“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
Jesus celebrated His last Passover meal with the disciples in what is known as the Upper Room. Earlier in the day, He sent Peter and John to find and prepare the room. He instructed them to look for a man carrying a jar of water. He would be easy to find. Women customarily transported jars of water on their shoulder. A man carrying water would be conspicuous. They were to follow him to a house and say to the owner, “‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?’ He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there” (Luke 22:11-12).
Pilgrims from all over the world thronged Jerusalem for Passover—the Feast of Redemption. The crowd swelled the city’s population, transforming its streets into a collage of ethnic sights, sounds and smells. The celebrants were oblivious to the event taking place in which an itinerant rabbi from Nazareth shared a final Passover—a last supper—with His followers.
Toward the end of the meal, Jesus delivered a farewell to His disciples. His discourse commences in the Upper Room (John 13:31-14:31), continues after the Passover meal (15:1-16:33) and concludes before His crossing to the Garden of Gethsemane (17:1-26). Jesus’ colloquy contains some of the most tender words in all Scripture.
Before leaving the Upper Room, Jesus confirmed that His earthly life was ending. He had previously predicted His death on only two occasions (John 7:33-34, Matthew 16:21). At the close of the meal, Jesus revealed the certainty of His departure. “My children, I will be with you only a little longer,” Jesus explained. “You will look for Me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come” (13:33). Knowing the disciples’ shock and sadness, Jesus comforted them. “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” Jesus assured them. “Trust in God; trust also in Me … 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” (John 14:1-4).
JESUS NOT ONLY POINTS THE WAY
HE IS THE WAY
Thomas spoke on behalf of the others. ‘”Lord,’ he confessed, ‘we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you really knew Me, you would know My Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him”‘ (14:5-7).
Jesus’ words reminded the disciples of fundamental truths of their Hebrew faith: the way to God, the truth of God and the life from God.
I Am the Way
The Hebrew scriptures addressed the way to God and the way people should live. Isaiah declared: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it”‘ (Isaiah 30:21). Later, the prophet named and defined the way to God. “‘And a highway will be there,’ the prophet proclaimed. ‘It will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it’” (Isaiah 35:8). The Psalmist expressed the prayer of God’s people: “Teach me Your way, 0 Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors” (Psalm 27:11).
Jewish sages looked forward to the coming of the Messiah. He alone would show the way to God and the way to live. Jesus more than fulfills the prophecy, for He not only points the way, He is the way.
I Am the Truth
For the Hebrew people (and most Eastern cultures), truth was more than a series of correct statements. They connected truth with a person. Statements were true because the people who expressed them were true. The Psalmist reflected on personal authenticity when he prayed: “Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name” (Psalm 86:11). Knowing God’s way and God’s truth results from an undivided relationship with Him.
Many people have told the truth; only Jesus embodies it. Parents, educators, pastors and others can say, “I have taught you the truth.” Only Jesus can declare, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). The truth is a Person-Jesus Christ.
I Am the Life
The writer of Proverbs reflected on mankind’s endless quest for a meaningful life. “These commands,” he noted, “are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life” (Proverbs 6:23). The Psalmist also affirmed, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).
Yet, even God’s words were not enough to give His creation eternal life. In God’s perfect plan, He sent His Son—the living Word (John 1:1-4)—so that all who believe in Him might experience a life bursting with joy. As Jesus declared, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (10:10).
The concluding sentence of the divine promise is all important. “No one,” Jesus affirmed, “comes to the Father except through Me” (14:6). He alone is the way to God. He alone embodies the truth. Through Him alone issues fullness of life.
Commissioner William W. Francis is a retired officer. He is also the author of The Stones Cry Out (USA Eastern Territory, 1993) and Celebrate the Feasts of the Lord (Crest Books, 1997), and is a frequent contributor to the War Cry and other Salvation Army publications.