We used this book for our Lenten study in our church, both for our Adult Sunday class, and in the main service as well, with Pastor Gary using it as the basis for his sermons during Lent. The book covers the “I Am” sayings of Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of John, as well as introductory chapter on “I AM” as the name of God from the Old Testament.
It really was quite an excellent book. Pastor Fuquay’s style easily reminds the reader of someone like Adam Hamilton. It’s easy to read, which really gives people the chance to interact with the themes and ideas presented. Even some of the most thorny theological material is presented in a light that invites you to wrestle with the idea itself instead of just going over ones head.
Each chapter in the book explores one of the “I Am” statements. After an introductory thought, Pastor Fuquay talks about what these statements would have meant to the people who originally heard Jesus say these words. This is fascinating in and of itself, but Fuquay then turns to dig into what these statements mean in our life today. The “I Am”sayings that are covered are, in order:
“I Am the Bread of Life: Knowing God’s Satisfaction”
“I Am the Light of the World: Knowing God’s Guidance”
“I Am the Good Shepherd: Knowing God’s Care”
“I Am the True Vine: Knowing God’s Power”
“I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: Knowing God’s Way”
“I Am the Resurrection and the Life: Knowing God’s Possibilities”
My favorite chapter in the book was probably the Chapter on Jesus as the Good Shepherd. It was already one of my favorite metaphors in scripture, but reading the information provided by Fuquay as background into the role of a Shepherd at this time strengthened that even more. It was also one of the most comforting things that I’ve read in a long while.
There is also a DVD study that is available for this as well. In each session, Pastor Fuquay visits different places in the Holy Land that are connected to these “I Am” sayings. He goes from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, to a beautiful vineyard, to the tomb of Lazarus, and to many places in between. Fuquay himself provides more unique understanding in the video segments, and they are beautifully shot and produced. Our group got a lot out of it and I highly recommend purchasing it if you choose to do the study in a small group setting.
The book’s length and the final chapter on “The Resurrection and the Life” make it an ideal study for the season of Lent and Easter Sunday, but it isn’t necessarily billed as such. It would make an excellent study at any point in the church year. I also think that pretty much any individual would get something out of it just reading on one’s own as well.
A couple of last notes: If you are going to use it as a whole church study, I would recommend having your adult class or small group discuss the topic before it features in the service or sermon. Our adult class meets after the service, and a couple of times some folks thought that there wasn’t a lot left to say on some of these after the Pastor had already covered the topic in his sermon. Also, there were a couple of people in the group who thought that while the information presented was interesting, they thought that overall it was a little on the simple side. I didn’t necessarily think so, but it was an opinion voiced in our group, so it’s possible that in a more advanced or deep thinking group, this opinion might spring up as well.