Summary: The most outrageous assertion Jesus ever made was “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me.”
Faith Under Fire
Is Jesus the Only Way to God?
Jesus often surprised people with teachings that cut across the grain of human nature. Lose your life to save it. The first will be last. The meek will inherit the earth. Rejoice in persecution. Pray for your enemies. It’s better to give than receive. Turn the other cheek.
But, by far, the most outrageous assertion Jesus ever made — His most politically incorrect claim of all — was when He declared in JOHN 14:6: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me.”
This claim rankles people like no other. It’s been called arrogant and narrow-minded and bigoted and snobbish. Some of you are seekers, and something inside of you chafes at this claim. For you, it may be a stumbling block to faith.
But I believe that Jesus was telling the truth when He said it. And I believe He said it out of great compassion, not arrogance. And I believe that when we look closer at it, this statement makes ultimate sense. In fact, I believe this single sentence is one of the most critically important bits of information on the planet — and to you personally.
So why is this claim so controversial? One reason is that it strikes at the core of three great myths about religion. And so in examining this statement by Jesus, I thought it would be a good idea to address these three common misconceptions. Maybe these are myths you’ve heard — or maybe they’re myths you believe right now.
So let’s deal with the first myth, which is this: When you get right down to it, all religions are basically the same.
You’ve probably heard people say that although there are surface-level distinctions between the various world religions, if you strip them all down to their essentials, all religions fundamentally teach the same thing — so it doesn’t really matter which one you follow. In other words, all spiritual paths lead up the same mountain because all religions basically teach the brotherhood and sisterhood of men and women and the universal fatherhood of God.
Now, there is some common ground between many of the world’s religions, particularly concerning certain basic values and morality. But there are significant differences, too. In fact, with this one outlandish assertion, Jesus boldly puts Christianity in a separate class by itself. If the path to God is through Jesus, then Christianity cannot be reconciled with any other religion. This uniqueness of Christianity is rooted in the uniqueness of Jesus Himself.
Someone once noted that other religious leaders say, “Follow me and I’ll show you how to find truth,” but Jesus says, “I am the truth.”
Other religious leaders say, “Follow me and I’ll show you the way to salvation,” but Jesus says, “I am the way to eternal life.”
Other religious leaders say, “Follow me and I’ll show you how to become enlightened,” but Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.”
Other religious leaders say, “Follow me and I’ll show you many doors that lead to God,” but Jesus says, “I am the door.”
Then, Jesus says, “So follow Me.”
Do you see the difference? For a long time people have tried to harmonize the various religions of the world, but there are drastic and irreconcilable differences between Christianity and other belief systems.
Every other religion I’ve ever seen is based on people doing something — through struggling and striving — to somehow earn the favor of God. They say people have to use a Tibetan prayer wheel or go on pilgrimages or give alms to the poor or avoid eating certain foods or pray in a specified way or go through a series of reincarnations or wherever. They are the attempts of people to reach out to God.
But Jesus Christ is God reaching out to us. Jesus taught the opposite of what other religious teach. He said nobody can do anything to merit heaven, so we might as well give up trying.
He said we’re all guilty of wrongdoing — and that’s consistent with our experience, isn’t it? Nobody here would claim to be perfect. And Jesus said that our wrongdoing separates us from our holy and perfect God — and, again, that’s consistent with our experience. Haven’t you ever felt distant or disconnected from God? Of course you have.
Because God is a righteous judge, our wrongdoing has to be paid for. So out of His love, Jesus voluntarily offered Himself as our substitute to pay the penalty that we owed for our sin. And when we receive His sacrifice on our behalf, we become reunited with God for eternity.
As we say around here, other religions are spelled “D-O,” because they teach that people have to do a bunch of religious rituals to try to please God. But Christianty is spelled “D-O-N-E” because Christ has done it all on the cross — and we just need to receive Him.