Jesus’ “I Am” Statements – 07 (“I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life”)
(Message by Kobus van der Walt, Three Rivers Baptist Church – Sunday, 17 March 2019)
- SCRIPTURE READING:
John 14:1-14 ~ “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. 12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
Two of the most remarkable statements by Jesus are found in one verse, i.e. 14:6 ~ “I am the way, the truth, and the life”and “No one comes to the Father except through Me.”These statements were made whilst in discussion with His disciples, as He prepared them for His impending death (14:1-4), which prompted questions by Thomas and Philip in 14:5 and 7-9.
In making such statements, Jesus claims to be three things:
1. “The Way,
2. “The Truth” and…
3. “The Life.”
Let’s take a closer look where we first observe that Jesus says He is “The Way.”
2. THE WAY:
In the preceding chapter (chapter 13), a dramatic situation and intense conversation took place in a room where Jesus and His disciples enjoyed the Passover meal – this was the night before Jesus’ crucifixion. We see in 13:1 that Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart out of this world and return to the Father. At that stage, the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Jesus (13:2). In 13:5, Jesus poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around Him.
We also see in 13:11 that Jesus, for the first time addressed His disciples as “little children” – a term of endearment. And He used it only after Judas had departed. He told them that He would be with them only for a little while longer, because He was about to die on the cross. They would seek to find Him, but would not be able to follow Him, for He would return to heaven. The Lord had told the same thing to the Jews, but He meant it in a different sense. For the disciples, His departure would only be temporary. He would come again for them (John 14). But for the Jews, His leaving them would be final. He was returning to heaven, and they could not follow Him because of their unbelief. One of the most important instructions in the Bible, was given to Jesus’ disciples in 13:34, when He said ~ “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
In another incredible announcement, Jesus told Peter that he will deny Jesus three times – the same Peter of which Jesus later would say in ~ “I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt.16:18). What love and grace from Jesus towards the man who denied Him three times!
At this stage, the disciples were completely bewildered and discouraged, because Jesus had said He was going away (7:34; 8:21; 12:8, 35; 13:33).
To comfort the disciples, Jesus gave them several exhortations along with promises. In 14:1 He says ~ “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me”
In 14:1-5 Jesus also told His disciples that they must believe in God and in Him and their hearts must not be troubled, because eventually they would come to Him. He told them He would prepare a place in heaven for all believers and would one day return for them (14:1–3). Jesus assured them that they knew full well where He was going and how to get there (14:4). What is more, He comforted them by saying that He personally is going to prepare a place for them (for every believer) in His Father’s house (in heaven).He also promises them that He will come back one day to take them to Himself. In short, the whole point of Jesus’ suffering and death is to prepare a place for them in heaven, and to take them safely there.
Trust in God is the one true remedy for anxiety. Jesus completed the remedy for their concern by painting a beautiful portrait of the life that awaits them upon their reunion with Him.
Thomas however, makes a remark and puts a question to Jesus in 14:5 ~ “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”Thomas’ statement and his question reflects the perplexity (Afrikaans:“radeloosheid”) of the Eleven Disciples. They would remain puzzled until Jesus’ death and resurrection and until the advent of the Spirit. They had all the information but they could not put it together.
In response to Thomas’ remark and question, Jesus answers Thomas by saying ~ “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
It is clear, the Father’s house is the disciples’ destination, but Jesus is the way to get there, but the exclusiveness of Jesus’ pronouncement is clear in the final words of vs.6 ~ “Nobody comes to the Father except through Me.”(14:6). By using this phrase, Jesus is establishing that knowing Him is not only the ultimate meaning and fulfilment of life on earth, but the only way to really know the Father in heaven ~ “Nobody comes to the Father except through Me.”
With these words, Jesus stressed that salvation, contrary to what many people think, is notobtainable through many ways. Only one Way exists, clearly stated in Acts 4:12 ~ “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved”and 1 Tim.2:5 ~ “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.”Jesus is the only access to the Father because He is the only One from the Father ~ “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man”(John 3:13).
3. THE TRUTH:
Apart from the fact that Jesus says, "I am the way, He also adds to this, “I am the truth.”
The question is, what is truth? And how can we know truth? In a postmodern world that denies that truth can be known, the question is more important than ever to answer. “What is truth?”
In defining truth, it is firstly helpful to note what truth is(I will only name 5 from a list of 9 from the website,“GotQuestions.org”):
• Truth is not simply whatever works. Lies can appear to “work,” but they are still lies and not the truth - we call this pragmatism.
• Truth is not what makes people feel good. Unfortunately, bad news can be true.
• Truth is not what the majority says is true.
Truth is not simply what is believed. A lie believed is still a lie.
Truth is not what is publicly proved. A truth can be privately known (for example, the location of buried treasure).
The Greek word for “truth” isἀλήθεια(“alētheia“), which literally means to “un-hide” or “hiding nothing.” It conveys the thought that truth is always there, always open and available for all to see, with nothing being hidden or obscured. One of the most profound and eternally significant questions in the Bible was posed by an unbeliever in John 18:38. Pilate – the man who handed Jesus over to be crucified – turned to Jesus in His final hour, and asked, “What is truth?”It was a rhetorical question, a cynical response to what Jesus had just revealed ~ “I have come into the world, to testify to the truth.” John MacArthur defines truth as follows: “Truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God.’ Even more to the point: ‘Truth is the self-expression of God. That is the Biblical meaning of truth.”
In the Old Testament, “the way of truth”is a life lived in conformity with God’s law ~ “I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me” (Ps.119:30). In Ps.86:11, “way”and “truth”occur in parallelism: “Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth.”In Ps.16:11, the notions of way, truth, and life are combined ~ “You have made known to me the path of life.”A life devoted to walking in truth, in turn, will have eternal consequences ~ “The path of life leads upward for the wise to keep him from going down to the grave”(Prov.15:24).
There is a difference between telling someone about the truth and living the truth before them. The one who lives the truth literally becomes the truth. Jesus Christ is the Embodiment of truth. He is the picture of truth. God not only talks to man about Himself, God shows man what He is like in the person of Jesus Christ. Man can look at Jesus Christ and see a perfect picture of the truth of God. We also see in John 1:14 that Jesus is the Word ~ “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Jesus Christ is therefore the embodiment of the truth and He is the truth. Jesus therefore, told the disciples that apart from the fact that He is the only way to God and His eternal Kingdom, that He is also the truth and the truth will set them free ~ “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’” (John 8:31-32). We must therefore, abide in Christ; be like Him; become like Him and in order to do that, we must be in His Word.
4. THE LIFE:
Jesus also says that “He is Life.” This saying also draws us back to the shepherd analogy of John 10:10 ~ “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ... “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me- just as the Father knows me and I know the Father - and I lay down my life for the sheep.” Here Jesus is not only painting a picture of how He defends and leads His sheep, but also foreshadowing His death on the cross. His death on the cross that will lead those who believe in Him to eternal life ~ “...whoever believes in Him may have eternal life” (John 3:15).
Christ Jesus is the life. He is the source of life, both spiritual and eternal. Those who receive Him have eternal life because He is the Life.
- CONCLUSION & APPLICATION:
How can sinners ever hope to get to heaven? Through Christ! We read in Luke 15:11-24, the story of the Prodigal Son. Like the sinner, the boy was lost (Luke 15:24), ignorant (Luke 15:17), and dead (Luke 15:24). But he came to the father! (Luke 15:20) He was lost, but Christ is the Way; he was ignorant, but Christ is the Truth; and he was dead (spiritually), but Christ is the Life! And he arrived at his father’s house when he repented and returned.
There is hope for all of you who are not saved or sure of your salvation. Christ Jesus is the answer, because He is the Way, and the Truth and the Life. And for you who are saved? Like the disciples, Jesus wants to assure us that He is presently preparing our place in the Father’s House and that He will come back and take us to the Father’s House – what a glorious expectation!
In these hard and difficult times, we must remember that this life is not the primary point. This life is not our ultimate goal and does not encompass the entirety of who we are. This life is a mere drop in the ocean of eternity and serves as the starting block on the marathon that leads us to our goal of eternal life. We can slow it down, we can spend time money and energy working to fight against it, but we can’t stop it from marching forward.
We can live this life, in fact, we must live this life in such a way that we are not chasing things that don’t last but chasing the things that do last and have eternal significance. This type of life has eternal impact not only for us but for untold others around us.
When Jesus refers to Himself as the way, the truth, and the life, He is giving us a better way to live our lives through Him. He is showing us that through following Him daily in faith, He will lead us to a better, richer, more meaningful life than we could ever find on our own.