I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life

I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life

I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

“I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).

Farewell Discourse. From John 13:31 to 16:33, Jesus engages in His longest conversation in the Gospels. It is His final message, His wrap-up teaching. He knows this is the last night with His disciples, and He has a lot He wants to communicate with His closest friends and followers. There is much that is happening then, and so His disciples are bewildered and discouraged. Jesus just finished washing their feet like a lowly servant. Confusing. He told them He is leaving. Earth-shattering. He told them one of them would betray Him and one would deny Him. Shocking. All of this is distressing to the disciples. So Jesus tried to encourage them many times during this conversation. He tells them to not let their hearts be troubled. I know this is all very difficult right now, Jesus said, but keep the Faith. Keep looking up. Trust me. Be at peace. Have no fear. His final word of encouragement concluded the Farewell Discourse in John 16:33, “These things have I spoken to you that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage. I have overcome the world.

The Father. From beginning to end, the earthly life of Jesus was all about the Father. In His Farewell Discourse, it seems He dropped the Father into every other sentence. The Father is the oxygen in every breath of Jesus. The Father was Christ’s North Star, it was how He navigated through His life and ministry. Jesus’ divine energy came from the Father, His single-minded destination was the Father. Jesus revealed the Father, showed the way to the Father, gave access to the Father. Jesus came from the Father and is returning to the Father. He  is in the Father, and the Father is in Him. Jesus and the Father are spiritually joined at the hip. of one Being and Essence. Jesus is the exact and perfect image of the Father. If you have seen Jesus, you have seen the Father. If you know Jesus, you know the Father. Jesus doesn’t speak on His own, but only what the Father wants Him to say. It is the Father living in Jesus who is doing the works of Jesus. The Father raised Jesus from the dead. The Father gave the Holy Spirit. And we will all finally make our home in the Father. Interestingly, Jesus, in His humility, defers to the Father, gives credit to the Father, points to the Father. “The Father is greater than I.” (14:28).

This intimate union between the Father and the Son is a tremendous mystery. Their communion defies the imagination. It certainly confounds the deepest of thinkers. “The secret of the whole world of humanity is the love between the Father and the Son. That is at the root of it all. Upon the love between the Son and the Father hangs the whole universe. What can it mean exactly, you know, I cannot tell you. Why the Lord must go and ascend to His Father, though with Him all the time and with Him at the moment, I cannot tell you; but it means something, as if there some center somewhere where this very body of His must be embraced by the arms of the Father before He was satisfied – as if He had to go back and tell His Father, ‘I have done it, Father, I have done it. It is over now and we shall have them all back by and by.” (George MacDonald, from his sermon Knowing the Risen Lord).

I AM. In His Farewell Discourse, Jesus twice claims His divinity with an I AM declaration. First with, I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And then with, I AM the True Vine. The most sacred Name in Judaism was Yahweh, I AM What I AM. Jesus claimed with His I AM metaphors to be co-equal with the Great I AM, Yahweh Himself. He revealed His divine Self by claiming the Name of I AM as His own. This is a scandalous claim, because He is claiming to have an eternal kinship with the Father. He thus forces others into a decision… No sane or honest person would claim to be equal to God. Well then, this claim may just be true, because it’s abundantly clear He is neither insane nor dishonest. Because of His good works and His successful exorcisms, Jesus is clearly not filled with the devil. So what’s left to believe? Jesus claimed to be the I AM.. Maybe it’s true after all!

To Know. Knowledge is a relationship word in the Scripture. The Bible says that one can only know something through personal involvement, through an intimate experience with whatever or whoever is known. Knowing something involves a heartfelt focus, an intense investment. To know something is to care for it, to give oneself over to it. Knowledge is a personal union with whatever is known. To know is to have a committed understanding of something or someone. One doesn’t know something unless it has changed the knower. Knowledge of Scripture is like this, or knowledge of someone. When Jesus talked about knowing Him and thus knowing the Father, it is this very experience He’s talking about. A knowledge of Him that is personal, intimate, committed. Knowing Him in a way that changes us. Knowledge that involves giving ourselves over to Him in a deeply personal way. Head knowledge is not sufficient, because it leaves the knowledge in the abstract. Limiting our knowledge to religious principles, doctrinal statements or theological propositions doesn’t go deep enough. Too many of us stop at talking about God, instead of talking to God. Intellectual knowledge is a dead end if disconnected from a personal relationship with God. Knowing God requires a personal investment, an intimate involvement. Otherwise it’s all just an idea. And God can tell the difference. The worst words any of us could possibly ever hear at the End is, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” (Matt. 7:33).

The Way. The Person of Jesus provides the only way to reach the Father. He is the only road to God. He is the pathway to Yahweh. Access to the Father is only through Him. As spelled out in the Gospels, Jesus is the only way to God and to abundant, eternal life. There is a Jesus way to do things, a Jesus way to live life. His way is energized by and rooted in love. Love is the Jesus way. He began His Farewell Discourse with this declaration, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35). Love is the distinctive way of life for Jesus-followers. Love is the defining lifestyle, now, and as it was in the early Christian community. In fact, members of the Christian Faith were even called people of The Way before they were called Christians (Acts 9:2). Early believers adopted the Jesus way, and were known by their love for each other.

“The Jesus way wedded to Jesus truth brings about the Jesus life. Jesus as the way is the most frequently evaded metaphor among the Christians with whom I have worked for 50 years as a North American pastor. The way comes first. We cannot skip the way of Jesus in our hurry to get to the truth of Jesus as He is worshipped and proclaimed. The way of Jesus is how we come to understand the truth of Jesus, by living Jesus in our homes and workplaces, with our friends and our families.” (Eugene Peterson).

The Truth. Jesus claimed that truth isn’t some abstract idea or principle. Truth is a Person. Truth represents reality, and Jesus embodies the true essential reality of God. Truth is the revelation of established fact, and Jesus represents the indisputable fact of God’s existence in the world. Truth is not tainted by error or falsehood. Jesus was pure truth, there was no falsehood in Him. Truth is an inextricable part of Jesus’ DNA. Truth and Jesus are indivisible, it is intertwined with His essence and character. So when He taught, He told others the divine truth. When He healed, He communicated the truth of God’s zeal for wholeness. Jesus contains truth the way water contains oxygen. A few hours after His Farewell Discourse with His disciples, Jesus would be standing face-to-face with Pontius Pilate. And Jesus told Pilate, “I have come into the world to bear witness to the truth.” And Pilate, ever the skeptic, then asked Jesus his famous question, “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38). Pilate didn’t realize it at the time, but he was staring at Truth full in the face. He was talking with Truth in the flesh, Truth with skin on. Jesus testified to the truth by revealing Himself, the Author of truth. Jesus came into the world to show us what truth really is, what truth looks like in real life.

The Life. John the Apostle was the resident expert on “life.” He wrote about life more than any other topic, it seems. Here are a few of his passages… “Whoever has the Son has life, whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.” (1 John 5:12). “I have come so that my sheep may have life, abundant life, life to the full and overflowing.” (John 6:19). “In the beginning was the Word… The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone.” (John 1:1,4). “Jesus declared, ‘I AM the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.‘” (John 6:35). “I AM the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51). “I AM the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26). “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:30-31). In Christ, eternal life starts now. Abundant, overflowing life starts now. We don’t have to wait for eternal life to begin, it has already begun.