What are the seven signs and seven “I am” statements in the Gospel of John.
In the book of John we find Jesus demanding that we believe He is the Christ, the divine Son of God that was sent from Heaven. He makes these demands by making many comparisons to Himself, and by performing miracles that display no only His presence and power, but the presence and power of God. The comparisons are proclaimed in the seven “I AM” statements of Jesus, and the acts that show Him as the divine Son of God sent from Heaven are shown in the seven signs of Jesus.
First, “I AM the Bread of Life” (6:35). Jesus tells us here that He is the spiritual food that we need. He relates Himself to bread to indicate that we must consume His teaching and His lifestyle if we are truly His disciples. Of those who do consume His teachings and His lifestyle, Jesus promises that these people would not be hungry and would not thirst – spiritually, that is.
Second, “I AM the Light of the World” (8:12). Jesus is the only true Light and accepting Him and following Him removes the darkness, such as sin and death, out of our lives. The light of Jesus represents His purity and His holiness. Throughout scriptures, we are commanded to walk in the light and John 8:12 tells us what light that is – His light. The light of Jesus gives us life and, according to Jesus, those who follow Him never have to worry about walking in darkness again.
Next, Jesus says, “I AM the Door” (10:7). Jesus is telling us here that He is the entrance – the entrance into a relationship with God the Father – THE ONLY ENTRANCE!! He is also the entrance into forgiveness, victory, holiness, heaven, and most importantly, salvation – THE ONLY ENTRANCE! Jesus Christ is the only door. There are no side doors, no back door, and no door of any other kind. Acts 4:12 says, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.” (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Fourthly, Jesus says, “I AM the Good Shepherd” (10:11,14). In the Old Testament books such as Zechariah, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah, we see God rebuking wicked shepherds. Jesus tells us here that He is the good Shepherd. A shepherd leads, feeds, and protects his flock, and that’s exactly what Jesus does to those who believe in Him and trust on Him. This “I AM” statement speaks of Jesus’ tender loving care and devotion for us, His people. A good shepherd is willing to die for his sheep, and so Christ, the Good Shepherd in John, the Great Shepherd in Hebrews, and the Chief Shepherd in Peter, was willing to, and did, die for His sheep.
Fifthly, Jesus said, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life” (11:25) Jesus is not telling us that we will avoid a physical death, rather promising us that He is the gateway to an everlasting life and fellowship with God in heaven. He is also telling us that He is the life and to not know Him means that one has no life. One can be physically alive, but spiritually dead and on their way to hell, unless they receive the Resurrection and the Life.
Next, Jesus says, “I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (14:6). Jesus concluded this “I AM” saying by stating that no one can come to His Father, but by Him. Jesus is the way to the eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before the beginning of time. (Titus 1:2) Jesus is the way because He is the truth, and He is the truth because He is the way. As God incarnate, He is life for all who believe in Him and accept His salvation to eternal life.
Finally, Jesus said “I AM the True Vine” (15:1). In the Old Testament, a vine represented Israel, God’s chosen people. (Isaiah 5, Jeremiah 2, and Ezekiel 19) Since Israel has rejected Christ, Christ becomes the whole vine, and those who believe in Him become branches. This means that we are not only connected to Him, but we are absorbed by Him. If we obey His commandments, we will bear fruit on our branches, fruit that will ultimately belong to the vine. It is reassuring to know that when we provide fruit, we prove to Jesus that we are His disciples, and we therefore glorify His Father.
The first sign listed in John is found in John 2:1-12 where Jesus turns the water to wine at Cana. Changing the water into wine symbolizes the replacement of Judaism with the gospel. John describes the water in terms of Jewish purification, and the wine as the grace and truth that comes through Jesus Christ. This miracle indicates that Jesus and His Word are the sources of all true blessings.
The next of the seven signs is found in John 4:43-54. This miracle shows the son of a royal official being healed from a near death illness. This healing from such a near death experience points to Jesus as the giver of physical and eternal life, and symbolizes Jesus as the way from eternal death to salvation.
The third sign is the healing of a lame man on the Sabbath at Bethesda, and is found in John 5:1-15. As Jesus passed by the Bethesda pool in Jerusalem, he saw a number of invalids. A man had been there for thirty-eight years. Jesus saw him and asked him if he wanted to get well. The man replied that he didn’t have anyone to put him into the pool (a pool that many of that time thought possessed healing power). Jesus told the man to get up, pick up his bed roll, and walk. The man was healed instantly. All of this occurred on the Sabbath. In performing this miracle, Jesus shows himself as Lord over the Sabbath, and as the co-worker of God the Father.
Fourth, Jesus feeds the five thousand in John 6:1-15, 25-69. This miracle, apart from the resurrection, is the only miracle that occurs in all four gospels. There were far more than five thousand people, for women and children were not counted in the number. This miracle points to Jesus as the life-giving bread from Heaven. He gives the bread and the fish used in the feeding as a representation of the bread of life, which is His flesh that He gave as the sacrifice for our sins.
Next, Jesus walks on water. This is found in John 6:16-21. This miracle shows Jesus as divine and shows His authority over the forces of nature and the entire created world.
In John 9:1-41 Jesus performs a miracle of healing a man born blind. Some Jews may have thought this man was being punished for sins he committed in a previous existence, or for sins that a family member committed. In the healing of the blind man, Jesus shows Himself as the giver of spiritual sight and the light of the world. Not only was this man healed physically, but more importantly, he was healed spiritually. However, the Pharisees that witnessed the sign refused to believe, and were therefore blind. They remained blind while the man who was born blind gained his sight.
Lastly, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead in John 11:1-44. It is fitting for this miracle to be last as it symbolized Jesus raising Himself from the dead. In this miracle, Jesus shows Himself as the Resurrection and the Life, and shows His power over death even before His own resurrection showed it. Just like Jesus raised Lazarus and Himself from the dead, He will also raise those who believe in Him to eternal life.
Throughout the book of John, we find passages that attempt to convince readers that Jesus is the Messiah and the Christ, as well as the divine Son of God sent from Heaven. These seven “I AM” sayings were written to re-instill that idea as well as give us a glimpse of the character, person, and purpose of the Messiah. The seven signs are given to re-instill the fact that Jesus is all-powerful, super-human, and God in the flesh. In doing so, John adequately portrays the authority that Christ has to teach, lead, and save us. These seven “I AM” statements and signs as a conglomerate represent Jesus and His wholeness and represent the benefits to those who believe in Him and trust their lives to Him.