One of the most profound, but possibly arrogant things Jesus ever said is found in John14. Many people, Christian or not, know this mind boggling statement. Much of Christian Theology is based on it. Some people find it affirming and comforting, others may find it arrogant and exclusive. When you really think about it, the statement is off the wall. To think that someone would say such a thing about them self and expect people to believe it. No wonder they wanted to kill him.
The words we’re talking about are found in John 14:6. Jesus says that he is ‘The Way, the Truth and the Life’ and that no one goes to the Father except through him. Those are some lofty words. By this point in Jesus life, he had revealed who he was, God’s Son, God in the flesh. He had said and done things that left people with a choice: he’s either a nut case or a he’s the real deal? CS Lewis said that Jesus was either a lunatic, a liar, a legend or…he was actually Lord.
Jesus words in John 14 can truly stand alone. However, words in scripture never do. By that we mean they are always found in a larger text, and we understand them fully in that text.
John 14 starts with Jesus trying to comfort his disciples. In the previous chapter, Jesus begins to let them in on some important info: he’s on his way out. Jesus lets his closest followers know that his time on earth is coming to an end, and they don’t like it one bit. Actually they are quite confused and want some clarity, mainly, where is Jesus going and how can they get there? This is why the first words of John 14 are, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled”. Jesus is comforting his disciples, he does that by reminding them about a few important things.
Jesus is working for them
“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2)
The first piece of info Jesus uses to comfort his disciples is to confirm that he is in fact working for them and has always been planning and plodding to ensure that they would be where he will be. The term ‘Father’s House’ was only used one other time in John’s gospel (ch. 2) and is in reference to the temple, which historically was the place where Heaven & Earth meet. When Jesus says he’s preparing a place, it’s a metaphor for a space that will bring to fruition God’s presence and our world becoming one. It’s a place where our prayer for his Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven is realized.
My friends have a cottage that I just think is beautiful. It was tough to navigate how to get there, but once we arrived we saw workmanship that you don’t see in too many cottages. My friend’s Dad is the one who built every part of that cottage. From the log walls to the hand picked wooden branch railings. Every part of that home communicates one big idea, “I love my family and I want this place to represent how much we long spending time together”. That folks is what Jesus is communicating to his disciples.
Jesus is the Way
The disciples needed a little more convincing. It’s almost as if they’re saying, ‘thanks for painting a beautiful picture of your plans for us, but how in the world are we going to find it?’
This is where Jesus famous words come in. He says that all they need to do is look to him, because he is the way…to the Father…and there’s no other way. Remember, these words are to aid Jesus’ purpose at the beginning of John 14. He wants to encourage his disciples and settle their hearts. Giving them direction and destination eases their fears about how in the world they are going to find him once he leaves.
These words from Jesus have been seen as arrogant and confusing. Some have wondered how Jesus could be so exclusive and say that he is the only way to God. I can understand why some would feel this way, however, when you think about it, how many ways do you really think can get you to God. If we think that every way gets you there, then no way will get you there.
And think about this: what are the ‘ways’ Jesus shows us his relationship to the Father’s heart? It’s how he lived, how he treated people, how he died for the world. His ways include…
– washing people’s feet
– treating woman & children with dignity (in an era that treated them inhumanely)
– extending wedding parties with vintage wine
– turning the other cheek and extending peace instead of violence
– weeping for his friends, healing lepers, sharing a drink with sinners
That’s not arrogant or self- serving; it’s the opposite!
If those are Jesus’ ways, then I want that way too – I want his way – I want to follow Jesus.
Jesus is God
What’s very important here is how many times in the gospels Jesus tells us that when we are looking at him we are looking at God. He tells Philip in John 14, “when you see me, you’ve see the Father.” What makes Jesus’ statement about being the way, both more valid and more outrageous is that he actually tells us that he is God. We see God clearly when we look at and look to Jesus.
Paul helps us with this through his words in Colossians 1. “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation. For in him all things were created…He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Jesus is more than a road on a map, he is the map. He’s more than a car on the road, he’s a tour bus that brings us all with him.
Jesus invites them to participate in his mission
The last part of this text might be the most puzzling and yet most exciting. Jesus says that we will do what he did…and even greater. Again, these words are supposed to be comfort to some confused disciples. Comforting words normally include rest and relaxation, instead Jesus invites us to work, to serve, to do the same kind of Kingdom things that he himself did. We see lots of this happening in the first few chapters of Acts.
The beauty of this is that we’re invited on this journey, not alone, but in community. We call that the church.
we are a JESUS community
Let’s look back. Over the last few posts we’ve tried to define what it means to be us, and by us I mean the church community we call The Village. We’ve said that we are a learning community; one who discovers the gospel together. We’ve said that we’re a living community; one that not only hears the words of Jesus, but attempts to actually live them. We’ve said that we’re a loving community; one that loves like Jesus and loves because of Jesus. Lastly, and most importantly, we are a Jesus community. He is at the centre of our faith. If we were to look at our faith like we look through a camera, Jesus would be the focal point and everything else falls into place in the peripheral.
In John 6, some people weren’t so sure if following Jesus was all it was cracked up to be. These people started to walk away from him. As they do, Jesus turns to his disciples and says, ‘how about you, do you want to go too?’ They respond with this, “Lord, where are we going to go, you have the words of eternal life”.
Once Jesus’ words hit us, once the gospel really sinks in, once we realize that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life – we really can’t go anywhere else. He’s ruined us. In a good way. Because we know that through him, we have relationship with God, now and forever.
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small(er) group questions:
What about Jesus? What words do you use to describe him? What do you think about his profound statement: that he’s the WAY, TRUTH, LIFE?
Why would Jesus’ disciples need comforting? Can we compare our faith experience with theirs? Do we need pats on the back in our faith journey?
If Jesus’ words are true, and he is preparing a place for us, how does that impact me today? How do his plans for my future effect my life in the present? How do you feel Jesus is working ‘for’ you? (John 14:1-3)
Is Jesus outrageous statement in John 14:6 arrogant or loving? Is it hard to believe or a welcomed truth? What do you think?
How do you think his words encouraged the disciples? Do they do the same for us?
How does Colossians 1:15 & John 14 work together?
What could we possibly do that is equal or greater to what Jesus did? (John 14:12)
We are a learning, living and loving community. More than that…the central element…is that we are a JESUS community. Why is this so essential?
(Our learning, living and loving is all based on Jesus and his message.)
(Try going back and re-answering the first question)