Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 September 18, 2016
“Jesus: The Way, the Truth, and the Life”
Text: John 14:1-7
This week, after a one-week hiatus, we continue looking at Jesus’ I AM sayings, and today we arrive at the sixth of those seven declarations of Jesus. Jesus utters today’s I AM saying on the night of His betrayal—early in His extended teaching known as the Farewell Discourse (John 14:1-16:33). In the early part of this passage, Jesus comforts His disciples. He tells them He soon departs from them; He departs both to prepare them a place in His Father’s house and to bring them to it. Moreover, He tells them they know the way to the place.
Thomas doesn’t grasp this, and Jesus tells him more explicitly the way to the place—to wit, Himself. This explicit I AM statement, uttered in answer to Thomas’s question, is the focus of today’s sermon. Let us hear God, then, as He speaks to us by His Spirit in His written Word.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
The major portion of today’s sermon is a detailed examination of each component of Jesus’ I AM saying. Let’s begin—as has become usual—with the phrase I AM. Again we note that these phrases involve both implicit comparison and explicit declaration. That is, Jesus tells us here not only that He is similar to way, truth, and life, but also that He, God incarnate, is these very things. With this again noted, let’s proceed through the saying.
The word the is worth mention. When I was a senior at The University of Georgia, in the fall of 1990, there was a movement in at least one Christian denomination to declare Jesus, “…a way, a truth, a life.” I found this troubling, not only for the implications of such a stance, but also because of the apparent tampering with the Word of God. One late afternoon that fall, while working with a professor of mine in the Department of Religion on my independent study project, I asked him about this. He pulled his Greek New Testament (which I could not read at the time) from his shelf. He pointed to the same Greek definite article three times in John 14:6. His point was that Scripture says, “…the way, the truth, and the life” (emphases mine). The debate, for me, closed immediately. Jesus is the way, and the truth, and the life. Let’s unpack these lofty truths a bit more.
Jesus calls Himself the way. The Greek word here translated way may be translated way, road, or path, depending upon context. Jesus, therefore, is the very course to where He is and to what He has prepared for us. This is true throughout our lives on earth, this is true regarding Heaven, our intermediate Home, and this is true regarding our final Home—the new heavens and the new earth.
The case is similar to the various “No Outlet” signs that I see around here. The meaning is clear: There is but one way in, but one way out, and no other way either in or out. Such is the case concerning Jesus. There is but one way to where He is. ‘Tis Himself—and no other route; we’ll hear more about this later.
Jesus also calls Himself the truth. Many folk, in our current late-modern to post-modern culture, ask questions about what they observe, read, and the like. A representative sample of these questions includes, “Is it relevant or irrelevant?” “Is it beautiful or repellent?” and, “Is it trendy or passe?” However, there is one ageless question that, alas, increasingly is left unasked, “Is it true or false?”
Our culture either doesn’t think of the question, “Is it true or false?” or else it doesn’t think there is an answer to the question. This, though pronounced in our time, is no new phenomenon. Pontius Pilate, almost two millennia ago, expressed Himself in a similar vein—asking, “What is truth?” What is remarkable about this utterance is that Truth incarnate was standing right in front of him. Perhaps just twelve hours after uttering this I AM saying, Pilate failed to perceive it right before his eyes. Alas, many others have failed to perceive Him as well. Jesus is truth and declares truth—and, as Francis Schaeffer rightly stated years ago, “All truth is God’s truth.”
Jesus also calls Himself the life. Our culture imagines that to achieve some states of being is truly to live; it exclaims over these states that, “(Now) This is the life.” Some believe that financial well-being is life; to have such well-being is to live and not to have it is to fail truly to live. Others think true life consists solely in unhindered access to perceived pleasures. Still others think really living rests on the sole basis of the unsullied good opinion of other people. Of course, none of these—nor anything else like them—is real life.
Jesus is the life, and being in Christ is life for us (cf. Colossians 3:4). He Who is life gives life abundantly. That is, though He gives good gifts to everyone (common grace), He reserves special blessings solely for His redeemed (special grace). Those special blessings, which none save those in Christ know, we would rather have above all this world affords. More than this, such life never ends—it is eternal. In fact, it heightens immeasurably in eternity as we are delivered finally from the presence of sin—both within us and all around us. Now this is life—and nothing else may properly be called life.
Jesus continues in today’s text, “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” This utterance, though clearly true, admittedly rankles some. It sounds to some ears exclusive—and that in an age where what the culture calls inclusivity is almost deified. It sounds to other ears offensive—both to those who champion certain exemplary non-Christians and to those who espouse, “Do your own thing.” Others balk at the notion that, though there be so many truth claims (and some of them being ultimate truth claims), that only one of them is true. Better a few be true, or even none be true, than one be true—for it will compel allegiance.
I, for one, am glad there is one way. After all, there could be none—and the Lord would be wholly justified and no less worthy of worship were there no access to Him. Happily, though, we have wonderful access through the new and living way, Jesus Christ—and what a safe and secure way He is. Whoever comes to Jesus, He will never cast out (John 6:37). None will snatch us who are in Christ from His hand (John 10:28).
Therefore, if you be not in Christ today, then cry out to Him for rescue and healing. He will honor that heart’s cry—and afterward know yourself safe in Him. If you be in Christ today, then rejoice in Him Who is the way, the truth, and the life. Then continue in Him by the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit—both along the discipleship way and into eternal dwellings prepared in advance for you. This, then, is Jesus—the way, the truth, and the life.
 Some scholars assert that the Farewell Discourse begins prior to John 14:1. For these scholars, John 13:31 is a favored starting point.