10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings - what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen Him.”
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing His work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
Two of the most remarkable yet controversial statements made by Jesus are found in one verse in John’s Gospel: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
In this four-fold statement Jesus draws a clear distinction between the Christian faith and every other belief system. As He makes this proclamation, Jesus takes Christianity and sets it apart on its own. The choice we need to make for ourselves is to decide whether we believe what He says or not. Last Sunday we looked at some of the differences between absolute and relative truth. Defining your own truth to suit your own purposes and your own lifestyle is illogical, because truth must be defined by something or someone outside of ourselves. A simple example I used last week was 2+2=4. This is a mathematical truth. It is a law that is firmly established, and cannot be changed, no matter how much we might want it to be changed.
And so it is with the statement that Jesus makes in John 14:6. There is no room to debate what He says. He makes a truth claim which either is or isn’t. Either He is speaking the truth, or He is lying, and we each need to decide for ourselves whether we believe Him or not. That is the gift of choice we have, but either way we must decide.
You can’t look at the words of Jesus and study the remarkable claims He made and just shrug your shoulders and say, “Whatever.” There is no room for fence-sitting when it comes to Jesus Christ.
C S Lewis’ words are often quoted here, and I know I’ve used them in the past, but he really does hit the nail on the head so well: “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg – or else He would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was and is the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse, but let us not come up with any patronising nonsense about His being a great moral teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
So let’s look at the four truth claims He makes in John 14:6 in more detail. As we do so, just bear in mind that there is no room for relative truth here. You can’t take the words of Jesus and adapt them to suit yourself. They are either the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, or they are a lie…
1. I am the Way
Jesus clearly claims to be the only way to God. The apostle Peter in Acts 4:12 proclaims to the Jewish leaders, among them Annas and Caiaphas who were directly involved in having Jesus put to death, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
In our relative world today where we are encouraged to embrace different belief systems and to acknowledge that truth is what you believe it to be, you need to know that when you say Jesus is the only way to God you will be branded as narrow-minded and intolerant at best. It’s a politically incorrect statement to make today, just as it was in Jesus’ time, but He made it nonetheless. Now assuming everything else He said is true, then so must this statement be true. If Jesus really is who He claimed to be, then logic dictates that He is the only way to the Father.
But how is Jesus the way to the Father?
Firstly, by revealing Him to us. In John’s introduction to his Gospel he writes in 1:18, “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.” And in 12:44-45, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me.”
In the Old Testament, the main task of the priest was to represent the people to God, and God to the people. Because of their sin, the common man had no access to God, so He appointed the priests to offer sacrifices on behalf of the people. At the same time, whenever God had something to say to the people, He would do it through the priests. The priest was the way to God in those days. When we turn to the New Testament, a major theme of the book of Hebrews is the role of Jesus as our high priest. Hebrews 10:21-22 says, “Since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.” As Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2:5, “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
The way to God is open once more, and that way is through our great high priest, Jesus Christ.
2. I am the Truth
Before we’re able to grasp this claim of Jesus, we firstly need to try and answer the profound question asked of Him by Pontius Pilate: “What is truth?”
The meaning of the Greek words translated as ‘true’ and ‘truth’ in various Bible dictionaries and commentaries are (among others): “unconcealed, manifest, actual, true to fact, true in the sense of real, ideal, genuine, objective as opposed to subjective, reality lying at the basis of an appearance, the manifested, veritable essence of a matter, not merely verbal, but sincerity and integrity of character.”
A bit of a mouthful, but essentially, truth is something that can be proven, something that can be established beyond any doubt. Using our simple example again, I can prove to you beyond any doubt that 2+2=4.
Now when we consider Jesus’ claim that He not only speaks the truth, but that He is the truth, we apply the same principle as we do to His claim that He is the way: Assuming everything else He said is true, then so must this statement be true. It would make no sense for everything else to be true, except this one statement. It’s either all true, or none of it is. So if Jesus really is who He claimed to be, then logic dictates that He not only speaks the truth, but that He is the truth. How is Jesus the truth?
One of the most amazing things He says about truth is that it is something that can be known and applied in our lives. In John 8:32 He says, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” In other words, what He is saying here is, “Do you want to know the truth? Then come to me because I am the truth, and I will set you free.” Free from what? Free from the bondage of sin, and ultimately, free from the eternal consequences of sin.
In the opening scene of the first session of the Truth Project this question is asked: “Why did Jesus come into the world?” Jesus Himself answers that question in John 18:37. “For this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
Again, if we apply the understanding that if all Jesus says is the truth, and that if we believe in Him we must accept all He says, then He not only speaks the truth, but He is the truth. In His wonderful prayer in John 17 He says, “Your Word is truth,” and in the opening chapter of John’s Gospel it says that the “Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.”
If you believe in Jesus, then you believe that He is the truth, just as He claims in John 14:6.
3. I am the Life
In John 10 Jesus uses the analogy of Himself as the Good Shepherd, and in verse 10 He says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” What is life? Life in its simplest form is when all the bits and pieces inside our bodies are working relatively well and in harmony. Blood pumps through our veins, the various organs are doing pretty what they’re meant to do, and we’re able to breathe in and out and move around. You don’t need a medical degree to tell the difference between someone who is alive and someone who isn’t.
But Jesus says something very interesting in John 10:10. He speaks about life “to the full.” Now you don’t need to look very far to find non- Christians who are far fitter, healthier and stronger than most of us sitting here this morning, so when Jesus talked about living life to the full, He was clearly talking about much more than mere physical life.
Firstly, He offers us an abundant life that rises above the challenges and hardships we face on a daily basis. We all know that life is hard. Many of us are experiencing that right now, but Jesus promises us a peace that the world cannot give. John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
He gives us His love, which is beyond simple human understanding. Paul prays in Ephesians 3, “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” That’s what living life to the full is really all about. It is living in Christ, and for Christ. Our sinful nature spurs us on in our insatiable pursuit of fame and possessions, but sooner or later we reach a point where we have to hold up our hands and agree with the words of Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25 – “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” There’s an old saying that you can’t take it with you, but so many people live this life as if they intend to do just that. We all know that this life will end one day, but Jesus goes above and beyond the grave when He promises us true life. In fact, He not only promises life, but He promises us Himself, because He is life.
In John 3 He is having a conversation with Nicodemus when He says in verse 3, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Now Nicodemus was already alive. He’d already been born. His heart was beating, his blood was flowing and he was breathing in and out, but Jesus makes it very clear that unless he is born again, unless he comes to Jesus, the very source of life, Nicodemus would not see the Kingdom of God. So even though Nicodemus was physically alive, in reality he was dead. The life Jesus talks about is not this physical life that we see around us, but a whole new life – an eternal life, which is only possible through Him. Colossians 2:13-14 draws a clear distinction between spiritual death and spiritual life: “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross.”
Jesus not only offers us life, but He is life.
“I am the way and the truth and the life.” Those three truth claims point us to the logical conclusion that Jesus reaches in His next statement:
4. No-one comes to the Father except through me.
Of all the controversial statements Jesus made, this is surely the biggest. Even within the Church there are many Christians who find it hard to believe that devout followers of other religions are excluded from the promise of eternal life, simply because they are not Christians. Angus Buchan puts it like this: “Heaven is not for good people. Heaven is for Christians.” He’s offended many people with at statement, but all he is doing is proclaiming that no-one comes to the Father except through Jesus. This is such a stumbling block for so many, but the reality is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ, if true (that’s your choice, remember) is by its very definition exclusive. The way to eternal life excludes all other options. It might seem unfair or unreasonable, but that will not change the truth. One of the greatest lies that satan has foisted upon the human race is this: “It doesn’t matter what you believe, just as long as you’re sincere.”
If you believe in Jesus, then you must believe all He said – no more, and no less. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that all religions lead to the same God. In the words of 1 Timothy 2:5 again, “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” That is an exclusive truth claim that leaves no room for debate. 2=2+4 whether you like it or not, and Jesus Christ is the only way to God, whether you like it or not.
God loves everybody, regardless of their faith. For God so loved the world. That’s the message of hope we are to take into the world, but we cannot compromise on the only way to be reconciled to God: Jesus Christ. Don’t apologise for the exclusivity of the Gospel. You have no need to, because Jesus is the one who claimed to be the only way to God. It’s not something we made up.
So how do we win them over? Quite simple. Love them. Love them into the Kingdom of God.
Jesus truly is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the way to knowing and experience God. He is the truth that brings freedom from the guilt and the bondage of sin, and He is the source of life that is blessed now and will last for all of eternity.
We close with the same plea of Paul’s from Ephesians 6:19-20 that we used last week: “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”
Homegroup Study Notes
Last week we drew the distinction between absolute and relative truth. We all have our opinions on various matters, but when it comes to the truth claims of the Bible, there is no room for debate. We either choose to believe God, or we reject Him.
A modern trend is to try and contextualise the Bible, saying that many of the things it teaches are no longer relevant in the world today.
What examples can you think of, and what are some of the dangers in remoulding the Bible to make it more applicable to us?
Read John 14:6
Jesus makes 4 distinct truth claims in this verse.
Discuss each of them in your group.
If we claim to believe in Jesus as Lord and Saviour, then He is either “Lord of all, or not at all.”
What are some of the truth claims in the Bible that you struggle to understand or accept?
Close by praying that God would give us the courage to proclaim His truth boldly, yet with grace and love at the same time.