The Way, Truth, and Life
Someone’s last words are important. When a loved one speaks just before he passes away, you should listen carefully.
This is what’s going on in John 14. Jesus is with his disciples in the room where they have celebrated one last Passover. But celebration is far from their minds, for the Lord is about to be betrayed and arrested. Soon He’ll be dead. The dark shadow of the cross is looming over his words in verse 6,
I am the way, the truth, and the life.
The next days were going to be unspeakably painful. Yet it had to be this way: the cross was needed because our sin had estranged us from our holy Creator. Our unholiness meant we were banished from God’s presence and barred from ever coming back on our own. Only God could open another way. So on this night before the cross, Jesus announces the gospel by saying that He is “the way.”
We get a picture of this from the ancient world. Imagine a powerful king seated on his throne. Access to his presence is carefully controlled by one of his officials. Not just anyone can approach—and certainly not uninvited. If you dared to come near, it’d probably mean a summary execution.
But supposing that the king had a cherished son, he would put aside the requirement. No permission needed: his son could freely enter. And even the friends of the son, if they accompanied him, could go in to see the king.
That’s who Jesus is: He is the beloved Son. And when we sinners go with Christ, He is our way back to the heavenly Father.
When Jesus says, “I am the way,” He says He is willing to take us by the hand and bring us into God’s presence, even into the glory of God’s holiness. Because Christ died for sin, the way to God is now open.
You’re allowed to pray to God whenever you want. You’re allowed to meet with God in worship every Lord’s day. You’re allowed to hear God’s voice in the Word as often as you open it.
There is just one requirement to go this way: be united to Christ by faith. Remember who was allowed to go in and see the great king: only those who are the friends of the son. And who are his friends? Christ says in John 15:14 that his friends are those who know the things that He says and also put them into practice. For you’re known by the company you keep. You begin to resemble the people you spend a lot of time with. So are you the friend of Christ? Being near to Christ, are you being conformed to him?
It’s only by listening to Christ that we find answers. For in the same breath He also says, “I am the truth.” This is not truth in the abstract, like taking certain facts as settled and certain, like √49 = 7 and “spring comes after winter.” Jesus speaks about the most important thing a person can ever know: the truth about God. Who is God? What is God’s will and purpose for us? And how can a person live to please him?
When we have Christ, we have access to the very truth of God. For to know the Son is to know the Father! Though God is far above us—eternal, immortal, invisible—in Christ we learn about God’s character. For when we look at Jesus, we see the God of amazing grace. At the same time, we see the God of steadfast patience and never-ending faithfulness. When we look at Jesus, we see the God who is perfect justice, awesome holiness, and heavenly majesty.
In many of the religions in this world, God is the mysterious Other. The gods are impenetrable, usually distant, and often unpredictable. And even when people say that they’ve rejected organized religion, many remain looking for higher meaning and deeper purpose. Blaise Pascal famously called it a “god-shaped hole” in everyone’s life. Such a god is elusive, always shifting in in shape and meaning. But God allows us to know his truth, with no need to presume or speculate or imagine. We know it from his Word, and we learn it from Jesus his Son.
Christ also shows the truth of what God expects from us: Love God. Trust Jesus. Serve your church. Love your neighbour. If you know Christ, then you know what so many today still don’t. You know the truth that is able to set you free!
For the best life—the only life—is the one where you are right with God. It’s when you have a living communion with your Creator through his Son, in the power of his Holy Spirit. This relationship has an unmistakable way of changing everything about you.
So it’s not enough to have found the way to God, knowing who Christ is. It’s not enough to have learned much truth about God. We also need someone who can make us alive. And this is who Christ is: “I am the life.” He restores our life to how it was always meant to be: enjoyed with God, even in his very presence.
We don’t have to wait ‘til heaven for that gift. When we believe, we’ve already crossed over from death to life. Already we have a real sense of the joy and peace of being in the Father’s house.
There is a way to the Father, and the way is wide open.
There is a truth about God that can be known for certain.
There is a life with him that lasts forever.
And you can get it all through faith in Christ Jesus!
[The Seven “I Am” sayings in John - Part 6]