Deuteronomy 32:1-18; John 14:1-6
The past few Sundays, we heard some astonishing claims of who Jesus Christ claims to be. Instead of allowing our culture, our circumstances, or our feeble minds to define Jesus Christ, the purpose of our summer sermon series is to allow the Scriptures, God’s authoritative Word, to give its true witness of who Jesus Christ truly is. In this time and age, I think it is extremely important to know the Jesus of the Bible; the true Jesus, who is revealed to us in Scriptures.
Seven times in the gospel of John, Jesus introduced Himself in a certain way that revealed part of His identity and His mission. Scholars call those declarations the “Seven I am Statements.” Those statements have some great implications not only on our understanding of the God we follow, but also on who we are. So far, we have covered 5 claims. Jesus claimed, “I am the Bread of Life; I am the Light of the World; I am the Gate for the Sheep; I am the Good Shepherd; and I am the Resurrection and the Life.” Today we will be looking at the Sixth Statement.
The Exclusivity of Jesus’ Path
Today’s Statement is even more profound and controversial. In His response to a question from Thomas, one of the disciples, Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” This is probably the most exclusive statement ever made by anyone. In our pluralistic society and relativistic age, it sounds so intolerant, arrogant, narrow-minded and is very offensive to so many people. If only Jesus had said, “I am one way, one truth, or a way of life” then people could accept it. But Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
You may be surprised to know that there are many other Scriptures in the New Testament that echo this exclusivity of Jesus as the only Way to God. Let me give you a few examples. In Matthew 11:27 we read, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Also, in Acts 4, Peter and John stood and witnessed before the Council in Jerusalem and in Acts 4:12 we read, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mortals by which we must be saved.” The gospel writers and early Church never compromised this message. Earlier in the gospel of John in John 10:9 Jesus spoke of Himself as “the Gate” through which His sheep enter into salvation. I am sure they faced the same challenges we face today. Let’s now look at this Sixth Statement found in John 14:6.
First: I am the Way
Jesus had just told the disciples that His journey on earth is coming ending soon. He was going to leave them to go back to the Father’s glory. Their hearts were so troubled as they heard this. Jesus told them He is going ahead of them to prepare them a place. When the place is ready, He will come again to take them. Then Jesus states, “And you know the way to the place where I am going.” At this point, Thomas asked, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
You probably heard the joke: Why do so few people get to heaven?” The answer is, “They never stop to ask for directions.” And that is very true. But I am glad that Thomas did ask for directions here. And I am more glad that Jesus told him the way. Jesus says there is only one way to heaven. There is only one way to the Father’s presence. There is only one way to the Father’s house. In Proverbs 14:12 King Solomon said, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”
Second: The Truth
Jesus was not only saying, “I am the Way” but He added, “I am the Truth.” What is truth? In John’s gospel the noun “truth” (alētheia) appears 25 times. In John’s gospel, alētheia, “truth,” carries the idea of “authenticity, divine reality, revelation.” The dictionary says truth is, “a certainty concerning any matter; a verified fact or statement; that which is real, steadfast and faithful. It is the opposite of lies, falsehood or deceit.”
A survey has been taken recently that asked, “Do you strongly agree, agree somewhat, or strongly disagree, with the following statement: There is no such thing as absolute truth.” The result was only 23% of the participants strongly agreed in “absolute truth.” Today people want to believe in what they call, relative truth. What that means is that truth is relative to each individual. It means that what is true to one person doesn’t have to be true to someone else. Although I believe all religions contain some truth, Christ is the absolute truth. Friends, the devil doesn’t mind a little truth.
Third: The Life
Finally, Jesus declares that He is the Life. Again, John’s gospel overflows with this theme. Jesus brings eternal life. In fact, He is the very source of life – both physical life as Creator, and eternal life as our Savior. In John 1:3-4 we read, “Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all people.”
Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471), a German priest who wrote The Imitation of Christ, put it well. He said, “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 abide in my way you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free, and you shall attain life everlasting.” What a powerful insight!
Friends, today’s statement is a tough one! Yet, personally, it brings so much joy and comfort to my heart to know that my Lord and Savior is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is not the purpose of my sermon this morning to send anyone to hell. It is not my purpose today to demonize or condemn anyone. That’s not our job. The British theologian C.S. Lewis spent his life trying carefully to define and advocate for orthodox theology. An important text for Lewis was that obscure moment at the end of John’s gospel in chapter 21:22 when Peter asks Christ, “What about this other disciple (John), what is his ultimate fate?” Christ responds, “What has that to do with you? Follow me!” Rather than preaching John 14:6 to determine who is on the right way and who got the truth, we’ve got our hands full just trying to follow Jesus down His narrow way. In other words, our job is to follow the way of Jesus, embrace the truth of the Scripture, and allow His life to transform our lives without condemning, demonizing, or sending anyone to hell. In the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday, August 25, 2019)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor