I AM the Way, The Truth and The Life
As the way, Lord Jesus is our path to the Father, as the truth, He is the reality of all God’s promises and as the life, He joins His Divine life to ours, both now and eternally. Lord Jesus is, in truth, the only living way to the Father. Instead of worrying about how limited it appears to have only one way to God, we should be thanking Him by saying “Thank You, God for providing one sure way to get to You”!
The biggest challenge facing the Church has always been the exclusivity claim of the Lord Jesus for being “THE Way, THE Truth and THE Life”. The statement is specific on all three counts with the specificity established through the preceding word ‘THE’, for Lord Jesus did not claim to be ‘a way’ or one of the ways or one of the truths. In today’s religious culture even the Church has started accepting the analogy “As long as you believe in God and try to be a good person, your faith/religion does not matter”. Apostle Peter while answering the “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel” – the same group that had led the Lord to the cross – “Salvation is found in no other name (except Lord Jesus), for there is no other name under heaven given among/to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
“The LORD God spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to a friend” yet the same Moses begged God to ‘show me Your glory’ to be refused by God because “no man shall see Me and live” (Exodus 33:11, 18 & 20). God was before Moses in the ‘Pillar of cloud’ seeing Moses without revealing Himself for a sinful man cannot be in the presence of the “holy and righteous God”. Lord Jesus came from the Father, after being one with Him since eternity, and thus could claim to be the way to the Father. Since God is truth and in and from Him is all life, the two facts are also joined to the “way”. St. Thomas Aquinas states, Since Lord Jesus, the way is not separate from its end, in His human nature He is the way, and in His Divine nature He is the goal. Therefore, speaking as man He says ‘I am the way’; and speaking as God He adds, ‘the truth and the life’.
“God has made everything beautiful for its time. He has planted eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and this goal of being in oneness with the Eternal Being of God is human desire. Man desires two things – firstly, he wants to know the truth and secondly, he wants to continue living and this is fulfilled in Lord Jesus. He, as Word of God is the truth yet He also is the way to that truth. Since “In Him (Lord Jesus) was life and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4), He automatically becomes the way to life as well despite being life Himself. He Himself is life, for ‘in Him was life’; then He is the truth, because He was the ‘light of men’ and light is truth and reveals truth. In Him God comes to men and through Him to open and make Him the way that was closed to mankind and “guarded by Cherubim, and a flaming sword, which turned every way” (Genesis 3:24).
The Way – There are several Scripture references that qualify this claim of the Savior Lord. First, are the various Old Testament prophesies that were fulfilled in His coming. The basic reason for expulsion of Adam and Eve from God’s presence and the Garden of Eden was their sin of disobedience and thereafter the darkness fully engulfed them. Within a short time mankind, forces of evil and the fallen nature affected each other so much that “God was grieved in His heart for having created man”. The reason for this was the “great wickedness of mankind; their continuous evil intents and thoughts; the corruption/degradation of the earth; and violence thereon” (Genesis 6:5-8 & 11). The earth had become a dangerous place to live for those who still followed the will of God and Noah’s flood was the result. It is ironic that similar conditions shall prevail before the second coming of the Lord and creation of the new earth and new heavens.
Second, for more than four hundred years there was no Word from God and then Angel Gabriel appears in the temple to tell Zechariah about his son to be born “in the spirit and power of Elijah’ (Luke 1:17) and then about the coming of the Messiah (Luke 1:31-33). The angels proclaimed the Good News of His coming to the shepherds, the declaration of God’s glory by the stars in heaven caused witness of the magi and the presence of the angels around Lord Jesus all through His ministry and finally His ascension. The angels witnessed His Divine status as Son of God to be the Way to the Father.
Third, the resurrection of Lord Jesus on the third day as victory over death and finally His ascension confirm His authority and power to tread on the path to God to Himself and to be able to lead us.
Fourth, Lord Jesus fulfilled the prophesy concerning Him being Immanuel – God with us (Isaiah 7:14) by His presence in human form and further ensured its continuous fulfillment on the day of Pentecost. The indwelling Holy Spirit represents and reveals Lord Jesus Christ, His teachings; God’s will and empowers us to do His will. Immanuel showed the way and continues to do so in us.
The Truth – Pontius Pilate raised this question before the Lord “What is truth?” while wanting to know the nature and not definition of truth but did not wait for the answer (John 18:38). This question is still troubling the minds of many for mankind has struggled with this right from the time the separation from God happened. We remain away from Truth and try and find Him everywhere else. As per its literal meaning, truth is its conformity with fact orb reality while in philosophical terms it would be the actuality of existence itself. When Lord Jesus claims to be the Truth, He claims to be the actuality of existence for He draws us unto God the Creator. Truth thus is the reason and reality of and for our creation and Lord Jesus being the one ‘through whom all things were made’ is that Truth (John 1:3).
The Greek concept of truth as represented by the word ‘aletheia’ used here implies a static property whereas the Hebrew understanding of truth is of a dynamic, changing idea that is involved in the formation of character of a person and restoration of the world. In relation to God truth then is grounded in the moments of decision encountered in life – should I or should I not. The Hebrew word for truth is “emet” and contains the first letter ‘Aleph’, the middle ‘Mem’ and the last letter ‘Taw’ of the alphabet – the beginning and end of everything while ‘Mem’ represents the revealed knowledge of God. If letter ‘Aleph’ is removed then we are left with ‘met’ which is translated as death or opposite of life. ‘Aleph’ represents oneness and eminent glory of God. The moment we attempt to ignore or suppress/remove God from our understanding of truth, there is nothing else but death that is left – the spiritual separation from God and spiritual death.
The word ‘emet’ is formed from a root word ‘aman’, a verb, which means to support and make firm and implies the strong arm of a parent holding, supporting and sustaining a helpless infant. Lord Jesus as the Truth not only knows our real state but also becomes our ‘Shepherd’ to lead us to God and the life of abundance in Him.
Truth is individualistic and personal – Truth as Aleph and Taw is of, from and about God and this is not something that is objective and static, something about knowledge and learning. Truth has to be experienced, adapted as and into life by developing a close personal relationship. God cannot be kept at a distance and merely learnt about but is life giving and a dynamic Being who desires to have a close relationship. Without this relational experience neither can Truth be known nor experienced to become life changing. Pontius Pilate was aware that his question was wrong and that is why He did not wait for the answer. The question should be “Who is Truth?” for Lord Jesus had told him the reason of His birth “to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37).
He is ‘The Life’ – The Greek word used here for life is “zoe” which is derived from word ‘zao’ meaning ‘to experience the God’s gift of life. Zoe on the other hand is meant to refer to the present life of this physical world as also the future life in the spiritual realm both of which come from and are sustained by God’s “Self existent life”. The LORD has intimately shared His gift of life with mankind, by creating each one of us in His image and likeness and giving all the capacity to know His eternal life (Strong’s Greek Concordance). By going into a sinful life we have tried to live according to our own power and way which has led us far away from God. Lord Jesus, the Living Word, comes to be with us to show us the mirror of our own image and the image that we should have – His image and then provides the indwelling Holy Spirit to transform us into that. It is only by taking Lord Jesus into us can we lead the life that we are destined to live here and beyond.
“I will not leave you as orphans” – Immanuel promised to be with us always and not leave us again at the mercy of the ‘prince of this world’. His resurrection from the dead, the empty tomb and His meeting many others thereafter are proofs of His being alive and His ascension into heaven assures us of His power and authority. The presence of the Holy Spirit further fulfilled His promise for He is spiritually still present with and in us for we “are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him” (Romans 8:9-10). He left us physically to be with all believers and not just the eleven for He did not come as an observer but as a Helper.
Holding on to Him assures us of our not going astray for He is the Way; and He cannot be deceived for He is the Truth and He teaches us that same truth. He came to be witness to the Truth and in Him is life and He gives that life to us. At baptism we are baptized into Him to end our separation with the Holy Trinity. It is no longer He on one side and we on the other and what He had prayed to the Father on the last night for oneness with Him comes to be. He begins to live His life and exercise His Royal Priesthood through us empowering us to do “greater works” in His authority. By surrendering to Him we become vessels of His glory to reveal the same through our lives to others and thus give them life. The greatest work He does in us is to teach us to be priests to intercede for others and reveal the real meaning of human life – to love.
The Savior comes as a ray of light into our darkness filled existence to provide us that way to climb out of that darkness into His Light, His Truth and His Life. He energizes us then bear that Light in us to be the torchbearers for others to come into that same Light and Truth, not only in this physical life but beyond, even after death. Making Him personal through surrender by being baptized into Him and attaining that union with Him fills us with the same Truth and Life.