5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Thomas, one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, asks Jesus a very logical question. Jesus has said that they know the way to get where he is going. Thomas, probably speaking everybody’s mind in the room, says, “No, we don’t even know where you are going. If we don’t know where you’re going, we can’t possibly know the way.” This makes perfect sense, but only if Jesus is talking about going to a particular location. Jesus, as you will see, is not.
Verse six is one of the most often quoted verses of the Gospel According to John. It is a statement in which Jesus claims to be something, he says “I am” and then follows it up with what he claims to be. He has already claimed to be the bread of life, the light of the world, the door, the good shepherd, and the resurrection and the life. Here, he claims three things in one sentence. And, like the other 5 times before this one, this “I am” claim of Jesus’ is very important.
Jesus says that he is the way, the truth, and the life. The way that this sentence is written, it is clear that Jesus is claiming to be three distinct yet related things or concepts. His words indicate that he is uniquely each of these things, there is not another way, another truth, or another life. And all this is something he claims to be in the light of what Thomas asked him about how to get where he is going.
So, let’s do our best to take these three one at a time. First, Jesus claims to be the way. Thomas just asked where he is going, and assumed that he could not know the way to get where Jesus is going without knowing the actual destination. In response, Jesus tells Thomas, “I am the way.” This, ladies and gentlemen, is a profound and yet weird statement. When you think of a way, what do you think of? Perhaps a road comes to mind. Perhaps a trail pops up in your head. Perhaps a set of directions that you print out from MapQuest will be what you think of first.
Why does it feel so weird for Jesus to claim to be the way? It is because you expect someone to tell you that they know the way to get somewhere, not to be that way. If I told you that I live on Silver Street, you have no trouble understanding that . If I tell you that I am Silver Street, you might feel a little funny. But here Jesus goes, just claiming to be the way.
What concept is at stake here? It is a crucial one. Jesus wants his followers, including Thomas, to know and clearly understand that, in order to get to the proper destination, you do not look for a means to get to a destination that is beyond Jesus. Jesus is not a means you use to find the path to heaven. Jesus does not give you the teaching you need to learn your way to heaven. Jesus does not tell you the good things to do in order to make your way to heaven. No, Jesus tells you that there is only one way for you to get to heaven, for you to get to God, and that is him. Jesus will not show you a way that is somehow separate from him; Jesus is your only way.
With this concept in mind, it is a touch easier to understand Jesus claiming to be the truth. Think of how often you have asked a person to simply tell you the truth. When you ask them this, you are asking them to give you information. You are not, by any means expecting them to refer you to themselves. Yet, Jesus, in the light of his first claim, to be the way, goes another step further and claims to be the truth.
Here we go again. Jesus does not point his disciples to a truth that is beyond himself. Jesus does not tell them that he will tell them a truth that he knows. Nope, Jesus says that he is the truth.
Then, in his last statement in the first half of verse six, Jesus claims something truly amazing. He claims to be the life. Like seeking a way, like seeking truth, people often seek life. Here is the amazing concept: Jesus is not saying that he gives life, as if life is something to be had apart from himself; instead, Jesus tells his disciples that he, himself, Jesus, is the life. You do not go to Jesus to find a life that is apart from Jesus; when you come to Jesus, you find life when you find him.
So, do you feel lost? Are you looking for the way to God? Are you looking for the right path? Do not look to a religion. Do not look to a set of morals, values, or philosophies. Do not look for experiences, meditations, or deep feelings. No, if you want a path to God, there is only one, Jesus.
Are you confused? Are you sick of the deception and lies that are all over our news media? Do you want to know the truth? Don’t go to some library on a fact-finding mission. Don’t go to some kind of new age religion to get hold of a technique to open your mind. Don’t look for a set of facts apart from Jesus. Go to Jesus, he is the truth. He does not tell you truth, he is truth.
Are you wanting to get a life? Are you wanting to truly feel spiritually alive? Are you wanting to live forever with God? Don’t seek that life as something unique to itself. You do not find life as if life is a thing to be found. Jesus is the life. He does not give you a life that is somehow different than himself; he is the life.
And Jesus tells us that no one comes to the Father except through him. In case you are thinking that Jesus is telling you that he is one of many possible ways to God, think again. He makes it abundantly clear, in case the disciples missed his emphasizing the word “the” in calling himself the way, the truth, and the life, that there is only one way to God. If you want to be made right with God, Jesus is that way, the only way. This statement from Jesus is totally exclusive.
Now, just to do a little logic together, let’s ask the questions. If Jesus says he is the only way to get to God, what are the possibilities? Either Jesus is wrong, mistaken, confused, and there are other ways to God; or perhaps Jesus is lying, deceiving, tricking his disciples and there may be other ways to God. The only other option is that Jesus is telling the truth, and there is only one way to God, through Jesus himself.
So, if you are not sure where you stand before God, let me ask you this question? Have you come to God through Jesus? if not, you are not in God’s family, not forgiven by God. If you have tried to add something to Jesus, you have missed the point. If you have come to God, sort of through Jesus and sort of not, you have not come to God. If you want to be part of God’s family, if you want to be forgiven by God of your sin before him, you must come to him through Jesus.
And Christians, if you are listening to the words of the Savior here, you should learn that we are to develop a totally, Jesus-only vision of all things. Jesus points us to himself in all things. He does not want us to use him as a way to get to God, He is the way. He does not want us to seek him to learn some truth, Jesus is the truth. He does not want us to come to him to find life, he is that life.
Ask yourself, is your hope totally in Jesus or are you thinking that Jesus leads you to a way that is somehow apart from him? Ask yourself, do you think that there is truth outside of Jesus? Ask yourself, are you looking for Jesus to give you eternal life as if eternal life is somehow different from him? Folks, Jesus is how you get to God, not just a sign pointing you to God. Jesus is the truth, not just a truth teller. And Jesus is your reward, not just the means by which you get to your reward. He is not your ticket to heaven, he is your heaven because heaven is not heaven without Jesus.
Christians, God wants you to hear this, think about the awesome truth of who Jesus is, and worship him. Your life, from how you do things and how you think to what is your reward is totally wrapped up in Jesus. If you don’t know Jesus, you don’t know the way, you don’t know the truth, and you don’t have life. Develop a Jesus-only focus in life.