THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE
by Bob Wheeler
When Jesus told His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them He then added the comment, “And where I go you know, and the way you know” (John 14:4: NKJV). This is another one of those thought provoking comments by Jesus that mystified His listeners – a comment which has a spiritual import but which His listeners took in a physical sense. And so it was only natural that, on this occasion, Thomas would ask Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” (v. 5). And Jesus responded to that question with one of the classic statements in Scripture about salvation: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (v. 6). It is not matter of how one gets physically from point A to point B. Rather, it is a matter of how one gets reconciled to God.
“I am the way.” What separates us from God, what prevents us from getting to Him, is not a physical barrier. It is a moral one – our sin. And the means by which Christ will open up the way to the Father is through His atoning work on the cross. Only then can we be reconciled to God and have a relationship with Him.
But then Jesus also says that He is “the truth.” Post-Modern philosophers have questioned whether truth even exists. They say that we are faced with the brute facts of human existence. Beyond that anything that we say is pure fantasy or wishful thinking. But we did not get here by accident; we were created by an intelligent Supreme Being. And God’s creative will determines our meaning and purpose in life. But that truth, that meaning and purpose, can only be know though divine revelation. God Himself must tell us why He created us and what He intended for us.
The human race, however, is alienated from God. Through our sin and rebellion we have removed ourselves from God and have rejected revelation. That means that for fallen man truth is unknowable. Rather than acknowledge God as Creator and Lord we seek some alternative, and inherently false, explanation of reality. And this leads us into profound intellectual darkness. Secular philosophers cannot even be sure that external objects even exist. They are caught in a trap between rationalism (everything conforms to natural law, even human behavior) and irrationalism (there is no natural law: we simply exist). And what lies beyond the grace is a complete mystery.
Jesus, however, is “the truth” – the truth is embodied in Him. Because He came directly form the Father He knows perfectly the mind and purpose of the Father, and can reveal that to us. Furthermore, as John pointed out in the prologue to his Gospel, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3). He was, in effect, the Creator, and that means He could state authoritatively the rationale behind creation. His the One who reveals the truth. As the One through Whom all things were made He is the truth, the final explanation of reality.
And then He is “the life.” Because of human sin, the created world is subject to sickness and disease, and we must all face the inevitability of death. Death was the curse pronounced upon us because of our sin. But in His capacity as priest Jesus offered up the perfect sacrifice through His own death on the cross, and thereby opened a path of reconciliation with God. That means that we can experience spiritual life now, and a physical resurrection and eternal life later. In this way Christ can give life to those who put their trust in Him as Savior.
And so it is that Jesus says, “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Mankind’s basic problem is its alienation from God. It was to remedy that situation that God sent His only begotten Son into the world. His death on the cross was the atonement for our sin. This is the reason why Jesus is the only way to the Father. There are not “many paths to heaven,” as some imagine. What keeps us from God is our sin, and the death of Christ on the cross is the only atonement for that sin. That is why there is no other way to God but through Christ.
Dr. John Brown of Edinburgh summed it up well when he said, “There is no true happiness but in knowing, and being loved by, and having intercourse and fellowship with, the Father; and the Father cannot be acceptably approached either on earth on in heaven, but through him who is ‘the way, the truth, and the life’” (Discourses and Sayings of Our Lord, Vol. 3, p. 47).