Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ~ John 14:6
Over the course of my life, I don’t think I’ve ever heard an interpretation of these words as anything other than a doctrinal argument made by Jesus about his exclusive identity – as some kind of answer key to a fill-in-the-blank question on a test yet to come. Yet while these words continue to inform my belief, when I experience them relationally rather than doctrinally, I sense hope rather than a premise for exclusion. I hear a friend revealing more about himself to another friend named Thomas, who perhaps was struggling, like me, against cynicism and doubt and fear on his journey. I hear a friend preparing another friend for both heartache and joy. And this friend continues to speak.
When I’m in doubt about the way in which I am traveling – about the deeper motivations of my heart, when I search for decent footing but the darkness and fog of chaos prevent me from seeing my hand in front of my face, when I’m beset by those who adhere to the cynical view that the end justifies the means… I hear Jesus say, “I am the way.”
When I myself am drawn by cynicism’s siren song, whispering to me that no one and no thing and no event can ever be known truly, that life is a mirage of eternally shifting perspectives fueled by mindless desire, when I can no longer see beauty in mystery and can only sense meaninglessness… I hear Jesus say, “I am the truth.”
When I awake to news of terror and destruction, when I think about those all over the world oppressed by self-seeking powers, when I remember my dad who passed away not so long ago… I hear Jesus say, “I am the life.”
So I no longer think of these words of Jesus as arguments. Rather, I view them as introduction and beaconing, and I say yes to these words… to the way, the truth, and the life. In other words, I say yes to the one who speaks them – who is them. And when my view towards home is darkened and dim, he provides sufficient light for the road ahead.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “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. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” ~ John 14:1-7