The Four Faces of Jesus
The Four Faces of Jesus
The four faces of God, the 4 gospels, the Tabernacle in the desert, the 7 “I AM” statements in the Gospel of John, The Cross… although seemingly unrelated topics for a bible study, they are in fact related and tied very neatly together giving us a picture of Jesus Christ and it is my intend to show you this so it will bless you.
To begin tying this together let’s go to the throne room of God and see the descriptions given first to Ezekiel and then later to John in the Book of the Revelation.
Ezekiel 1:1 In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. ( NOTE: Everything we are about to read describes God ) ( 2 ) On the fifth of the month--it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin-- ( 3 ) the word of the LORD came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi , by the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians. There the hand of the LORD was upon him. ( 4 ) I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north--an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the f ire looked like glowing metal, ( 5 ) and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man, ( 6 ) but each of them had four faces and four wings (like in the shape of a Cross) ( 7 ) Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. ( 8 ) Under their wings on their four sides they had the hands of a man. All four of them had faces and wings, ( 9 ) and their wings touched one another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved. ( NOTE: THIS IS IMPORTANT ) ( 10 ) Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. ( 11 ) Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out upward; each had two wings, one touching the wing of another creature on either side, and two wings covering its body. ( 12 ) Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went. ( 13 ) The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it. ( 14 ) The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning. ( 15 ) As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces. ( 16 ) This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like chrysolite , and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel. ( 17 ) As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the creatures faced; th e wheels did not turn about as the creatures went. ( 18 ) Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around. ( 19 ) When the living creatures moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the living creatures rose from the ground, the wheels also rose. ( 20 ) Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, and the wheels would rise along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. ( 21 ) When the creatures moved, they also moved; when the creatures stood still, they also stood still; and when the creatures rose from the ground, the wheels rose along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. ( 22 ) Spread out above the heads of the living creatures was what looked like an expanse, sparkling like ice, and awesome. ( 23 ) Under the expanse their wings were stretched out one toward the other, and each had two wings covering its body. ( 24 ) When the creatures moved, I heard the sound of their wings, like the roar of rushing waters, like the voice of the Almighty, like the tumult of an army. When they stood still, they lowered their wings. ( 25 ) Then there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. ( 26 ) Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. ( 27 ) I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. ( 28 ) Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.
Go to Revelation 4: 1-11
Rev 4:1 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." ( 2 ) At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. ( 3 ) And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. ( 4 ) Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. ( 5 ) From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. ( 6 ) Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. ( 7 ) The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. ( 8 ) Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." ( 9 ) Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives forever and ever, ( 10 ) the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives forever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: ( 11 ) "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."
Go to Revelation 5: 1-14 (NKJV)
Rev 5:1 And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. ( 2 ) Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?"( 3 ) And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. ( 4 ) So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. ( 5 ) But one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals." ( 6 ) And I looked, and behold, [fn] in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth . ( 7) Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. ( 8 ) Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. ( 9 ) And they sang a new song, saying:
"You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
(10) And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth." ( 11 ) Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands,
( 12 ) saying with a loud voice:
"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!"
( 13 ) And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:
"Blessing and honor and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!"
( 14 ) Then the four living creatures said, "Amen!" And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.
Now, if you can visualize all this, great, I can’t, this is beyond my imagination but here is something I can figure out. The first time that Jesus Christ, God Almighty came to earth he had left his Glory in Heaven, this description Ezekiel saw is what Jesus looks like in his Glory and John writes of it as well, either one is beyond our imagining but make no mistake, the meek and mild Jesus that came and was slain isn’t coming back meek and mild he is coming in all his Glory and this is a glimpse.
We have seen a glimpse of these 4 creatures that represent the 4 faces of Jesus Christ. Where have we seen this before? The answer is the 4 Gospels.
These are amazing creatures. They follow God wherever he goes. There are four creatures beneath the throne, and they all have four faces. These four faces are the key to the four gospels.
"...they four had the face of a man , and the face of a lion , on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle." (Ezekiel 1:9)
The four gospels seem to have the same attributes of these four faces.
This as we shall see explains why there are 4 separate gospels, written by 4 different men rather than one gospel with all the stories combined.
A key point we need to understand is that God in writing 4 gospels never intended that they provide a historical records as much as each gospel was written for a specific audience and the contents were specifically included so as to provide a meaningful account or story specific to that audience. This was a carefully crafted presentation to show the role that Jesus would play which therefore explains the inclusion or exclusion of key points in that gospel.
The Gospel of Matthew – King of Israel
The first gospel in the New Testament is Matthew’s which was written specifically to the Jews. Within the contents therein God is presenting overwhelming evidence that his son, Jesus Christ, is the long awaited Messiah and that he is also the King of the Jews, the Lion of Judah, the root and offspring of David.
Matthew’s writing begins by presenting the genealogy beginning with Abraham, the patriarch whose importance to the Jews was supreme, and continues that genealogy through David (Matt 1:1-25) and this is established from the first verse (Matt 1:1) The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:
Of all the gospels, Matthew has more references to Old Testament prophecies that are fulfilled in the life of Jesus than all the other gospels. Since it was common for the Jews to memorize the first 5 books of the Old Testament, Matthew’s writings are therefore used to establish who Jesus is and it is written to highlight key points that foreshadowed Jesus Christ in the Old Testament and specifically in the first 5 books, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
All the gospels have key phrases that are repeated throughout the book and the most common one found in Matthew is “it was fulfilled” which ties Jesus to the Old Testament prophecies.
Whereas Jesus performed many miracles it is important to note that the first one recorded in Matthew deals with the cleansing of a leper (Matt 8:2) And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
Why is this important?
Because this miracle is highly symbolic for the Jews in that leprosy throughout the Old Testament was seen as a punishment for sin and the miracle described in Matthew 8 signifies that Jesus, the long awaited Messiah, has come to take away the sin of the nation. Although the Gentiles were saved as a result of Jesus’ sacrifice we must not forget that Jesus came to save his own people first and when rejected salvation was given to the gentiles. The resurrection which takes place at the end of Matthew beginning with Chapter 22 is the promise confirmed by God that David’s Kingdom would last forever and be established through Jesus.
Matthew carries the theme of the face of the Lion . The Lion stands for kingship. Since Matthew more than the other 3 gospel relied more heavily on Old Testament prophecy it is no wonder the Jews would have understood this better from their historical and cultural background.
For example, Hosea, one of the OT prophets spoke of Messiah as a lion of Judah.
Hosea 5:1 Hear ye this, O priests; and hearken, ye house of Israel; and give ye ear, O house of the king; for judgment is toward you, because ye have been a snare on Mizpah , and a net spread upon Tabor.
Hosea 5:14 For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him.
When the gospel of Matthew was written, we see every attribute of Jesus as the King of Israel. As Jesus comes into Israel on the back of an ass, he comes as the King of the Jews.
Matthew 21:5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion , Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.
The Gospel of Mark – Obedient Servant
The next gospel, Mark’s, was written for the Romans and as such contains no genealogy since this gospel portrays Jesus as the obedient servant of God and as such, a servant’s genealogy does not matter to the Romans. The common phrase found in Mark’s Gospel is “straight away” which sometimes is also translated as “immediately” since a Roman’s expectation of a servant’s duties are that they be done immediately and without delay and as such we will see Jesus in action as the central theme of these writings. Mark’s gospel is really Peter’s accounts written to the Romans.
The very first miracle in Mark is found in (Mar 1:32) At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed.
To understand why this account is important, in light of the audience to which it was intended for, we have to remember that Romans were a polytheistic society, believing in many gods, and by healing the demon possessed man who was tormented by many evil spirits, God is demonstrating through his servant Jesus that he is much more superior to all other gods. The end of Mark deals with Jesus ascension since having finished his service, the servant now returns home.
Since the gospel of Mark has as the central theme that of a servant or a laborer, the gospel has the Ox as the face on the left side of the living creature. Throughout the book we see the service of Jesus and by contrast to Matthew and Luke, which have a genealogy, in Marks’ gospel the events begin with his baptism goes straight to work with the sick and hurting of the people.
Mark 1:33 And all the city was gathered together at the door. ( 34 ) And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.
More than any of the other gospels, there is an emphasis on the message Jesus was trying to get out to the people. It is recorded he preached to the people the good news and that was the message of the servant or laborer for God.
Here are some examples:
Mark 1:38 And he said unto them , Let us go into the next towns; that I may preach there also : for therefore came I forth. ( 39 ) And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.
Mark 2:2 And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. ( 3 ) And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.
Mark 6:6 And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching. ( 7 ) And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits.
Mark 6:12 And they went out, and pre ached that men should repent. ( 13 ) And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.
Mark 16:20 And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
The Gospel of Luke – Son of Man
The third gospel is the one written by Luke and the audience it was written for were the Greeks. In his writings Luke refers to Jesus as the Son of Man, a title that Jesus was very fond of when referring to himself. In this gospel we see the human side of Jesus and his teachings since Greeks were known for being great story tellers and oratory was the form used most often in that culture so here we see the common phrase, “and it came to pass”.
Since Jesus is portrayed as the Son of Man it is for that reason that Luke’s genealogy traces Jesus all the way back to Adam, the first man (Luke 3:21-38). Since the Greeks, like the Romans, were a polytheistic society, Luke used the casting out of a demon as his first miracle, and ended his gospel with the promise of the Holy Spirit; uniting man with God and it isn’t a surprise that the account of Pentecost was also written by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles.
The gospel of Luke has the theme of the face of a man. This face is on the right side of the living creatures, seen by Ezekiel. This gospel was written by Luke, and he was the only author that did not see Jesus but investigated the information to be recorded. Luke was a physician and took very high regard to details. He began with the actions of Zacharias, John the Baptist’s father, acting out his priestly duties in the temple and took careful detail to record as much of the information he could find. He also recorded a lineage of Christ that is unlike the one in Matthew that follows Joseph’s lineage. Luke’s list follows Mary’s lineage. The Jewish customs refuse to acknowledge the women’s lineage, so it is labeled as Joseph’s according to Jewish custom. That is why it is recorded as (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, Luke 3:23. Heli was the father of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Joseph was not the true "father" of Jesus anyway. God was the Father of Jesus Christ.
The lineage was divided at King David. The list in Matthew left David and went through Solomon and proceeded to Joseph. Matthew 1:7 And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa.
With the list in Luke, it shows the lineage going a different way. Jesus was to come from the tribe of Judah. The list is shown in reverse of the list in Matthew and goes from David to Nathan.
Luke 3:31 Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David, V.32 Which was the son of Jesse, which was the son of Obed, which was the son of Booz, which was the son of Salmon, which was the son of Naasson, V.33 Which was the son of Aminadab, which was the son of Aram, which was the son of Esrom, which was the son of Phares, which was the son of Juda.
The list is shown in reverse because of it being Mary’s lineage. Both of the lists pass through Judah, as to fulfill prophecy.
The Gospel of John – Son of God
The last gospel, John’s, was written after the Apostle Paul had died and in part it was meant to refute criticisms to Paul’s writings that had arisen after his death.
John wrote to the Church describing how Jesus felt about peoples’ reaction to His ministry. His gospel is the most unique, based upon 7 miracles, 7 “I AM” statements and 7 discourses. John pays little attention to chronology, sometimes placing events out of order (like the Temple Cleansing in Chapter 2) for their effect in presenting Jesus as the Son of God and since he has no beginning and no end it follows there would be no genealogy for the eternal Jesus Who was with God and Who was God. The term “I AM” is how God first gave himself a name when he introduces himself to Moses (Exodus 3). The great I AM is the name of God by which salvation came to the nation of Israel and it is this same name Jesus uses to establish he is the Son of God now bringing salvation eternally for all who would accept him.
The 7 “I AM” statements are as follows:
- The Bread o f Life: John 6:35 says, Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. ”
- The Light of the World: John 8:12 he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
- The Gate: John 10:9 which says, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. ”
- The Good Shepherd: John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
- The Resurrection and the Life: John 11:25-26 brings us to the 5th I AM statement Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
- The Way, the Truth and the Life: The 6th I AM is found in John 14:6, Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
- The Vine: The 7th and final I AM statement comes from John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
John’s gospel covers only about 21 days out of the Lord’s 3 1/2;-year ministry. 10 chapters are devoted to one week and 1/3 of all the verses in John describe one day and we need to remember that John was a witness to these events so his descriptions are from a first hand account.
The gospel of John carries the theme of the Eagle, which stands for "divinity." Most of the book of John centers on showing the divinity of Jesus.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was wi th God, and the Word was God. ( 2 ) The same w as in the beginning with God. ( 3 ) All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. ( 4 ) In him was life; and t he life was the light of men. ( 5 ) And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. ( 6 ) There was a man sent from God, whose name was John . ( 7 ) The same came for a witness , to bear witness of the Light, that all m en through him might believe. ( 8 ) He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. ( 9 ) That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world . ( 10 ) He was in the world, and the world was made by him , and the world knew him not. ( 11 ) He came unto his own, and his own received him not. ( 12 ) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: ( 13 ) Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. ( 14 ) And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
All scripture was inspired by God. For this reason, we know the Bible is true. As you read the gospels, notice what version of the four faces you are reading. The story you are trying to understand can easily be understood if you know which aspect of Jesus God is portraying, the Divinity of Jesus or the Servant hood of Jesus or the Son of Man or Jesus returning as the King.
The most frequently used phrase in John is “Verily, verily”, or “ truly, truly ” . His first miracle was changing water into wine, an act of enormous symbolism by which He “revealed His Glory and His disciples put their faith in Him” John 2:1-11. This; the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him. John’s Gospel ends with the promise of the 2nd Coming thus emphasizing again Jesus Divinity.
It’s interesting that Matthew, Mark, and Luke all contain a private talk on the Great Tribulation called the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21). Although present at the time when those events took place John makes no reference to it in his gospel, which could lead us to think that maybe the church won’t be present on earth during that period. We’ll see.
So why are there four gospels?
Because no single gospel is big enough to contain all of the attributes of Jesus, It took all four to show His four faces as The Lion of Judah , the Obedient Servant , the Son of Man and the Son of God and had they all been combined as one writing it would have been very confusing to show the four faces of Jesus to the different audiences God was trying to reach.
In re-reading the accounts in Ezekiel and Revelation that I first discussed at the beginning of this study the views of the Throne of God depicts four powerful figures called cherubim who are shown guarding the throne. Sometimes it appears that each of the four has a different face, and sometimes it seems that all have four faces, but the faces are always those of a Lion, an Ox, a Man and an Eagle.
Whereas both the book of Ezekiel and Revelation describe the four faces of Jesus, is this the first time we have seen this? No, we saw this early in the Book of Exodus when God brought the nation of Israel out of bondage and when God gave specific instructions to Moses to create the Tent of Tabernacle, a meeting place where he could be in the center of his people, this is a picture, not only of Jesus Christ but the Cross and let me draw that for you now.
The Four Faces of Jesus in Exodus
When the Jews camped in the wilderness after leaving Egypt, they were instructed to set up in 4 sub-camps, one for each point of the compass with the tabernacle in the center.
The first was called the Camp of Judah and included Issachar and Zebulon. Members of those 3 tribes would look for the ensign of Judah, a flag with a large lion embroidered on it, to locate their campground. It was always due east of the tabernacle. The second camp was called the Camp of Ephraim and included Manasseh and Benjamin and was positioned opposite to the west. Ephraim’s flag depicted the figure of an ox . The third camp was called the Camp of Reuben and included Simeon and Gad. Reuben’s flag showed the face of a man . They were located south of the tabernacle. The fourth camp was called the Camp of Dan with Asher and Napthali included and was located on the North. Dan’s flag pictured a large eagle . Looking down from above God would see the camp of Israel with the tabernacle in the Center and the 4 sub-camps around it. The large flag waving in the East pictured the Lion, and opposite it was the Ox. To the south was the face of a Man and opposite it was the Eagle. Was God modeling His throne in the Camp of Israel with the four flags representing the four faces of the cherubim?
Some also see the four gospels symbolized in the four flags, the Lion for Matthew, the Ox, being a beast of service, for Mark, the Man for Luke and the Eagle, a symbol of royalty, for John. And with the four sub-camps extending along the four points of the compass, one can visualize God looking down from above and seeing the camp of Israel in the form of a cross with God in the center surrounded by the four faces of Jesus.
This is what God would have seen when they were encamped around the Tabernacle which is the picture and foretells Jesus Christ…
North - Dan
Flag - Eagle
Asher and Napthali
(Gospel of John - Son of God)
West - Ephraim
Flag - "Ox"
Manasseh and Benjamin
(Gospel of Mark - Obedient Servant)
Audience - Romans
Holy of Holies
East - Judah
Flag - "Lion of Judah"
Issachar and Zebulon
(Gospel of Matthew - King of Isreal)
Audience - Jews
South - Reuben
Flag - "Man"
Simeon and Gad
(Gospel of Luke - Son of Man)
Audience - Greeks / Gentiles
And with the four sub-camps extending along the four points of the compass, one can visualize God looking down from above and seeing the camp of Israel , in the form of a cross with God in the center surrounded by the four faces of Jesus. The tabernacle, which is a picture of Jesus Christ, is in the center of the cross! This is also a foreshadow of the church and inclusive nature that salvation was bought for all, no exceptions, no one excluded!
Jesus' seven "I am" statements also directly relates to the seven objects described and placed in the Israelite tabernacle during the Exodus.
Jesus' seven "I am" statements also directly relates to the seven objects described and placed in the Israelite tabernacle during the Exodus.
- John 6:35 and 48: "I am the bread of life" - The Table of Shewbeard (or Showbread, depending on translation). Showbread was a symbol of fellowship between God and man. It was also called "bread of the presence". Jesus fellowshipped with man in the flesh.
- John 8:12 and 9:5: "I am the light of the world" - The Menorah, or the lampstand. Candles, light, Jesus, light... the correlation is fairly easily drawn. Ironically, the menorah was the ONLY source of light in the holy place in the tabernacle, just as Jesus is the ONLY source of light in the darkened world.
- John 10:7: "I am the gate for the sheep" - The tabernacle gate was the ONLY way to enter into the courts just as Jesus is the ONLY way to enter into heaven. Entering the gate was significant to the Israelites because it was viewed as the only way to find forgiveness and fellowship with God.
- John 10:11-14: "I am the good shepherd..." - The altar of incense, also called the brazen altar, sat in front of the holy of holies and separated the holy place from the holy of holies. The incense was a symbol of intercession. Christ is our intercessor as he goes on to state after the "I Am" statement, "The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep."
- John 11:25: "I am the resurrection and the life..." - The ark of the covenant was the ultimate symbol of atonement for the Israelites, just as Jesus is our ultimate source of atonement; through His resurrection, we have life!
- John 14:6: "I am the way, the truth, and the life..." - The altar of burnt offerings, or brazen altar of the tabernacle, was situated directly inside the gate and was where the offerings were sacrificed. The offerings were symbolic of the Israelites belief that the first step for a sinful man to approach a holy God was to be cleansed by the blood of an innocent creature. Jesus is the perfect Lamb of God who was sacrificed such that we may approach the holy God.
- John 15:1,5: "I am the true vine..." - The laver, or basin, was a place for washing. This is the only part that is a bit of a stretch, but there is some correlation. First, the water as a giver of life. Second, it symbolizes the need for daily cleansing, such that we may stay in the Lord, and we may bear fruit, because as Jesus continued to state, "apart from me, you can do nothing."
The four faces of God, the 4 gospels, the Tabernacle in the desert, the 7 “I AM” statements in the Gospel of John, The Cross… although seemingly unrelated topics for a bible study, they are in fact related and tied very neatly together giving us a picture of Jesus Christ and that concludes our study for this evening, God is so Awesome!
Enjoy reading the gospels with the understanding now that if you want to study on Jesus coming back as the king, read Matthew; if you want to see more of Jesus as the servant-laborer, read Mark; if you want a very detailed analysis of the entire story of Jesus’ birth and death, read Luke; if you want to see the Godly or divine side of Jesus, read John. All are great and all have messages that we should apply to our lives. Remember, to totally understand every aspect of the stories in the four gospels, we need to read all of the books to get a total picture of what God is telling us.