DAY 1 – John 6 – I Am the Bread of Life
If you are not familiar with the story of manna, consider reading Exodus 16 first, for John 6 parallels Exodus 16 with an incredible twist. In Exodus 16, God miraculously provides manna in the wilderness, a bread from heaven. It appears each day as a gift from God. The manna is also linked to Genesis 1 (creation story) and Sabbath. For 5 days, the manna is good, on day 6 the manna is very good (double portion) and the seventh day they are to rest with God and collect no manna. This whole rhythm was designed to teach the people to trust God every day. They were to trust that God would supernaturally provide in the wilderness each and every day. Furthermore, they were to trust God by resting with Him every 7th day. Of course, in typical human fashion, the gratitude quickly wore off and the people began to grumble about the manna – for they expected something different.
In John 6, Jesus does a miracle providing bread to feed the large crowd in the wilderness. At first they are grateful.But they quickly begin to expect and ask for more such miracles. At which point, Jesus begins to tell them that He is the bread from heaven. Those who come to Him will never be hungry and those who believe in Him will never be thirsty. At this point, the crowds, and even Jesus' own disciples are grumbling and complaining. Jesus is talking about being the bread that comes from heaven, but what they were expecting and wanting was more literal bread miracles. They are acting just like their ancestors in the wilderness complaining about the manna.
Jesus is making a profound statement here. I am the bread of life. He is the source of true life. When we believe in Him, when we take Him in to ourselves every day, we are given His life.
REFLECT / PRAY
- What does it mean to eat and drink Jesus?
- Take communion each day this week. As you do, give thanks for the reality of Christ within you and meditate on what it might mean for you today for Jesus to be your bread of life.
DAY 2 – John 8 – I Am the Light of the World
Light is one of the most importance images in the Bible and it is one of the central themes of John's Gospel. The biblical authors present God as light. Light represents the presence of God. And the presence of God gives life and understanding. In Genesis 1, notice that light is created on Day 1, all plant life is created on Day 3, yet the sun, moon and stars are created on Day 4. This seems like a very odd order of creation since plants require light. What is the message? That God's presence is the true light that gives and sustains life. This idea is carried through the entire Bible. God's Presence gives life, God's Presence brings healing, God's Presence gives revelation and understanding. The Book of Revelation ends with the city of God coming down from heaven and it has no need for the sun or the moon because God's Presence is in the midst of it.
Jesus does not just claim to be the light of the world, He also lives it out in word and deed. For example, right after Jesus made this statement (John 8), He then heals a blind man born blind (John 9). A man who had spent his whole life in darkness could now see light. The Light of the World brought healing to this man and pierced the darkness in his life. Not only could he now see, He also began to see who Jesus really was – something the others who had their natural sight could not do.
REFLECT / PRAY
- John begins his gospel as a retelling of Genesis 1. The primary images are life and light. Consider reading John 1:1-18 and think about what it means for Jesus to be the light of the world.
- What is your response to the light of the world today?
DAY 3 – John 10 – I Am the gate for the Sheep; I Am the Good Shepherd
You may think that you can have no leader, "I'll be my own leader." If you don't consciously choose a leader to follow, then you will subconsciously influenced by someone. You will be lead by someone. The idea that you can reject all leadership and be the one true leader of your own life is a delusion. You either make a conscious choice of who will influence you or subconsciously one is chosen for you. And these other influences are not always good for you and others. We are shepherded by our culture and by a variety of leaders within our society who range from imperfect to dysfunctional to destructive.
The biblical story of the human condition helps us to see that rather than having the ability to lead ourselves we often need to be saved from ourselves. We have dark places in our hearts. Many of our past experiences have shaped us in unhealthy ways. And we are very limited in what we know and understand. When we try to lead ourselves, we often just become slaves of our desires and our ignorance.
Yet, here we have Jesus, the incarnate Son of God. And He says "I AM the Good Shepherd." Jesus is a leader like no other leader. And when Jesus describes His leadership, He says:
- I know you. Jesus knows you completely. He knows you more than anyone else
- I lay My life down for the sheep. It is the sacrificial love of Jesus, more than anything else, that sets Him apart as the only one worthy of leadership
- Jesus has been given authority from God to lay His life down and to take it back. Because of His love motivated willingness to sacrifice for others, Jesus is given the ultimate authority from heaven – the authority to take back life from death. In other words, He has all authority on heaven and earth.
REFLECT / PRAY
- What would the world be like if we all submitted ourselves to the leadership of Jesus?
- Are there areas of your life that are not submitted to the leadership ofJesus?
- What might be one step you could make today to further submit yourself to His leadership?
DAY 4 – John 11 – I Am the Resurrection
This is certainly one of the more astounding of the I AM statements. One of the central ideas associated with God in the Bible is that He is LIFE. And all of the
"I AM" statements communicate something about the identity of Jesus as the source of all life. Earlier, Jesus had said, "I AM the Light" bringing back a flood of imagery from Genesis 1 and the creation of life.
Now, Jesus says "I AM the resurrection and the life." To appreciate the full weight of this statement, it helps to try and put yourself in the context. Jesus made this statement to a sister whose brother had recently died. If you have lost a dearly loved family member or friend, you know the incredible sting of death. In that moment, you do not need to be convinced that something is terribly wrong with this good world.
It is to this grieving sister that Jesus says "your brother will rise." The sister responds something like, "yeah, I believe in the resurrection too." Then Jesus says, "I AM the resurrection." He is the source of life. And Jesus is right there at that moment. And so He raises Lazarus from the dead.
Yet there is so much more happening in this story. When Jesus first heard about the death of Lazarus, He delayed a few days so as to increase the strength of the sign He would perform. If you read the story closely, you will also see that Jesus was well aware of how dangerous it was for Him to show up near Jerusalem. The religious leaders wanted to kill Him and if He went to Lazarus it would mean His death. In the previous chapter, Jesus had said that He is the good shepherd who lays His life down for His sheep. Later in chapter 13, Jesus will say, "Greater love has no one than this, that a person will lay down his life for his friends." And here we see Jesus doing just that – laying His life down so that He may raise His friend Lazarus from the dead.
Jesus is the resurrection. He will raise Lazarus, then He will be killed, and He will rise from the dead Himself.
REFLECT / PRAY
- What might it mean for you today that Jesus is the resurrection?
DAY 5 – John 14 – I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life
It is important to recognize the context in which Jesus made this statement. He was not on the street corner yelling this to the crowds. He said this to His disciples during the Passover Meal the night before His death. The passover meal was a significant meal that celebrated the Exodus and the covenant promises God made to the Israelites (Exodus 6:6-7; Exodus 20). The entire covenant made on Sinai is generally viewed as a sort of marriage covenant between God and the people of Israel. For this reason, ancient Jewish wedding covenants were modeled after Exodus 6:6-7.
Unlike modern wedding traditions, ancient Jewish couples did not set a date for their wedding after getting engaged. Instead, the groom was responsible for preparing the new home. And when the new home was ready, he would surprise his bride and announce it was time for the wedding ceremony and celebration. And after the celebration, the groom would take his bride back to the home He had prepared.
Jesus is using this wedding imagery in John 14 when He tells His disciples that His Father has many rooms in His house and that Jesus is going to prepare a place for them there and that He will come for them so that He can take them to this place He has prepared for them. One of the disciples, Thomas, says, "we don't know where You are going or how to get there." In other words, tell us where that place is and how to get there and we will get there too. If you think about it, this is the question that religious systems ask and attempt to answer. These systems attempt to define the destination and how to get there. The Pharisees thought that they way into God's kingdom was through personal piety and strict adherence to the laws of God in the Torah and the traditions.
Jesus responds, "I AM the way..." Have you ever been trying to find a place, and stopped and asked someone for directions and instead of telling you directions they say, "I'm going that way. I'll take you there. Just follow me." That is what Jesus does for us. He is not just telling us the way to get to God's Kingdom, He is the way.
In the same way, He does not just tell us about reality (truth), He is the ultimate reality behind all reality.
He does not just tell us how to live life, He is the source of all life.
REFLECT / PRAY
- Respond in prayer. Talk to God about how his name and presence affect your life, express gratitude for who he is, and simply enjoy this time of communicating with him
DAY 6 – John 15 – I Am the True Vine
John 14–17 must truly be considered the pinnacle of Jesus' teaching. After more than three years of ministry and teaching His disciples, Jesus is summarizing and highlighting and condensing everything He has been saying and doing. He is giving His disciples the "secret sauce," so to speak. Jesus weaves several key themes together in a beautiful progression that ends with a prayer to God encapsulating everything He just said. Jesus is weaving together themes of love, relationship, indwelling, abiding, the Spirit, obedience and trials and persecutions to paint this incredible picture that the trinitarian God (Father, Son, Spirit) is inviting you into their intimate relationship so that you can experience the life of love and power that produces good fruit that they have within the Godhead.
It is within this context that Jesus says "I am the True Vine." He is the One that we must be attached to if we are going to experience the substance of what God is inviting us into. The word that Jesus uses to describe this attachment is abiding. Another word might be dwelling. It captures the idea of making something your home. Our relationship with Jesus is our "home." Homes represent so much more than just an address or a location or a structure. A home is a place you feel comfortable and belong and look forward to living in each day. It is a refuge. It is a place you get to uniquely cultivate and call your own. It is defined by the people/family you share it with. It is a place where certain values are embraced and it is a place to share your happiness, joy, your material possessions and even your troubles and griefs with those you love.
Jesus said He is the True Vine – implying there are false vines – other sources that we attach ourselves to in order to find meaning, or to get power, or to get the fruit we desire in our life. Culture can be a vine. Networks, associations, influential people, societal groups, social media and many other things can be vines that we seek to attach ourselves so that we can get out of life what we want from it. Jesus thinks these are false vines. They promise things, yet in the end cannot give us the kind of life that God designed for us.
REFLECT / PRAY
Often when christians are asked, "what is the one word you think describes how God feels about you?" the most common answer is "disappointed." Which is understandable given an awareness of our own shortfalls. Except, it is not the message of the Bible nor of Jesus. The one word that best describes how God feels and thinks about you is love. If this is not the primary way in which you think about how God thinks about you, it might be an indication that you are not heeding the words of Jesus to abide in His love.
- a troubled heart
- an unwillingness or inability to follow His instructions
- a lack of power and/or lack of fruit
- a deficit of joy
- cannot discern God's will
- your love for others is not growing or getting cold
- you are being led into sin not away from it
- Think about your abiding life in Jesus. How strong is the attachment?
- What might be one or two things that you could start practicing on a regular basis to strengthen your abiding?