Here are some thought, partly inspired by Stephen Robinson who I had for New Testament, on the use of the phrase “I am” in John.
There are seven “I am the NOUN” in John, which are found 12 times:
John 6:35, 48 and 51 - “I am the bread of life” or “living bread”
John 8:12; 9:5 - “I am the light of the world”
John 10:7, 9 - “I am the door of the sheep”
John 10:11, 14 - “I am the good shepherd”
John 11:25 - “I am the resurrection and the life”;
John 14:6 - “I am the way, the truth, and the light”
John 15:1, 5 - “I am the true vine”
There are five times when Jesus declares “I am.”
While talking to the woman at the well, Jesus the KJV in John 4:26 has “Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.” But a better/actual translation is: “I am [is] the one speaking to you.” (Huntsman, Becoming the Beloved Disciple, p. 63)
When with the disciples during the raging sea, in John 6:20 the translation in the KJV is “But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid” but Huntsman notes that the Greek used is ego eimi which is “I am” (p. 74).
In John 8:58 Jesus states, “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” and the reaction was to stone him.
In John 10:36 Jesus reiterates that he is “I am” and the reaction was to take him.
Then in John 18:5 after the suffering in Gethsemane, Judas and the band of officers sought out Jesus. He simply told them “I am” (with the word “he” added by translators). Unlike before when the masses to kill him, now when Jesus declared his divinity, his testimony was so strong that “As soon then as he had said unto them, “I am,” they went backward, and fell to the ground.” (verse 6 with the added word “he” deleted).
All told this gives 12 different mentions of “I am” in John, a recurring number in the scriptures.
I tried to relate this to the temple. In John 2:19 Jesus says “destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” While Jesus was speaking of his body, it is interesting to note that John the “I am” statements correlate with the temple.
The door (I am the door) of the temple was decorated with vines (I am the true vine), the bread (I am the bread of life) sat on a table inside the tabernacle on the north side, the south side had the menorah (I am the light). In the Holy of Holies the priest would utter the ineffable name of God – “I am.”
The three I ams not above are “I am the good shepherd” “I am the resurrection and the life” “I am the way, the truth, and the light.” These all fit in with temple but perhaps as not clear cut as bread.
Any thoughts, comments, improvements on this? This general topic is in the Sunday School manual and I’ll be going over it in a week.