“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
The early church had a fitting nickname. “The Way” spoke the message of Jesus as “not one among many ways to God but the only way to God,” being called as such “because of its insistence upon this point (Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23).” In Acts, Peter proclaims the message for which the church was known: “Salvation exists in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Core of the Christian Message
Knowing God’s way is based in instruction: “Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way” (Psalm 25:8). And God’s instructions concerning the core truths of Christianity, the way of salvation, are focused upon one Person. Dockery and George write in The Great Tradition of Christian Thinking that the core of the Christian message, or kerygma, is “the proclamation of Jesus Christ as Lord of lords and King of kings; the way, the truth, and the life.”
To believe and trust in Jesus, we must believe and trust essential truths, as illustrated by the purpose statements of all four gospels. The gospel of Matthew was written to teach truths that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel (Matthew 1:1) and Mark that Jesus is the Son of God (Mark 1:1); Luke was written “that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:4); and John was written that we may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God (John 20:31). Knowing and placing trust in Christ is at the center of each gospel.
The Only Security We Need
Jesus gave a metaphor for himself as the Way, the Truth, and the Life when he was conversing with the disciples about his departure. He was going to prepare a place for them, that they may ultimately join him (John 14:3). Yet, He anticipated their grief, and they sought clarification about his future and theirs (John 14:5). Where would he be going? How could they follow? Would this parting mean they would lose clarity about how to follow God? Jesus responded by telling them who he is: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
The disciples would not fully understand how they were to move forward in this life until after Jesus’ death and resurrection, and until they received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (John 16:13). And yet, Jesus assures them with himself. Marvin Vincent writes in Word Studies in the New Testament, “The disciples are engrossed with the thought of separation from Jesus. . . ‘Therefore, with loving condescension the figure is taken up, and they are assured that He is Himself, if we may so speak, this distance to be traversed’ (Milligan and Moulton).”
Our present separation from the face-to-face presence of Jesus can weigh upon us too—we might lament that we cannot simply hear from him where to go or how to proceed with life. Just like the initially-perplexed disciples, we can hear Jesus’ words and become assured through the Holy Spirit, first, that to know Jesus is to know God. For “He is the image of the invisible God . . . in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col. 1:15, 19). This is ever our direction—toward Jesus. And, second, in Jesus, we come to understand that our way to God is God. Ever moving toward a future we do not see and an eternity we cannot fully comprehend, Jesus lovingly exhorts us that to know and believe him is the only security we need.
Truth and Its Steadfastness
When feelings shift to the irregular rhythms of unexpected circumstances, we need to hear who this Person is. As John reminds us, life consists in knowing him: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).
With this in mind, Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:17 (NIV) is full of compassion and love: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better” (emphasis mine). For every believer, gaining life in the Way requires both knowing and believing truthful information (1 Tim. 2:3-4). Maturing in life in the Way requires knowing and believing increasingly more truth (Heb. 5:12-14). When we want to grow in inner resolve about our faith, we can join Paul in seeking and praying for the intake and understanding of knowledge, according to what Jesus has come to tell us about Himself, by the help of the Holy Spirit.
We have the eternal privilege of being recipients of true, error-free words about God, and we who believe in Christ personally have eternal life in being covered with his blood for the forgiveness of our sins. Through Scripture, we hear of our access to God made possible “by the new and living way that he [Jesus] opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh” (Hebrews 10:20). The truth of Scripture informs us about how we come to know God in Christ and how spiritual life is sustained and supported; biblical facts are not dull. They are divine.
Jesus is the only way to eternity in heaven, he says—yes, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We may have difficulty keeping pace with our own experiences and feelings. But life is not intrinsic to either attainment. We can find rest amidst unstable days in turning to Jesus whose exclusive claim on spiritual truth makes him our steadfast rock of salvation.
He does not only teach us truth—he is Truth. He does not simply show us the right way—he is the Way. He does not only impart life to us—to know him is life. When we are filled with questions about the direction for our lives, we can remember the essential direction he has revealed for us to go: into him. And we can remember the essential question of the future Jesus has resolved for us: who he is.
This post was originally published at Hope Mommies.
David S. Dockery, ed., Holman Concise Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 483.
David S. Dockery and Timothy George, The Great Tradition of Christian Thinking: A Student's Guide (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), Kindle edition, Kindle locations 976-979.
Edwin A. Blum, “John,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985).
Marvin Richardson Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887), 2:241.