Iain D. Campbell (2011), I Am, Evangelical Press, 112 pages.
This book is based on the seven ‘I am…’ sayings of Jesus that are found in the Gospel of John. He is the bread of life; the light of the world; the door; the good shepherd; the resurrection and the life; the way, the truth and the life; and the true vine. His use of ‘I am’ was a claim to pre-existence and to deity, as his initial listeners realised. Therefore, when Jesus described himself as ‘I am…’, he was helping his listeners discover who he was and what he could do for them.
Dr Campbell explains in a clear and readable manner the significance of each title. As the bread of life, Jesus is necessary for us, suitable for us, available for us, and satisfying for us. Because he is the light of the world, Jesus can come into our darkness and show us the path to the endless day. Since he is the door, Jesus gives access to salvation and security against intruders. Being the good shepherd, Jesus finds, feeds, protects, cares for, and leads all of his flock. Given that he is the resurrection and the life, Jesus reveals his remarkable power and future intentions. Because he is the way, the truth and the life, Jesus stresses ‘the uniqueness and unprecedented and unparalleled nature of his work and ministry’. And as the vine, Jesus reminds his followers that fruit-bearing occurs through union with him.
The contexts of each of these statements is explained, especially their connections to Old Testament rituals, relationships or events. At the close of each chapter, there is a set of useful study/reflection questions connected to its particular focus.
The chapters are good examples of how to communicate information about Christ in a warm, wise and winsome way. Even though the book is relatively short, there is sufficient depth in it to lead readers to focus on Jesus in a fresh manner and to find out what he can give to those who trust in him. Perhaps you have already read other books on the ‘I am’ sayings and may assume that this book will have nothing additional to say. Even if that were the case, I would advise you to read this book because it should help you grow in your admiration for Jesus and in your gratitude for what he did for sinners. And is that not what the Christian life is about primarily?
It would not take you long to read this book. Yet I am sure that, having read it once, you would want to read it again, indeed several times, because it is full of truth about our Master. Indeed, when buying one for yourself, buy another for a friend so that they can enjoy it as well.