you also will live”. The deliverance He was about to provide was not a political or social deliverance (which most of the Jews were seeking), but a true deliverance from a life of bondage to sin and death to a life of freedom in eternity.
In these words, Jesus was declaring Himself the great “I AM,” the only path to heaven, the only true measure of righteousness, and the source of both physical and spiritual life. He was staking His claim as the very God of Creation, the Lord who blessed Abraham, and the Holy One who inhabits eternity. He did this so the disciples would be able to face the dark days ahead and carry on the mission of declaring the gospel to the world.
In Rarotonga today we see the name “I AM” posted on posts, plaques, walls, trees and even on vehicles, declaring that Jesus is indeed the “Great I AM”. Glory to God.