Summary: This is the last in a series on the "I ams" from the book of John. This message looks at what it means to us that Jesus is the "Gate"
I am the Gate
I am. That’s what Jesus said. “I am.” Since June we have been looking at the various times that Jesus used the phrase “I am” to metaphorically describe himself. “I am the Way”, “I am the truth”, “I am the resurrection”, “I am the life”, “I am the bread of life”, “I am the light of the world”, “I am the Good Shepherd.” And on one occasion he simply stated “I AM’, a statement of existence that goes clear back to the Old Testament when God declared to Moses Exodus 3:14 God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.”
It is interesting that only John records these words of Jesus. It’s not that Jesus doesn’t use the words “I am” anywhere else in the Gospels, he does. As a friend of mine from Australia used to say “He’s not backwards about coming forward” at least not in sense of defining who he was and what he was like Matthew 11:29 “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
When the high priest demanded that Jesus answer their question in Mark 14:61 Then the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” He answered and said Mark 14:62 Jesus said, “I AM.”
And on different occasions Jesus said very clearly “I am the Messiah”. But it is only in the book of John that Jesus’ uses these metaphors to describe himself. Now Jesus didn’t use similes because as you are all aware a simile uses the word “like” make that comparison. Jesus didn’t say “I am like a gate” or “I am like a shepherd” he said “I am the gate” and “I am the shepherd.” A metaphor is much more forceful than a simile. But you knew that already.
But maybe you are wondering why John mentions these words but Matthew, Mark and Luke don’t? After giving it much thought my answer would be: “just because they didn’t”.
If four of you chose to follow me around for the next three years, from now until August 2015 and then each of you wrote an account of what I did and what I said each of you would attribute importance to different parts of the story. In the gospels we have concise accounts of Jesus’ ministry, if we had every word and every action that he did written down it would literally take up volumes of space. Which John echoes in John 21:25 Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.
And so the fact that only John recorded the times that Jesus used these metaphors probably isn’t all that surprising. Perhaps they struck a chord with John; maybe he was the only one who noticed the pattern.
When we moved back from Australia we noticed how many people were using the word “Paradigm”. Or for those of you who are hooked on Phoneics “Par-a-dig-m” I’m sure the word was used in Oz but just not in the circles that we ran in. And so we moved back and here was this new word being bandied around willy nilly and I had no idea what it meant. All I knew was that if I was going to accomplish anything in this new church it would only happen after I strategically analysed and shifted my paradigm while maximizing and leveraging our synergy. If you aren’t sure what a Paradigm is, don’t feel bad I’m not sure that the dictionary does either.
par•a•digm [par-uh-dahym, -dim] noun
1. a set of forms all of which contain a particular element, especially the set of all inflected forms based on a single stem or theme.
It wasn’t long after we were back that Angela and I were at a conference and one of the key-note speakers seemed to have fallen in love with word. But when I mentioned it to another pastor he said he hadn’t noticed. In a half an hour the speaker used the word “Paradigm” almost a dozen times, I know because every time he used the word we made a tic in our notes, until he caught us.
So perhaps it was only John who attached particular importance to these words that Jesus spoke, that he was the one who saw the pattern.
Last week we looked at the second part of this chapter and the phrase “I am the Good Shepherd” this morning we are looking back to the beginning of his teaching here. We had commented at how often Jesus used the everyday to illustrate the eternal. The everyday activities of farmers, fishermen and house wives because opportunities for Jesus to illustrate the Kingdom of God. .