Summary: Jesus is the way back to God
Who Is God? What Is God?
How can we know the way to God? How can we see God? These questions return again and again during the course of the lifetime of a Christian – regardless of one’s faith and training.
The answer Jesus gives to us is very simple, yet so often hard for us to grasp.
We need to step back to the evening of the last supper. The disciples were gathered and Jesus was trying to make them understand the events that were about to transpire. And the disciples just couldn’t wrap their minds around its enormity. As they protested and questioned and scratched their heads, Jesus celebrated the Passover meal and washed their feet. But they were still troubled. It looked like they were about to become leaderless and they don’t know what to do or where to go.
Jesus responded to their fears with one of the most reassuring pieces of scripture:
“Let not your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1)
I can imagine that Jesus said this with deep sadness, eyes brimming with tears and his voice choked with emotion. He knew what was going to happen. Things were falling apart and he would soon face his ordeal in the Garden of Gethsemane and his crucifixion.
Yet he told the disciples not to be troubled. Why? Because he was preparing ‘a place for them in heaven. ‘ That was huge news to the disciples!
But that wasn’t enough for them. They kept questioning, again and again asking how and why and where. Jesus must have finally realized that the disciples did not have the knowledge he thought they had. When they continued to question, He chastised them for their non-belief and lack of understanding. Hadn’t he been teaching them and telling them of things to come since He first began his teaching? Weren’t they His chosen ones – and they STILL DID NOT GET IT!
All they had done was ask an innocent question:
“Show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” (John 14:8)
Jesus chastised them again, asking them why, after all this time, they still did not know him. They were just slow to catch on. Yes, He was a little blunt but Chapters 14-17 of John's Gospel are not called the ‘farewell discourse’ for nothing. He's leaving and they need to know the Way. The time had grown short. The hour was near. The clock had run out on subtleties.
From John 14:9 through John 16:29, Jesus does all the talking. The disciples fall silent. I wonder if they might have been wary of speaking up, after Jesus' responses to their initial questions and requests. They ask two questions they should have already known the answer to:
How can we know the way to God?
How are we to see the Father?"
And these are our question too. You and I may have been following Jesus for quite a while, but we still sometimes feel lost and without answers or understanding in the face of life's trials and tribulations. We still ask the basic questions:
How should we live? Who is God and how can I know him?
Jesus' response is simple:
“I am the Way” (John 14:6)
Jesus used this brief, vivid, memorable saying to express who he is and who we are to become in relation to him.
"I am the Way" has its roots in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, especially the Book of Proverbs. Jesus offers a path of life and wisdom rather than a path of self-destruction and folly. Jesus' "I am" sayings found in the Bible present many metaphors for His Life and teachings as it related to all of us:
“I am the Bread of life” (John 6:35)
“I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12)
“I am the Gate for the Sheep” (John 10:7)
“I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11)
“I am the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25)
“I am the True Vine” (John 15:1)
Jesus himself - Jesus the man - is a gift from the very heart of God, whose teachings guide us and whose Presence sustains and challenges us. We continue, throughout our lives, to ask and ask again the basic questions of "Am I on the right track in life?" and "How can I know God in my life?" Again, the answer Jesus gives is both simple and profound:
"I am the Way." (John 14:6)
To believe in Jesus’ teachings and example, His sacrifice and love, His service and simplicity, His acceptance and forgiveness – this is the way to eternal life and happiness, peace on this earth.
We grow into the answer as we live out our lives. Every time we return to these basic questions, it is with deepened faith since the last time we asked them.