The seven “I Am” statements of Jesus in John’s gospel are a declaration of Jesus’ divinity, his association with God the Father as the embodiment of God in the flesh dwelling among the people (1:14), which is a big deal!
Several centuries before, in the days of Ezekiel, God’s visible presence left the inconsistent and rebellious Jewish people, and their temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. The people of God were dispersed and placed under the rule of other nations, yet a remnant remained. Anticipating God’s dwelling to be restored, and his kingdom reestablished, many were on the lookout for God to move again. It is the midst of this story that Jesus makes his statements.
So, these sayings reveal to us not only the nature of Jesus (God with us) but also the role Jesus plays in the story of redemption. Jesus provides all that is necessary for the good life with God which we were created to enjoy. Brian Peterson explains that the “I AM” sayings of John demonstrate,
“…how Jesus reverses these former curses on Israel while fulfilling the many prophetic pronouncements from Ezekiel…Jesus is pictured as the answer to the sins that plagued Israel…by Jesus’ becoming the metaphorical temple and bringing spiritual life, bread, water, leadership, and sustenance to Israel, and, by extension, to the world.”