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Why are the I AM sayings so controversial? Exodus 3: 14 says God said to Moses, "I am who I am.

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Introduction

Why are the "I AM" sayings so controversial? Exodus 3: 14 says "God said to Moses, "I am who I am". This simple phrase became the name for God and was easily recognised by Jews. When Jesus says in the bible "I am", he is mirroring what God said to Moses and in this way calling himself God. Although the seven "I am" sayings; the true vine, the way the truth and the life, the door of the sheep, the bread of life, the light of the world, the resurrection and the life, and the good shepherd, are most well known, Jesus actually says "I am" twenty six times in John. Each and every time he says just the two words, "I am" he is reinstating, and reminding the Jews that he is the Son of God, and therefore God himself. Robert Kysar comments that "When Christ speaks, it is God who speaks". This was very controversial to Jews because they did not believe Jesus was the Son of God, and therefore it seemed he was blaspheming. When Jesus says "I am the bread of life", there are many reasons why it could be controversial to Jews. Bread had different meanings and symbolised various things in Judaism. Firstly bread reminds Jews of the Manna, the heavenly bread, which God sent them whilst they were wondering in the desert. ...read more.

Middle

In Hellenistic tradition light is often associated with God; God created the light in Genesis, and God guided the Israelites through the Desert as a pillar of light. Light also gives sight, and what comes from sight is truth. These things are associated with God, and so it is often the case that God is described as the light. By Jesus saying that he is "the light of the world", not only is he referring as himself to God, which is blasphemy, but also puts across a point that he gives the real truth. Jesus is showing that he has the real truth about God, which is that "the only way to the father is through me", John 14 :6. Just as light illuminates but also casts shadows, so too does Jesus' truth to the world. Where for some who accept it, it illuminates and saves, for others who do not accept it casts shadows of condemnation. Although Jesus does say that he has come "not to condemn but to save", it is inevitable that some will not accept and remain in condemnation. For the Jews this was very controversial as many studied the Torah closely and believed that they knew everything, and knew the truth. To challenge their view on the truth of God was very controversial. The "I am the door of the sheep", and "I am the good shepherd", give similar signs to who Jesus is. ...read more.

Conclusion

Through his life, death and resurrection, everyone has the opportunity to accept the eternal life offered to them. Jews believed that eternal life and righteousness was achieved through the law, but Jesus came to challenge this. He explained that the law was condemning them, and it was only through him that they could be righteous with God and have eternal life. This is explained in John 3: 16-17 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him". This of course was controversial to the Jews as the law to them was the most important thing, and they solidly believed that it was only through following this that eternal life could be earnt. The Jews associated wine, and the vine with the Passover meal. The Passover meal in itself was very important to Jews and the Jewish tradition. By Jesus saying that he was "The true vine", he is disregarding Jewish traditions, and explaining that he is the new Judaism, the new Israel, and the Embryonic Church. To the Jews this was very controversial as it suggested that Judaism was now no use to the people, and just as heard in the other sayings, it is only through Jesus that anyone can come to God. ...read more.

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