19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” (John 6:19-20)
Through the Bible: John 6
One of the best-known features of the gospel of John is Jesus’ “I Am” statements. There are seven distinct “I Am’s” in the gospel:
- “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12)
- “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:35, 41, 48, 51)
- “I am the door of the sheep.” (John 10:7,9)
- “I am the good shepherd.” (John 10:11, 14)
- “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, 5)
The same Greek phrase is used in all seven of these statements:
Ego eimi: I am. Pronounced “ehGO eiMEE”
However, there are at least two bonus “I am’s” in John’s gospel as well. One of them is in John 8, as Jesus is arguing with the Pharisees:
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
The Pharisees were outraged by this statement, not because it was poor grammar, but because Jesus was explicitly identifying Himself with Yahweh. “I am” was God’s covenant name which He revealed to Moses from the burning bush (see Exodus 3:13-15). It was considered too holy to speak. Yet, Jesus is not only saying the Divine Name, He is claiming it and applying it to Himself. This was enough to make the Pharisees want to stone Jesus on the spot.
But before Jesus revealed Himself in this way to His adversaries, He revealed Himself as the I Am to His disciples. It’s right here in John 6, and it’s before any of the other “I am’s.” Jesus comes walking on the water toward His disciples. The disciples are terrified. And Jesus says to them “It is I, do not be afraid.”
In the Greek, “It is I” reads as ego eimi.
I am. Literally, Jesus says, “I am. Fear not.”
This isn’t the first time in Scripture “Fear not” and “I am” have shown up in such close proximity to one another. And it just so happens that the other time also involved being afraid while passing through water. In Isaiah 43, we read:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Isaiah 43:1-3)
Beloved, I pray this makes you marvel at the perfection of God’s Word. No word is wasted. Nothing is accidental. And every one of the 31,102 verses of Scripture aligns perfectly with every other one. The very existence of this book is miraculous.
But dear friend, don’t stop with wonder at the words. Instead, wonder at The Word made flesh who dwells among us (John 1:14)! Worship the Great I am who is:
- The Bread of Life that satisfies us;
- The Light of the World that guides us;
- The Door that opens to us;
- The Shepherd that leads us;
- The way, the truth, and the life that quickens us;
- The Vine that nourishes us;
- And the Resurrection that will raise us.
I am all those things, says Jesus. But before I am any of those things, I am simply I am. I am, who is with you in the middle of your fiercest storm.