Sometimes the most memorable experiences with the scriptures come from having patterns suddenly stand out to you while you’re reading. For example, did it ever strike you how often the Gospel of John mentions that Jesus said the words “I am”? When Jesus said this, He was usually making a comparison in order to teach people who He is and what He does for them. Look closely at some of these comparisons, and you’ll learn a lot about the Savior.
The Bread of Life
“I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. … I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever” (John 6:35, 51).
The Feast of the Passover commemorates the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt and includes the eating of unleavened bread. As this celebration drew near, Jesus performed the miracle of feeding the 5,000. Many who saw this miracle followed Him because He had given them food, so He taught them to seek for the food “which endureth unto everlasting life” (John 6:27). He then taught them about manna, reminding them that it came from heaven to feed the Israelites in the wilderness. He declared, “I am the bread of life,” telling them of the spiritual nourishment Heavenly Father sent through Him, as well as the promise of eternal life He brought.
At a later Passover feast, Jesus used bread to signify His body as part of the sacrament. When we partake of the bread each week during the sacrament, we are reminded of Jesus Christ—His sacrifice, His Resurrection, and the promise of constant spiritual nourishment through the companionship of His Spirit.
The Light of the World
“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Jesus called Himself the Light of the World at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles. Each night during this feast the temple lights were lit to symbolize the Light of God, which is sent out to the world. John declared that Jesus “was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). And through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord revealed that the Light of Christ “is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings” and which “giveth life to all things [and] is the law by which all things are governed” (D&C 88:11, 13).
Our minds and spirits are illuminated through Jesus Christ. His light guides our path, helping us tell the difference between good and evil and showing us the way to eternal life.
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Jesus compared Himself to the main vine of a grapevine. This main vine not only keeps the whole plant rooted to the ground, but it also nourishes all of the smaller vines, which branch off from it and bear fruit. Jesus Christ is our anchor of hope and our source of spiritual nourishment and growth. Through Him we gain the strength we need to live righteously and perform good works. He is also the foundation of the Church and the source of its authority to preach the gospel and branch out into all the world.
The Good Shepherd
“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine” (John 10:14).
The main duties of a shepherd are to lead the sheep to food and water and to return them to the safety of the fold. A shepherd also protects the sheep from dangers such as wild animals and thieves. Because he knows his flock, he can tell when a sheep is missing, and then he goes to find it. His sheep are submissive to him and trust him completely.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, calls out to us when we stray, and if we learn to heed His voice, He leads us to the safe pastures of salvation and eternal life, protecting us from the dangers of death and sin.
“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).
In a way, simply by saying, “I am,” Jesus said it all. With this, He declared that He is the Creator of the world and Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament, whose name literally means “I am” (see Exodus 3:14).
Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah and Savior, who saves us from sin and death. Because of who He is and what He did for us, we can have everlasting life and become who we are meant to be.