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John 4:26 & John 6:35 by Robert Dean
"Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head" Who is this babe in the manger and what did He do that causes millions to celebrate His birth each year? Some say He's a good man and a great teacher, but Jesus said He was God. Listen to this lesson to learn that either He is God as He declared Himself to be or He is a fake religious leader and no more than a liar. Find out how Jesus used the title "I Am" many times when referring to Himself and that this is a title for the Eternal God. See that He came to earth to die for the sins of all mankind and by believing in Him we can have eternal life.
Series:Holiday Specials
Duration:51 mins 41 secs

What Child is This?
John 4:26; John 6:35

As we look at Christmas and think about what we are celebrating, often today we lose sight of just who Jesus is. As our culture has become more secularized it has become more antagonistic to Christianity and the Bible and people come up with all kinds of interesting ways to rationalize their opposition to Jesus. Then, when you ask them questions about Jesus they often come up with the inane little responses that show very little thought whatsoever. You ask them what they think of Jesus. Who was He? Why do we even think about celebrating His life? They might say He was a good teacher, or some sort of spiritual innovator or reformer.

I have been reading a book recently by a Jewish archaeologist on the archaeological backgrounds to the last week of Christ, and he has an interesting take. He thinks that Jesus was a disciple of John the Baptist. But the problem that we have with anybody who says Jesus was a good teacher is that if you turn around then and reject what it was that Jesus taught, how could He be a good teacher if you think that what He told was wrong? He made claims that He was God and that He was the only way to God, so how could He be a good teacher if He taught was wrong? Other people say that He was a good example who teaches us how to live. Good examples don't necessarily hang around with prostitutes and ax collectors and various other drunks and dirty politicians that Jesus hung out with. Other people think that He was a religious fake, but fakes don't rise from the dead. There are a lot of different views of who Jesus was but the only one that really matters is the view that He claimed that He was eternal God.

The other night we started this short series on Christmas this year, and I focused on the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6 NASB "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." This child that was born as a human is then titled and labeled as God. That reflects the prophecy from just two chapters earlier in Isaiah 7:14 and cited in Matthew chapter one that a virgin would conceive and give birth to a child, and that child would be called Immanuel, which in the Hebrew means, "God is with us". It is difficult to mistake the claim in Scripture that the Messiah who was prophesied and promised would also be eternal God and that when Jesus came He claimed to be God again and again and again; and often in ways that seem rather subtle to us—and we miss them because they don't stand out in an English translation.

John chapter four is an interesting chapter. It takes place in the area of Samaria. Jesus has been in Jerusalem and it is near the beginning of His three and a half year ministry. He has had His conversation with Nicodemus and He is going to leave from Judea, which is in the south, to go to His home in Galilee at Capernaum. But unlike the normal operational travel of Jews of His day who wanted to avoid any contact with the Samaritans He did not leave to cross the Jordan and to go up on the east side of the Jordan. He purposed to go north through the middle of Samaria.

The Samaritans were a mixed breed people; they weren't Jews anymore. Remember from the Old Testament that because of Solomon's disobedience God said He would split the kingdom. There was a tax revolt, the ten northern tribes separated to the northern kingdom of Israel; the two southern tribes were the southern kingdom of Judah. The northern kingdom was destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 BC. Part of the Assyrian modus operandi at the time was that when they conquered a territory was to resettle the indigenous population to other areas of the Assyrian Empire and take to take other ethnic groups from other parts of the Empire and move them there in order to prevent insurrections or civil disturbance. They took the Jews who had survived the invasion of the northern kingdom and moved them out and resettled them in different places all over the Middle East. Then they brought other groups in to resettle the area in Samaria and as they intermarried with the Jews who were left it developed a half-breed type that were looked down upon by the Jews who would have nothing to do with them.

The Samaritans even developed some of their own religious traditions. They didn't accept any of the Old Testament except the Pentateuch; they rejected the temple in Jerusalem and said the only viable temple was to be on Mount Gerizim, which was located by the town of ancient Shechem. But ancient Shechem no longer existed. There was a new town that developed just to the north of Shechem called Sychar, the sight of Jesus' conversation with the woman at the well. Actually they weren't in Sychar itself, they were about a mile south at the location of Jacob's well.    

Jesus had sent the disciples into the town to get some lunch and while they were gone a women came to get water. John 4:7 NASB "There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, 'Give Me a drink' … [9] Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, 'How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?' (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) [10] Jesus answered and said to her, 'If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water'."

"If you know the gift of God …" Right away He focuses on grace. Whenever we see the words gift or giving in Scripture when God is the one who performs the action, it is always telling us about God's grace. God's grace is unmerited favor, undeserved kindness from God. Scripture says, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turn every one to his own way …" That is sin. This is what is proclaimed from Genesis chapter three, all through the Torah, all through the Old Testament: that every human being is a sinner. Isaiah said that all of our works of righteousness are just filthy rags. We can't measure up to God's standards. The only way we can is if God provides that for us as a free gift. So Jesus is talking about this free gift. 

The point that He is making is that we need to understand who Jesus is. The woman at the well needed to understand who Jesus is. We come to Christmas and we need to understand who the child is that is in the manger. Who is this that we are worshipping and celebrating at this time of year? So His focus to the woman is to understand who He is. Like many unbelievers she is just focusing on her physical, surface need of water. 

John 4:11 NASB "She said to Him, 'Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water?'" She is focusing on the fact that He is offering her something that is a little different but she is not sure what it is. Then she asks: [12] "You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?"

John 4:13 NASB "Jesus answered and said to her, 'Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again'…' This is just going to satisfy your physical need. [14] '… but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life'." Notice the use of the verb give. It is freely given, there are no strings attached; you just have to ask for it. He is using the imagery of drinking as an image to teach faith. Eating and drinking in the Bible are often used as a metaphor for faith, because when we eat of something we are accepting it into our bodies; and that is another way of talking about faith.

John 4:15 NASB "The woman said to Him, 'Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw'." She doesn't want to walk up and down this hill anymore. She has to do that three or four times a day.

John 4:16 NASB "He said to her, 'Go, call your husband and come here'." He still asks questions. Notice the process where He is trying to expose for her to help her understand her need. [17] "The woman answered and said, 'I have no husband.' Jesus said to her, 'You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’;

[18] for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly'."

The fact that He says this indicates His omniscience. She is not completely dense; she understands that for Him to know that He is possibly a prophet. [19] "The woman said to Him, 'Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet'." Now she is going to get into some theology. [20] "Our fathers worshiped in this mountain [Gerizim], and you {people} say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." She is going to the heart of the disagreement between the Samaritans and the Jews. Each one is saying they have the right word from God.

John 4:21 NASB "Jesus said to her, 'Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father'." He is saying this is not a significant issue. He was not going to get caught up in that debate. [22] 'You [plural] worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews'." They "do not know"; they have rejected most of the Old Testament. "We worship what we know" – why? Because they know the text of the Old Testament and accept that. Then He gives the principle: "for salvation is from the Jews," not the Samaritans.  

John 4:23 NASB "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth …" That should be understood as "by means of the Spirit [Holy Spirit; looking forward to the coming of the church age], and "by means of truth", i.e., according to the standards of God's Word. "… for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. [24] God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" – by means of the Spirit and by means of truth.

Here is where we get to the focus of the conversation. John 4:25 NASB "The woman said to Him, 'I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us'." Did you catch the mention of Messiah in the previous conversation? Not at all. She is perceptive though, and as He is talking about the future and the Spirit and truth she is connecting the dots back to something she has learned from the Old Testament. So immediately she is focusing on the Jewish hope of the future kingdom. Then Jesus answers, and this is the important thing that I have been heading to. This is where we learn about Jesus' claim to be God. John 4:26 NASB "Jesus said to her, 'I who speak to you am {He.}'"

You will read this in any English translation and they all distort the Greek, with one exception, the Holman Christian Study Bible. There is no object. When Jesus says, "I am" everyone translates it with a "he" in there. There is no 'he' in the original. Holman got it pretty close, except they left the 'he" in there. Jesus isn't saying, "I am He", He is saying, "I am". This is loaded with significance. He is identifying Himself as God.

This takes us back to the Old Testament. In Exodus chapter three God appears to Moses as a burning bush. He is telling Moses that He is commissioning him to go to the Pharaoh and to deliver the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt. Moses is kind of reticent to do this. He is not so sure he wants to go back to Egypt and he asks, "If I go there, how are they going to know that I am coming from you?" So God gives the answer in Exodus 3:14    NASB "God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM'; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you'."

In that passage God identifies Himself by this phrase, "I AM THAT I AM".  This is the Hebrew word ehyeah, which means "I AM". It is a first person singular of the verb that means to be or to exist, the self-existent one. That is how God is identifying Himself—the eternal self-existent one. His proper name in Hebrew is Yahweh. The Greek translation of that is the phrase, EGO EIMI—"I AM", and that is what Jesus uses.

It is well known among pastors and students of the Gospel of John that there are seven great I AM statements in that Gospel. You can look in almost any commentary on the Gospel of John and there will be a chart of a list of the great I AM statements of Jesus. But they all miss this one. I've always missed this one. Because every translation takes the relative clause that you read there, "I who speak to you am He", and put it between the pronoun and the verb. In the Greek it is not between the pronoun and the verb. In the Greek it literally reads: "I AM".  So I have translated that to catch it, "Jesus said to her, I AM, the One who speaks to you". He has made a declaration of His deity right there by using that phrase, I AM.

If you don't understand that, just turn over to John 8 where there is a famous interchange between Jesus and the Pharisees. John 8:54 NASB "Jesus answered, 'If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; [55] and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you …" He did not read anything about how to win friends and influence people!  "…but I do know Him and keep His word.  

John 8:56 NASB "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw {it} and was glad." That grabs their attention. [57] "So the Jews said to Him, 'You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?' [58] Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM'." Past tense: "Before Abraham was, I AM" The implication of that was that He is saying, "I AM God, I am the eternally existent One, I was there before Abraham existed." They understood exactly what He said because in their reaction [59] "Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple."

So when we go back to John 4:26 where Jesus was talking to the woman at the well He is making a claim that He is the Messiah and he is God. It was understood by the Jews in the first century that the Old Testament was messianic, the Old Testament predicted a Messiah, the Old Testament predicted a Messiah who would be God. Judaism that was reconfigured and remade after the destruction of the temple tried to de-messianize and remove the Messiah from the Old Testament. They weren't very successful for almost a thousand years and then they finally hit on a few ways to do that, and some of that leaked over into Protestant Christianity. Today there are some Protestant theologians who say they aren't real sure that they can find any messianic prophecies in the Old Testament. But Jesus would disagree with them.

So the first thing that Jesus tells us about who He is, is in John chapter four. He is claiming to be God. He says, "I AM".

One of the other statements that Jesus makes related to His identity is found in John 6:48, 51 where Jesus states that He is the bread of life. John 6:35 NASB "Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst'." He is speaking to the crowd He had fed the day before. If you feed somebody they will follow you around forever. Then in v. 48 He again reminds them: NASB "I am the bread of life." Then in v. 51 “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”

Each time He says, I AM, He is using that same phrase that we saw in John chapter four. He is making a conscientious claim to deity using that phrase, and they understand that. So let's look at His claim to be the bread of life. 

In John 6:1-14 we have the episode of Jesus feeding the five thousand. There were probably quite a few more there because it says in v. 10 that He was feeding 5000 men. So that is not counting the women and the children that are there. This crowd could have been anywhere from 10-15,00 people and Jesus is going to feed them from five loaves and two small fish. Jesus is going to supply their physical needs but He doesn't want to get involved in the fact that they have a different agenda than His. John 6:15 NASB "So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone." They have a political agenda and He is not going to go along with that.

John 6:22 NASB "The next day the crowd that stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other small boat there, except one, and that Jesus had not entered with His disciples into the boat, but {that} His disciples had gone away alone." The people followed Him. Once you feed the masses they will constantly be coming back for more. This is a problem with the welfare system as we have it. Once you start giving people free food they quit thinking for themselves, they lose all motivation and they don't want to better themselves; they just want more and more and they start deifying the government.

John 6:26 NASB "Jesus answered them and said, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled'." Jesus understands people very well. You are not here for me, you're not here for spiritual truth; you are here just because I fed you. [27] "Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal."

Notice how Jesus transfers from talking about a present event to bringing in a future significant event through the use of the title Son of Man. Son of Man refers to His messianic role as revealed in Daniel chapter seven—that He will come to bring the kingdom. The problem that the Jews of His day had is that they did understand the kingdom but they wanted the crown before the cross, and the pattern for the Old Testament was that the Messiah had to suffer before He would reign. So Jesus has to straighten them out and He said, "You need to work for the food that endures to eternal life."  

John 6:28 NASB "Therefore they said to Him, 'What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?' [29] Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent'." What is the issue here? It is not work; He transfers it to belief. The issue for salvation is faith; it is not doing something. You don't earn salvation, you simply accept it, you believe on it. This is what Jesus focuses on.

John 6:30 NASB "So they said to Him, 'What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform?'" They get it. He is telling them that they need to believe but they don't want to believe. They have already rejected this great sign. He just fed 10-15,000 people the day before from five loaves and two fishes and now they are saying we need a really great sign form you. A lot of people believe that if Jesus would come back and perform a few miracles everybody would convert. They haven't read their New Testament! That is not what happens. Jesus showed up and performed a few miracles and they put Him on a cross. They didn't believe Him. They understand what the issue is though, that it is faith, but they are rejecting that. What they are connecting this to is an event in the Old Testament. This is seen in verse 31.

John 6:31 NASB  "Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'HE GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.'" They weren't satisfied with getting fed miraculously the day before, they want Jesus to do exactly what had happened in the Old Testament and rain bread from heaven. They are actually quoting from Psalm 78. It is an interesting psalm because it is not very positive toward the Israelites. See, one of the worst things you can do is try to use an author's work against him, because he knows what he wrote a lot better than you do. Jesus is going to flip it back on them.

Psalm 78 is a description of the wilderness generation when they were whining about not having any food in the wilderness. So God was going to send them this bread from heaven—manna, which literally means, what is it? In their heart they put God to the test by asking food according to their desire. Psalm 105:16 says that God gave them their hearts' desire, but He sent leanness to their souls. That is a good verse to memorize to remind us that sometimes what we think we need to make life meaningful, happy and significant, God gives us but then it is self-destructive because it doesn't really give us meaning. The only thing that gives us meaning and value and significance is the Word of God is our soul—not in our notebook, not quoting doctrine; but knowing Scripture. It is the Word of God that is alive and powerful; it is not theology that is alive and powerful. We have to know the Word of God and make it ours—internalize it completely. They hadn't done this and their desire was just to take care of their physical needs. They were more concerned with success, clothing and status symbols than they were about the Word of God. They gave God lip service, a lot like politicians that we know give lip service to the right thing, what the people want to hear, but they don't really believe it.

So the people in the wilderness spoke against God and said, well God can't really do this. Can He prepare a table out here in the desert? 

Psalm 78:18 NASB "And in their heart they put God to the test By asking food according to their desire. [19] Then they spoke against God; They said, 'Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?' [20] Behold, He struck the rock so that waters gushed out, And streams were overflowing; Can He give bread also? Will He provide meat for His people?" That is the issue. But do they believe God? No. [22] "Because they did not believe in God And did not trust in His salvation." The exodus generation was asking for God to do this miracle but their core value is they didn't believe in God. Their heart attitude was that they had no faith or trust in God. They were rebellious, but they were saying they wanted a miracle.

Jesus is going to turn this back on this generation that He is talking to in the same way. They are asking for a miracle but they don't believe Him. They don't believe in God; they have already rejected Him.     

Psalm 78:24 NASB "He rained down manna upon them to eat And gave them food from heaven." That is the background. God gave them the food; Moses didn't.

Now Jesus is going to correct them. John 6:32 NASB "Jesus then said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. [33] For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world'." We are not talking about just physical bread, because as Moses wrote in Deuteronomy, Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. 

Jesus then identifies Himself with this bread. John 6:35 NASB "Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst'." Coming to Jesus is equivalent to believing in Him. Believing in Him is the same as coming to Him. That is just another way of helping us to understand what is means to trust in Jesus, the believe Him or to accept Him as savior. But in saying this Jesus makes this Jesus makes this claim again that He is God. He says, I AM (EGO EIMI) the bread of life.

So who is the child in the manger? The child in the manger is eternal God. The child in the manger is the fulfillment of the prophecy from Isaiah 7:14 that God is with us—that He is Immanuel. He is God with us, and Jesus is making the claim that He is the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises and prophecies related to the Messiah.

I want to look at one more statement of Jesus saying that He is I AM, and this is in John chapter 11.

John 11:1 NASB "Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. [2] It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. [3] So the sisters sent {word} to Him, saying, 'Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick'."

Jesus' response was not to come quickly. He decided to continue the work He was doing and then after four days He made His move towards Bethany. He decided to wait because this was for the glory of God. As they approached Bethany and they learned that Lazarus was already dead and had been in  the tomb for four days. That is significant because the assumption was that maybe a person just passed out, seemed dead, and so if they were in the tomb for three days and longer they were assumed dead. There is a large crowd at the home and they are comforting Mary and Martha over the loss of their brother. Martha gets word that Jesus is coming and she is the more active one of the two sisters and she heads out to meet Jesus. She is a little upset with Jesus because she knows that if He had shown up earlier He could have healed her brother. She is a little judgmental toward Jesus but she knows that she really shouldn't be, so she is just kind of torn as of her attitude with Jesus.

John 11:21 NASB "Martha then said to Jesus, 'Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. [22] Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You'." So she understands that Jesus can still perform a miracle and Lazarus can come forth.

John 11:23 NASB "Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again'." Then Martha shows a little bit of confusion because she is not sure that that means right now. [24] "Martha said to Him, 'I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day'." Jesus' reply is what is significant in the next two verses.

John 11:25 NASB "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, [26] and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?'" 

Again He uses the same opening line, EGO EIMI indicating a claim to deity. He is saying two things: a) I am the resurrection; b) I am the life. He says the same thing a little later on in John 14:6, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life." Jesus continually emphasizes that He is the source of life. He makes that clear here as well: "'I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies". Physical death is not the end of life. Life goes on after physical death. 

Then He says, "and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die." Here He is not talking about physical death, He is talking about eternal death. If you believe in Jesus then there is no eternal death; there is no condemnation. Physical death is simply a transition into our eternal life. But what is the condition for eternal life? Is it reforming your life? Is it being good? Is it doing the right thing? Is it being moral? Is it following Jesus' commands to be a disciple? No; none of those. It is very simple. Do you believe this? That is the only issue in salvation. It is faith alone in Christ alone, not faith plus anything. Faith plus destroys it. And this is the point John is making in his Gospel. At the end of his Gospel after the resurrection John begins his conclusion and he says:

John 20:30 NASB "Therefore many other signs …"The sign that he is talking about is the sign of resurrection. "… Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; [31] but these [seven major miracles plus the resurrection] have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name."

"That you may believe" – not that you may reform your life, not that you may become a better person; but that you may believe. Belief is not like many modernists say, something that is in spite of evidence. Belief in the Bible is based on evidence. It is based on fact, on knowledge, on intelligence. WE are given this evidence in the Scripture so that we can believe that Jesus is the Messiah, that Jesus is the one who was prophesied and promised in the Old Testament, and that He is the Messiah and the Son of God. His claims to deity give us no option.

He claimed to be deity. If He is telling the truth then He is who He claimed to be; if He is not telling the truth, then He is insane, but we know that is not true. But they took Jesus seriously because His life backed up His claims. His claim was that He was the Son of God. John says, "By believing you have life through His name". It is simply faith, trusting in Jesus, believing that He is who He claimed to be and that He did what He said He would do, and that is to pay the penalty for our sins. 

So when we celebrate Christmas, we celebrate grace. We celebrate God's gift of salvation, His gift of a savior who as Gabriel announced would die for the sins of His people. And the way that is applied to us is simply by believing.