John's Gospel

The Way It Happened

John 4:26, The I AM

Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

//The Messianic claim behind this verse has been lost in translation; the word “he” has been added by translators. Actually, Jesus says simply “I am.” John will drill this phrase into us seven times (4:26; 6:20; 8:24, 28, 58; 13:19; 18:5), always as an expression of Jesus’s claim to be God, until finally, we relate it to the mysterious name of God given to Moses: I am that I am.

You won’t find this reference in any other Gospels—only in John—and in this Gospel, The Jews have no trouble recognizing Jesus’ claim to be God. During the Festival of Tabernacles the priests recited the divine formula “I am” from Isaiah, and at this festival, Jesus shows up and leaves no doubt of his meaning when he says, “Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am!” Immediately, the Jews take up stones to stone him for blasphemy.

In John, Jesus will never admit to being the Messiah in the traditional form expected by the Jews. He is far more than a military savior. He is … the I Am. With this divine claim fully established, John now methodically reveals the mystery of God with seven more “I am” statements:

I am the Bread—John 6:35

I am the Light—John 8:12

I am the Door—John 10:7

I am the Good Shepherd—John 10:11

I am the Resurrection and the Life—John 11:25

I am the way, the truth and the life—John 14:6

I am the true vine—John 15:1

If only we could approach this Gospel as if reading it for the first time! How exciting, how fresh and startling a revelation it is! How far beyond the first three Gospels John carries us!


  1. How far can one be carried? I find myself in reading John staying quite close to the other gospels. We too get to claim divinity as we are taught to be one with God even as Christ was one with God.

  2. I believe your understanding of divinity mirrors what John believed.

    But John is very different from the Synoptics. Only 8 percent of John is paralleled in the other three Gospels; 92 percent is unique. New stories, new teachings. So what is missing from John? Here are notes I’ve taken for my next book:

    There is no account of Jesus’s birth, baptism, temptation by Satan, ascension or transfiguration. No Gethsemane scene or other private prayer, no Last Supper with its sacraments, no Passover meal. Jesus performs no exorcisms, tells no easy-to-remember pithy stories or parables. He provides no eschatological discourse, no mention of returning on the clouds, and rarely makes reference to the “kingdom of God” with its military tone, instead substituting his terminology of “eternal life.” There is no formal trial before the Jews, no appearance before Herod, and no mockery at the foot of the cross. Jesus is nowhere to be seen on Good Friday. He is in the grave. Finally, he dispatches no evangelists until after the resurrection.

  3. You are correct in what you say. You could even add to your list of differences. What would be the purpose of a book included within the Bible that just repeated exactly what the others did? Why in general terms does this book have more of what it has instead of less? I do not know. Why do I get to hear a beaver one night and not the nex? I do not know. What I do know is that it is all there to speak to me about God.

    What I do know is that the Gospels, all of them are about the Gospel message and John is also a part of that Gospel message. He starts in John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Later we see that the Word was Christ and that we have the privelege of being one with Christ and God even as Christ had the privelege of being one with God.

    John then ends the book in John 21:25 “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” So John begins and ends a book about Christ, another Gospel. I see the similarity, you see the individual differences.
    Does it need to be exactly the same, of course not.

    Is there confusion to be had in examining the differences and trying to figure out why there are differences and what that means, of course. That just adds to the dubiousness of our understanding. To carry the idea to an extreme one could try to figure out why just one paragraph in each is different. None of the Gospels start with the same first paragraph or even structure their approach to the start the same. Why? No one knows. Do men want to know? Of course. Man wants to know everything. Is there wisdom in this approach. I do not believe there is. What I see is a confusion of beliefs or even just an increase in dubiousness. The Bible even states that this is what will come from mans attempt at knowledge and wisdom.

    I try to quiet myself and listen to God.

  4. Tim, I’m surprised to see you equate Jesus with God! I figured you more for the Synoptic tradition’s version of Jesus; those Gospels portray Jesus and God as separate entities. Matthew/Luke present stories of Jesus’ birth, they’re more interested in the Messianic promise, but John couldn’t be interested; John’s Jesus pre-existed eternally and came down from heaven from God.

    There really are a multitude of differences between John and the Synoptics. John may not have read Matthew or Luke, but in just about every point where he discusses a Markan story, he does so do contradict Mark, to set the record straight. I’ll be publishing a book about John in the next couple years, I hope you enjoy it!

  5. I am not sure what you mean with, “equate Jesus with God”? Are you confused just like the jews in John 8. Because they were trying to figure things out in there own way to fit what the wanted. They did want a military leader similar to David to bring the kingdom of Israel back to glory.

    Jesus and God are separate entities. Jesus said that He and God are one. It is also said that we can be one with Jesus and God also. I do not think that this equates us with God in at least one sense of the statement. But, when you love your children, what is the relationship of them to you when you are all of one mind?

    Just as I said in my previous comment the four Gospels are just that 4 Gospels. One is not about Buda or Mohamid or the Snake god. What I am trying to say is I understand that they are different Gospels. That is only part of the richness. The differences help with more of the details. The differences add to what we have. The Gospels all fit together just like the pieces of a jig saw puzzle. Not sure why you want to take them apart. Just like a jig saw puzzle the more you take them apart the more confusion their is. I suspect that for any book, especialy mysteries, would be confusing if you took one sentence away from the rest of the book.

  6. lol. ok, I confess, I don’t KNOW what I mean by “equate Jesus with God.” That’s the mystery.

    The other three Gospels agree with you that Jesus and God are two separate entities. Such a blasphemous idea never crossed the minds of these writers. Jesus and God talk to each other, sit beside each, separate from one another at the cross.

    But John is different. You said it yourself: “the Word was God.” And a bit later, we learn Jesus is the Word. The Jews understand Jesus’ claim clearly, and prepare to stone him for it. So does Thomas: “my Lord and my God.”

    The question is not whether or not Jesus is God (from John’s perspective) but HOW. HOW do we equate Jesus and God? From the attempt to reconcile the Synoptic Gospels with books like John and Revelation and Hebrews we developed the Trinity doctrine–a doctrine we STILL struggle to grasp, 2000 years later. We have two contradictory doctrines (Jesus is God, Jesus is not God) and in our clumsy attempt to treat both as scripture, we developed a doctrine that is so confusing we still throw up our hands and simply proclaim it a mystery.

    The problem with your jigsaw puzzle analogy is that the pieces DON’T fit together. We’ve picked out the pieces we like the best, from the various available writings and Gospels, and we’ve squeezed them together. The pieces we didn’t like, we squeezed out of the picture. Imagine how different Christianity would be today if we hadn’t accepted John into the canon? Or how different if we had accepted the Gospel of Peter?

  7. Ahhhhhh, sorry for the primal scream. My post was just eaten by the blog. I sincerely believe that I will not be able to write as good and clear an answer as I had done, in the now and forever eaten post. I shall have to just try.

    Lol. It is good to hear your laughter. I do not “KNOW” what I mean by “equate Jesus with God”. It is not a mystery.

    I am going to talk about oneness. I cannot define it. I do understand it. I am going to talk about it through examples.

    I believe those of us with a strong empathic nature get an opportunity of touching on the oneness sense better than most. There are two people that I have/had some oneness with. The one (my wife) is of the type that the Bible refers to, it is there specificaly to help us understand what oneness is all about. Still that oneness with ones wife is illusive and illusory.

    For true oneness, we must get into the heart and mind of the other and allow the other into our heart and mind. We need to love each other fully while being in full understanding and agreement. That is why the oneness of a wife and husband is illusive and illusory at best. Our understanding of each other can and should improve over time. It does not always and it is always fraught with problems. As we understand we do not always accept and what about AGREEMENT, ha! But, we do and can come to agreement and acceptance. It is an illusion to think we can totally understand each other and what we both want and agree. Some of what we want is not good. Anyway, I am beginning to stray. Suffice it to say: our oneness, the moments we feel as one are truly few and quickly passing. The are illusive, but wonderful.

    The other one I have felt a sense of oneness with is because of the love and easy sharing of a friend. It is great to know and accept another as they are and to sense a feeling of agreement between. But, it is not as deep a feeling of oneness as between a wife and husband. Again it is illusive, because as men we are prone to and become subject to our thoughts and the thoughts of men run a gamut. Thus as in this case; the different thoughts create a gulf, destroying the sense of oneness. Such as it was.

    Now Jesus had a sense of oneness with his Father. How perfect was His sense of oneness with His Father? We can track the progress of His sense of oneness with His Father. At an early age He knew He had to be about His Father’s business. Then He came to know He needed to be subjected to His natural family. Then He was approved of in all ways by His heavenly Father. He was one with God. More than we can ever achieve on our own. Still because He was a man it was even then illusive. He had to work to maintain that oneness. Of course the great example is the prayers of Jesus in the garden. Then in the greatest sacrifice He had to relinquish that oneness to experience having our sins on Calvary.

    This is the oneness that John helps us to see better. Without those puzzle pieces, the picture would not be complete. They only have trouble fitting when we try to define oneness. Man in his desire for knowledge tries to figure everything out. The Catholic church figured out a new idea of the trinity. They could define it, but it can not be understood. Oneness can not be defined, but it can be understood. We understand oneness by faith and through the natural examples put here by God for us.

    With the understanding of oneness the puzzle pieces all fit. None of the pieces are forced and the picture is complete, beautiful and wonderful. It is wonderful because in seeing it, we see what we get to enter into and taste a little of here on earth. The future is incredible.

  8. Great talking with you, as usual, Tim!

    I believe your language comes from John 17. Please note there is no mention of “oneness” with God there; it is oneness with the Father that Jesus pleads for.

    John’s Jesus will never communicate with “God” the way the Synoptic Jesus does. Only with the “Father.”

    A crude example is how you and your wife are one; yes, you have one marriage. You’re not one with the marriage, your marriage causes you to be one with your wife. It’s a crude illustration because no Trinitarian thinks of God quite like that, but the word play works.

  9. The Father is God. That is clear. It is only the trinity definition that has muddied and confused that. Therefore oneness with the Father is oneness with God. John’s Jesus and the Jesus of the other Gospels are the same person. There are just different things brought out or made clearer.

    It is not the marriage that makes us one. It is the living of the marriage to the best we can. As we are priveleged with some success in the endeavor, and it is an endeavor as difficult as some of the greatest historical endeavors, then we get to experience a taste of oneness. The tinitarians are missing the importance of marriage. There are many things done and shown in the Bible as types. There are examples of Christ and examples of the oneness. Gen 2:23-24; Mt 19:4-6 Do these verses mean that we are grafted together as one organism, such as the angler fish, of course not. The wording implies not the physical bonding, but the spiritual type of oneness that I clumsily tried to explain.

  10. Maybe you could provide a scriptural reference that identifies the Father as God. I have provided several that identify the Son as God.

    Not meaning to argue, just wanting you to grasp that the Trinity is scriptural; you may likewise point out from scripture that Jesus is not God, and choose to believe that instead. You won’t have any trouble finding such verses, so more power to you. But I feel it’s unfair to document the trinity as “false” or “wrong” on the basis of only the scriptures you choose not to ignore. That sort of criticism only serves to bring division between Christians.

  11. I do not need to find them, even as you imply by saying, “You won’t have any trouble finding such verses”. As always I am comfortable with you, in discussing, you and I do not tend to argue. I am not sure if we ever have. The reality is, there are divisions when it comes to religion. Even with the Sikhs, proffess, if I have this at all right :), that they are, hmmmm, in somewhat of agreement with all religions. That is that all religions are trying to serve the same God. It is just that they are separate in doing it right. Yet the Hindus, a sort of pacifist religion, and the Sikhs are very divided and often have killed each other.

    It is better to accept the division of religions, but not to deal with it by: war, anger, terrorism, or fighting. To accept is just that. There is not a need to change the other. There might be a want. I want all to serve God as I do. I do not need it. I only need to serve God myself. I rest in knowing that God wants all to serve Him.

    I need to be reminded of Elijah and his experience. He had a strong desire to prove to the people of Israel, God. He did to, but it did not accomplish much. Then God told Elijah that His plan was proceeding and there were many people serving Him, IKings 18:21 through IKings 19:18. I have learned some of how unwise I am. It is good to trust in the wisom and love of God. Elijah had to come to know God better and what his own role was.

    Catholics can find what they need to back their beliefs. Arguing, and even discussing when it comes down to it, is of little benifit when it comes to serving God. A good discusion is interesting and if there are; open, soft, and willing hearts. Then there is hope for all.

    It is only by faith that we can serve God and I cannot give another faith. I am only stating firmly what I believe in. If there is value in it to help another, good. If there is insult to another, I apoligize for any offense given. It is not my intent to offend. All others need to realize that one can only be offended, if they take the action of offense. I say this not for “The Dubious Disciple”. I know him and he knows me. It is doubtful that we could or would easily take or give offense to the other. This is for the others that might be reading the posts in this Blog. Thank you.

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