(Audio)Book Review: Jesus in the Present Tense by Warren W. Wiersbe

Title: Jesus in the Present Tense: The I AM Statements of Christ
Author: Warren W. Wiersbe
Publisher: David C. Cook/ChristianAudio (2011)

It’s easy for us to be caught up in the past—the mistakes we’ve made, the opportunities we’ve lost, the sins we’ve committed. When we spend all our time focusing on these things, it robs us of our joy. We don’t feel as connected to Christ, nor do we feel the freedom to serve and to give of ourselves fully. But this does not have to be our experience—and by examining the I AM statements of Christ in his latest book, Jesus in the Present Tense, author Warren W. Wiersbe offers readers (and listeners) the hope and freedom that comes from living our lives in the present tense with Christ.

The “I AM” statements of Jesus found in John’s gospel are some of the most poignant examples of Christ’s proclamation of His divinity—and understanding them is crucial to our growth in our love for Christ. After initially dealing with the “I AM” statements that are found throughout the Old Testament, beginning with Moses’ conversation with the Lord in the book of Exodus, Wiersbe addresses with the seven metaphorical “I AM” statements:

  1. I am the bread of life (John 6:35; John 6:48; John 6:51)
  2. I am the light of the world (John 8:12; John 9:5)
  3. I am the door of the sheep (John 10:7; John 10:9)
  4. I am the good shepherd (John 10:11; John 10:14)
  5. I am the resurrection and the life (John 11:25)
  6. I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6)
  7. I am the true vine (John 15:1)

He also takes a couple of surprising turns in dealing with what are known as the absolute I AM statement of Christ (found in John 6:20; John 8:24; John 8:28; John 8:58; and John 18:5) and also what he calls the neglected I AM—Psalm 22:6:

But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.

That he chose to include this passage is intriguing and fitting, especially when looked at in the full scope of Scripture. Wiersbe points out that some commentators believe that Jesus not only quoted Psalm 22:1 during His crucifixion, but also the entirety of the psalm—including verse six. This was not something I’d considered prior to listening to this book, but it does make sense given that Psalm 22 is Messianic in nature.

While others throughout Scripture have expressed self-reproach using this kind of language, none is as holy as Christ—and that is what makes this neglected “I AM” so significant. Christ was speaking these words to God the Father, while doing His greatest work, dying for the sins of the world. The point, Wiersbe reminds us, is not that we should focus on our depravity, but that the Lord’s willingness to suffer unbearable humiliation in order to save sinners should lead us to greater adoration of Him.

Indeed, that’s the point of all of the I AM statements of Jesus—because He is God, we must worship and adore Him alone. To do otherwise is to rob ourselves of great joy.

Speaking to the audio production, the choice of narrator is great, as is often the case. Maurice England has a very smooth Southern drawl that compliments the text nicely. On a negative side, because the book is so highly expositional and has a great deal to chew on, those who listen to the audio version vs reading a print version are at a bit of a disadvantage, if only in that they can’t as easily go back to the text and make notes. Truth be told, I had to listen to the book probably 4 times before I think I could safely say I “got” it. (Not that I minded—the content definitely warrants multiple reads/listens).

Jesus in the Present Tense is a book I would commend to all readers seeking to grow in their understanding of the “I AM” statements of Christ. Wiersbe’s insights are helpful and challenging, but they will help you to live more fully in the present tense with Christ.

A complimentary download of this book was provided for review purposes by ChristianAudio.com