Growing up it was always a tradition in the Devenish house that the family dinner meal would conclude with a Bible reading and a prayer. Often it would be Dad doing the honours, though sometimes one of the kids would be nominated as well.
It was expected that some remarks would be made about the passage, so I found it wise to have something prepared beforehand in case I found myself in the hot seat!
Small but regular habits can build big things through sustained use, and I think I owe at least some of my familiarity with the Bible to these nightly reads. It is a tradition I have chosen to continue in my house, and though it doesn’t always happen, the effort so far has been very rewarding.
Recently we have been making our way through the book of John, and I have been struck by the many colourful analogies throughout that make it well suited to reading to my two young daughters. Jesus saying ‘I am the good shepherd’ makes for a very simple way to explain rich theological truth in a way they can engage with, especially when it includes images of cuddly sheep and exaggerated onomatopoeia!
In looking into it more, I have found that Jesus made seven ‘I Am’ statements in the book of John, which are as follows:
1. I am the bread of life
2. I am the light of the world.
3. I am the door of the sheep
4. I am the resurrection and the life
5. I am the good shepherd
6. I am the way, the truth, and the life
7. I am the true vine.
I haven’t attempted a series of articles on one theme before, but it seems the time for something new is ripe. I would like to spend some time and go through each of these statements one by one and see the truth it conveys and also how it relates to daily life.
Practical application of theological truth is often the hardest thing to implement. I know things in my head that never seem to come out in the way I live. But time spent in working out ways to apply God’s word is time well spent. And who can forget the warning of the Apostle James?
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James Chapter 1 verse 22)
The whole nature of deception is that you are unaware that it is happening – creepy! So how can I do what the Bible says? How can I relate the truth about Jesus into how I live? Exploring that theme will be the goal of this series. I hope you come along for the ride and it will be interesting to see where we end up!
For a final thought, it is good to be aware of the background of the statement ‘I Am.’ It is an incredibly powerful statement coming from Jesus that shocked his listeners. Why? Because it is how God introduced himself to Moses all the way back at the burning bush encounter.
“God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I Am has sent me to you.’” (Exodus chapter 3 verse 14)
When Jesus used those words to refer to himself, which he did not just in the seven ‘I Am’ statements but also explicitly on its own (see John chapter 8 verse 58 and chapter 13 verse 19) it was a direct claim to divinity. On one occasion, Jesus saying ‘I Am’ so incensed the crowd that they tried to stone him!
On that bombshell, I’m feeling peckish. I might go to the kitchen and forage for some jam and bread. Hmm. I think that might come up next time.
Thomas Devenish lives in Hobart, Tasmania with his wife and two daughters. He works as a motion designer and enjoys the diverse experiences life has to offer, from chasing tennis balls to curling up with a good book on a rainy day. Thomas Devenish’s previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/thomas-devenish.html