John’s gospel contains Jesus’ seven “I am” statements. Last week, we heard Jesus say, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.”
This week, we get another of the “I am” statements. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me.”
The first thing to note is that Jesus’ claim to be the way to God echoes his earlier claim to be the gate for the sheep. I am the gate; I am the way. The second thing to note is that Jesus is elaborating on going to prepare a place in his Father’s house (verse 2).
In verse 4, Jesus tells his disciples, “You know the way to the place where I am going.” This provokes Thomas’ response, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus’ answer is regarded as one of the clearest summaries of the Christian gospel. “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me.”
Jesus says, “I am the Way.” But what exactly does he mean?
Suppose you find yourself in a strange town, and you stop and ask for directions. The person answers, “Take the first on the right, and then the second on the left. Keep on going through three sets of traffic lights, and then take the second (or is it the third?) exit on the new roundabout. Follow that road for about mile-and-a-half and you’re there. You can’t miss it!”
Most of us would be completely lost before we got halfway. But, suppose the person were to say to you, “Come on, I’ll take you there.” Then the person becomes for us the way, and we won’t get lost, unless we get separated from them.
This is what Jesus does for us. He does not just give us advice and directions and leave us to get on with it. Jesus take us by the hand and leads us. He doesn’t just tell us about the Way. He is the Way.
Jesus says in the same verse, “I am the Truth.”
There are plenty of people in the world who claim that they tell us the truth, and who want to tell us their version of the truth. But few have ever claimed to embody the Truth. Yet this is exactly what Jesus claims.
One all-important thing about moral truth is the character of the teacher.
Moral truths cannot be taught by words alone; they must be conveyed by example. And NO teacher has ever embodied the truths he taught as Jesus did. Many can say, “I’ve taught you truth.” Only Jesus can say, “I am the Truth.” Jesus is unique in that moral perfection finds its realisation in him.
Thirdly, Jesus says, “I am the Life.” Jesus was there at the creation of life itself: “In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” Here, the Greek word for life is “Zoe”, that is, “resurrection life”.
Here, in this one sentence, Jesus is saying, “I am the way to God. I am the source of all truth about God. I am the one in whom you will find resurrection life.”
The second half of the verse, “no one goes to the Father expect by me”, takes us back to the gate for the sheep. The sheepfold would have only one entrance; and Jesus is that entrance. Jesus is saying to us …
There is one God, with one kingdom, and one entrance; Jesus Christ. Only those who belong to Him will find a place awaiting them in his Father’s house.
Let us pray.
whose Son Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life:
grant us to walk in his way,
to rejoice in his truth,
and to share his risen life;
who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.
Revd Stephen Robertson
10th May 2020