Jn 14:6 The Only Way

Text John 14:6 Time 14/10/07 Place Childs Hill Baptist Church
We looked last week at a famous text, Romans 3:23, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. It is a famous New Testament text reminding us of our status by nature. We are sinners who fall short of God’s glory and unless he saves us then there is no hope for us.
This week I want us to turn to another famous New Testament text, an even more famous one perhaps. It is also, I suppose, a less negative, a more positive one. It tells us not only about our problems but also what the answer to those problems is. This time I want us to focus on words spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ himself. The text is found in John 14:6 where it says Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Once again it is a great text and one worth learning if you don’t know it already.
These words were spoken, of course, on the night that Jesus was betrayed, the night before his crucifixion. In John’s Gospel we have quite a full account of that night. All the way from John 13 to John 17, John describes what happened on that night and chiefly what Jesus said.
In Chapter 13 we have the footwashing and the discussion about who would betray Jesus, etc. Chapter 14 begins with Jesus saying Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house in heaven then there are many rooms, if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 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. You know the way to the place where I am going.It is this last comment that prompts the question from one of Jesus’s disciples – Thomas - in verse 5 - Thomas said to him, Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way? We don’t know much about Thomas but we get the impression from what we do know of him of a very loyal, even courageous disciple, but a rather nervy character who is full of doubts and fears by nature. Perhaps you can identify.
Jesus has spoken of his Father's house and its many rooms where he is going to prepare a place. Thomas is eager to go to that place but how exactly? What really is the way to heaven, to the place where Jesus has now gone?
The Lord Jesus encourages questions like this. He wants us to be honest. Just think, if Thomas had not asked this question we never would have had this wonderful answer - I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.It is in reply to this question then that Jesus says in 6 I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. He goes on (7) If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him. That leads to a further question from another disciple, from Philip, (8) Philip said, Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us. That question receives the answer (9-11) 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'? 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. 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, etc.All this extra material helps us to understand better what is being said by Jesus in 14:6.
One other thing worth mentioning here is that the phrase I am the way and the truth and the life is similar to a whole series of statements of Jesus preserved only in John’s Gospel. These are what we most often call the I ams of Jesus. There are seven altogether, all carefully chosen no doubt. The others are
I am the Bread of Life, I am the Light of the World, I am the Gate/door, I am the Good Shepherd, I am the Resurrection and the life, I am the True Vine.We can divide John 14:6 up into four obvious parts.
The first part is the most direct answer to Thomas's question about the way. The references to truth and life act in a supporting role to this statement (if the way is the star then the truth and life also play their parts. They serve to amplify and make clearer what may seem otherwise muted or unclear). The final clause gives an important summary conclusion.
1. Jesus is the way we need to walk to get to heaven and God
So think firstly of a path, a road, a way; a way that leads to heaven.
Jesus does not say as so many religious leaders have done 'this is the way' or 'that is the way' to heaven but rather I am the Way. Jesus is the Prophet who points us to heaven but he is more than that - he is the Priest who saves his people so that they have a right to heaven and he is the King who leads his people safely all the way there. He is not only our great example but also our great Saviour.
This is one of the things that distinguishes Jesus and points to him as Saviour. What you need to get to heaven is not a philosophy or a way of life but a person – Jesus Christ.
He makes clear then that he is not simply the pioneer, the one who blazes the trail to heaven but he is the way itself. He is the Saviour, the Lamb of God who takes away sin, the Ladder or stairway up to heaven, the one who can give eternal life.
All these ideas bring it home to us. Without him there is no going to heaven. Without him the way in remains firmly closed against us. It is as we come to God through him that we gain access to heaven. He is the one in whom we must put our trust.
Yes, at other times the New Testament stresses the difficulties of getting to heaven. We have to go through many troubles to enter the Kingdom of God. Here, however, Jesus teaches a more fundamental truth – that the way to heaven is through him.
If we remembered the way to heaven and to God then the difficulties in getting there would concern us less.
By nature we are wanderers – we wander far from the right pathway. We are exiles far from home, with no hope of heaven. However, in Christ we see the way back home, the way to heaven. By nature we are far from God and we cannot come to him – that is our greatest misery but Jesus is the Way to him – and the greatest joy we can know is to be brought to God through Jesus Christ. This happens when we put our trust, our confidence, not in ourselves nor in anyone else but in him.
By nature we are not on the road to heaven but Jesus is the way – come to God through him. Put your faith in him.
There are many today who lack direction, many who are wandering far and wide. People are lost. They don’t know where to turn. We need to let them know this glorious truth that Jesus is the Way.
2. Jesus is the truth we need to know to get to heaven and God
I suppose Jesus could have simply left it there – I am the way. That may perhaps have been enough. But he does not leave it there. He adds and the Truth. I am the Way and the Truth. Jesus is not only the way but also the truth.
So this time the picture is more abstract – truth. We can picture truth as a completed circle or a line that is absolutely straight. If a wall, say, is straight, we say it is true. To prove true is to remain loyal – not to let a person down. There is the path, then but there is also knowing the way to walk. 'Stick to the path' that's the key.
Again, however, it isn’t simply that he is true and that his way is true. He is not simply saying that his is the right way – many have said that sort of thing. It is not just that he truly will bring his people to heaven. He is the right way, of course, and he will bring those who look to him to heaven. He is not simply saying that he speaks the truth either – although that is again true. We can trust every word Jesus spoke. Rather he is saying that he himself is the embodiment of the truth, the truth personified.
All other ways are false. To trust in anyone else is to reject the truth and to reject the one who is the truth. We must put our trust, all of it, in Jesus Christ, who is the truth.
I know that there is this idea about today (and it has existed in the past) that truth is relative. You have your truth, I have mine. In fact truth is something objective. If we let go of that idea we will be in big trouble. That is the spirit of paganism not of logical scientific enquiry or of Christianity.
And so when Jesus says what he says he is not saying, as some Hindus might suggest, that he has discovered in himself his own way and his own truth. No, Jesus is saying that the truth, reality if you like, is found in him and in no-one else. We must see this. Not to believe in Jesus Christ is to believe a lie. It is to believe something that is false, something that will be discovered to be false in the end.
Don’t believe a lie. Believe the Truth. Believe in Jesus Christ who is the Truth.
In the Old Testament we have the promises but in Christ we have the fulfilment. All the promises are yes and amen in him (2 Cor 1:20). Jesus is also the Truth then in the sense of being the reality that all the types and shadows of the Old Testament were pointing to. All those sacrifices, the priesthood, the Temple itself, King David and King Solomon, the land itself – it was all pointing forward to the reality itself, Jesus Christ the Truth.
Don’t look to shadows or types, for mere pictures but trust in Jesus Christ, the Truth itself.
By nature we are not only not on the road to heaven but we do not even know where that road is. Jesus is the truth – know God by knowing him. Put your faith in him.
There are many today who feel all at sea. They find it almost impossible to relate to reality. People don’t know what to think. They don’t know who to trust. We need to let them know this glorious truth that Jesus is the Truth.
3. Jesus is the life we need to live forever in heaven with God
Again, Jesus could have stopped with I am the Way and the Truth. No, it is I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. Jesus is not only the way but also the truth and not only the truth but also the life.
This time we are thinking not just of a path and knowing the way along it but of the life that enables a man to travel along that road. By nature we are not able to take one step in the right direction – there I no life in us. But Jesus is the life, he gives us the power and the strength to live the life that leads to heaven. Eternal life is something that is found only through trust in Christ.
And so again we say trust I him. Eternal life, the true life that leads to heaven is found only in him.
Again it is not simply that he gives life but that he has life in himself. He is the source of all life. Apart form him there I no life – but only decay and death and deadness. He alone can bring a person alive from death so that he can walk the truth path to heaven.
Yet again we see the contrast with other religious teachers. This is how to live they say but they cannot say here is life, come to me for I have life in myself that I can give to you. Jesus is quite different to that. Cf John 5:24-26.
By nature we are not only not on the road to heaven and ignorant of where that road is. In ourselves we have no life to enable us to find and to travel on the road. Jesus is the life – become alive to God by receiving life from him. Put your faith in him.
There are many today who feel utterly dead and that is exactly their state by nature. They are cut off from God and life in him. People lack spiritual life. They are listless and languid and lacking in true life. They are dead in their trespasses and sins. We need to let them know this glorious truth that Jesus is the Life.
It is as we see that Jesus is the truth that we come to know him as the life and so find the way to heaven.
Thomas A Kempis has Jesus say "Follow me. I am the way and the truth and the life. Without the way there is no going; without the truth there is no knowing; without the life there is no living. I am the way which you must follow; the truth which you must believe; the life for which you must hope. I am the inviolable way; the infallible truth; the never-ending life. I am the straightest way; the sovereign truth; life true, life blessed, life uncreated. If you remain in my way you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free, and you shall lay hold on eternal life."
4. No-one can come to the Father except through Jesus
The final picture is perhaps a locked gate or door allowing admittance only to those with the key. Or better a sentry on guard at that door or gate.
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.It is often illustrated quite simply in this way. If I want to get from the front door of this church to the parlour behind me then I have to come through this room. Given the starting point and the destination it has to be that way. You can get into the parlour through the back it's true (and every illustration breaks down somewhere it's true) but that's not really starting from the front door. In the same way, of you want to go to God the Father (given our position, our state by nature) it has to be through the Son. There is no other way. It is not that we will not let you go some other way – it is simply that there is no other way given that starting point.
More simply there is only one bridge from hearth to heaven, only one bridge that will take you all the way – Jesus Christ.
Jesus is revealed in Scripture as the One Mediator between man and God. He is the only Way, the only Truth and there is no life except in him. If you want to pray to God – it has to be through him. If we want God to speak to us it is only through him that he will speak. If we want to go to heaven it is possible only through him. To live a life pleasing to God is only possible through him. Apart from him none of these things are possible.
Often people like to think that there are many ways to God but in fact there is only one. God deals with us all as individuals and no two stories are exactly the same but the actual way to God is the same in every instance for there is only one way – Jesus Christ. This sort of statement does get people quite upset at times but we need to be very clear about it.
Can you come to the true God through just any religion? Can you find God through Hinduism or Buddhism for example? No you cannot. It is only through Jesus Christ.
Can you come to the true God through Islam, through believing what Muslims believe? No. It is only through Jesus Christ.
What about Jews? Is simply believing the Old Testament Scriptures and living a good life enough? No, once again (and this is so offensive to some I know) it is not. Everyone Jew and Gentile must trust in Jesus Christ the only Messiah.
What is you simply say you are a Christian and do Christian things, is that enough? Again that is not enough. You have to come to the Father through Jesus Christ otherwise you have not come to God at all. There is no coming to God except through him. As Peter says (Acts 4:12) Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.It is clear then that we must all put our trust in him and in no-one else. Further, it means to say that we must let everyone know. If there is no other way of salvation but through Christ anything less than that will not do. We must let people know.