"You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” I John 14:4-7As I talked about a few weeks ago, John 13-17 is the record of Jesus' last conversation with his disciples about his plans and purpose for the Church after his departure. It's important that we understand the way and the truth and the life within that context.
As with nearly every scripture verse outside the book of Proverbs, this statement wasn't dropped into the evening's conversation like a tweet on the @12Disciples Twitter feed.
Jesus is answering a question, one posed by the disciples' designated doubter, Thomas.
After Jesus says, "You know the way to the place where I am going," I picture each of the disciples looking sideways at the others, checking to see if everyone else is confused. They maybe look at Peter to see if he's going to pop off and say something stupid again. But Peter still has a glazed look in his eyes, his head cocked to the side as though he's listening hard to see if there's a rooster crowing somewhere.
Finally someone elbows Thomas and an involuntary yelp escapes his lips. When Jesus and everyone else looks at him, Thomas can't help but letting the yelp become the question in his head.
“Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”I've heard a boat load of sermons and read a truck load of books and articles and blog posts analyzing Jesus' reply, "I am the way and the truth and the life." Most of those, in my opinion, stretch this simple statement far beyond Jesus' intent.
Jesus doesn't say this:
In order to go where I'm going, here's a list of things you need to do: You need to do everything the way I've done them; you need to know all the truths I've taught; you need to live your life like I lived mine.Followers of Jesus will most certainly be blessed if they seek to imitate his way, his truth, and his life. But that isn't the way to the Father.
Jesus IS the way. There's no other route or plan to reconcile with the Father than through Jesus. Just as football coaches like to say, "the road to the championship goes through fill in the blank with your team's location, Jesus says the way to the Father goes through him. There's no alternate route, like Google maps likes to give us. Any other way won't get you to God.
Jesus IS the truth. He is the embodiment of the truth about the Father. There's no other way to truly know God without knowing Jesus.
Jesus IS the life. As he told Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life." The only way to live the abundant life and eternal life God intends for us is to receive that life from Jesus. On this last night, Jesus knows he is about to seal that part of the deal once and for all, by defeating death.
Any other interpretation of "I am the way and the truth and the life" inevitably puts the focus on our own effort and away from Jesus. He is the author and the finisher of our faith.