Key Verse: Jn 14:5-7 – “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.”
As I shared in the last episode, we are using the book “The Reason for God” by Timothy Keller as a guide for this 90 day journey. We will be making references to the book over the course of this second season of the Jesus Habit Podcast, so I’d encourage you to pick up a copy of that book and read a chapter a week along with us.
Before we begin, You and I must enter into an agreement. As I read the following statement, I ask you to think about it and consider embracing it moving forward. If you can’t embrace it, I’d advise you not to continue listening. I know you’re not supposed to say that, but oh well. “I will not use this information to argue with non-believers in an attempt to elevate myself or my faith. I receive this information for the building up of my faith and so that I may be able to have a loving dialogue with the skeptics God has placed in my life. I understand it is not my job to argue someone into the faith but to merely be ready to give a reason for the hope that I have in Christ.” That’s the agreement. I have no desire to contribute to the division in the world today. I firmly believe the gospel is about unification not separation. Any time we find ourselves trying to argue to prove our point, we’re on the losing end. Those who disagree with us are people made in the image of God. Not only do they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, but they need to know and experience the love of God through you and me. Let’s not screw that up by trying to win a debate.
Throughout the course of this week, we’re going to be looking at the Biblical argument for Jesus being the only way to God. As we have just read, Jesus said of himself that He is the only way to the Father. John 17:3 tells us that eternal life is knowing the Father and the one the Father sent – Jesus.
In response to Thomas’ question: “How can we know the way?” Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Why? Why didn’t Jesus just say that He is the way? That’s the question that Thomas actually asked.
Well, this is just my theory, but I think the reason Jesus said the way, the truth and the life was because that’s what he meant. Okay, of course He did. But, I think these are three inseparable components to the whole of being a Christ follower. You can’t just follow the path of Jesus, you have to become the truth in the same way Jesus was the truth (He said I am, not I know), and you have to have the life of Christ as well.
In our highly compartmentalized world, we would rather have the way separate from the truth separate from the life. But, while we do get the luxury of choosing whether or not to follow Jesus, we do not get the luxury of deterring from what it means to be one of His followers. That’s His call.
By saying “I am the way” it would appear that Jesus is not talking about a treasure map. It’s not 20 paces from the old tree, 30 paces to the creek and 17 paces to where the “x” marks the spot. As much as it’s about the journey or path of following Christ, it’s about the way we live, think, act and make decisions. The word can mean both. So, Jesus talking about himself being the way, likely wasn’t only a reference to entering through his flesh that he would sacrifice. It’s also about how we live. In fact, the early church was called “the Way”, a name I actually prefer to “Christian” because of all the baggage that is now associated with the term “Christian.” They were the people of the way. “This is the way, walk in it.”
I think it’s even more than that. It would also seem that the way of Jesus isn’t just about behavior as so much of Christianity has focused on. It’s also a way of thinking, feeling and decision making. In other words, the whole of our inner life is supposed to be so consumed with Christ that we think like Christ, feel like Christ and make decisions Christ would make.
By saying “I am the truth”, Jesus is saying “I am what’s real, I am reality.” People have described the Kingdom of God as the “upside down world”, probably in reference to the Netflix show “Stranger Things” that features a reality or alternate dimension that occupies the same space but is entirely different. However, I think that’s exactly backwards. We live in the upside down. The way the world is right now is not how God originally designed it nor is it how it is going to end up. More on that later this week. This is the upside down. The Kingdom of God is right-side up. God’s way is the right way. God’s reality is the true reality.
When Jesus leaves his rightful place behind and enters into our reality, He’s leaving the right-side up dimension and enters the upside-down, fallen dimension. But, Jesus refuses to participate by the rules of the upside-down world. He does not embrace sin or selfishness. He even has a ministry of restoring things that the upside-down had taken away.
Jesus is what’s real. Jesus is that which corresponds with reality. By saying He is the truth, Jesus leaves no room for intention alone. Our lives have to correspond with the reality of the Kingdom. It’s not enough to have the way (the thinking, feeling and decision-making) of Christ, our lives have to correspond to the reality of Christ.
When He says that He is the life, I can only imagine he has in His mind the fact that he will “be raised on the third day.” His life is the life we were meant for. His resurrected body is one we will receive (We will be like him when we see him…1 Jn 3:2). And as we’ll see later this week, God has a plan to redeem and restore the entire upside-down world to the one He had in mind from the beginning. A world where He is our God, we are His people and He dwells in our midst. That is life. Anything outside of this parameter claiming to be life is a fraud.
For that matter, anything claiming to be the way, the truth or the life outside of God’s parameters for it is a fraud.
The way, the truth and the life. Not only is this Jesus, this is our destiny. God wants us to be the way, the truth and the life. God wants us to walk in the way of God and model the way for others to follow. God wants our lives to correspond to the reality of His Kingdom and not the kingdoms of this world. God wants us to be the visible tangible expression of what the real life in Christ is supposed to look like.
Yes, Jesus is THE way. But He is also THE truth and THE life. There is no replacement for Him in any of these three areas. As much as our society may try to replace Him with the pursuit of pleasure, personal fulfillment, personal regulations, Jesus will never be found there. Those aren’t ways to find Jesus. Because there is no life in them.
In fact, I would propose that these three statements could serve as a test for true, authentic Christianity. Is it the Way of Christ joined with the Truth of Christ to the Life of Christ? Are they all equally present? They should be. Our lives should equally express the way, the truth and the life of Christ. This is a good personal test. Does my life display each of these three, or am I heavy on one and light on the others?
As we go through this week, I want to reiterate, according to Scripture why we need Jesus and why He is the only way. This is an important truth that many today are either neglecting or abandoning all together. In doing research for His book “Ready to Return” Ken Ham and America’s Research group discovered that 65% of millennials who regularly attend churches in the USA think good people get to heaven.
Why is this so critical? It impacts how we live our our faith. And It impacts how we view people who don’t believe. If we believe that our faith is a way to God, but that there are other viable ways to God as well – then what keeps us from jumping ship when things get difficult? At the same time, if we believe that there are many ways for “good” people to get heaven (another problem we’ll discuss later this week), then why should I bother telling them about my way?