John 14:6

Many years ago I visited an old veteran in the hospital. He was near the end of his life and he told me about one of his experiences in the war. He and a fellow soldier got separated from their unit (or perhaps his fellow soldiers had been killed) and there were enemy troops very near them. To escape they had to cross a wide river. The river was shallow but it was fast moving. I can't remember why swimming wasn't an option for them, but it wasn't. Perhaps one of them couldn't swim. Or it could have been that because they were near the mouth of the river they were afraid that the swift current would take them too far out to sea and they would drown. So they scouted out the river for what they thought was the shallowest spot. After dark they tried to make their escape by crossing the river. For the first while everything went well but then they came to a spot where the water was deep enough and running fast enough that it threatened to wash them off their feet. They knew they couldn't go any farther the way there were doing it. But one of them got a great idea. He told the other guy to climb up on his back (or shoulders, I can't remember which). Then he found that he could continue walking across the river because the extra weight gave enough heaviness to his feet that they held against the current. I think he had to take baby steps so it was slow going for awhile but soon they were over that dangerous part and they got across the river to safety.

What a brilliant idea—one of the climbing on the back of the other. The idea showed the way to get across. The idea had truth to it. And the idea led to them being able to continue to live.

In our text we have a much greater example of that. Only it's not about a temporary situation—but it's about a concept of the utmost importance—our eternal fate. It's also not about an idea being the way, the truth and the life—but a person, Jesus Christ. Jesus said, (John 14:6)

"I am the way
and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father
except through me."

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Iain D. Campbell writes, (I Am: Exploring the 'I Am' sayings of John's Gospel (Kindle Locations 843-844)

"The choice is not between the religion Jesus offers and the religion others offer; the choice is between having him as the way to God, or not coming to God at all."

The first thing I want you to note here is that

these truths, the way, the truth and the life are rooted in the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus didn't say,

"I have come to show you the way. I have come to show you the truth. I have come to show you the life."

Neither does Jesus say that he is a way, a truth, a life. Jesus is telling us here that He is not one way among many, that He is not one truth among many, that He is merely one of the ways people can have life. No. He is the way, the truth and the life. Just like in English, the he definite article is used three times in the Greek. Jesus 'the' way, 'the' truth, 'the' life. In Greek, the threefold use of the article is unusual and a bit of a puzzle. (Morris, John, p. 641) Some commentators (Turner, Zerwick) find them, (Leon Morris, (John, p. 641)

"inexplicable unless the reference 'is to Christ as the real truth, life, light, etc.; all other truths, lives, lights, being transitory'".

The way, the truth and the life are not external to Him. They are bound up in Him. There is an identification of these truths with the person of Jesus Christ. These things exist in Him.

To illustrate this we merely have to look at 'the life' and how it relates to us.

The Bible tells us that we only get 'life' by being united to Jesus. For example, John 1:4 says of Jesus,

"In him was life,
and that life was the light of men."

He is the source of life. It exists only in Him. Colossians 3:4 is also very clear about this. It says,

"When Christ,
who is your life, appears,
then you also will appear
with him in glory."

Jesus is our life. He is the source of our life and our strength. In Acts 3:15 Peter called Jesus, 'the author of life'. Our lives, both physical and spiritual come from Jesus. When the Bible talks about 'life' in relation to Christ spiritual life is often prominent. For example, 1 John 3:14 says that Christians

"have passed from death to life…"

The life we have now is called 'new life' (Acts 5:20) to indicate that it is a life from above, a life that results from being united to Christ, which enables us to live for God's glory. We see this in Romans 6:4. The apostle Paul tells us about the result of being united to Christ,

"We were therefore buried with him
through baptism into death
in order that,
just as Christ was raised from the dead
through the glory of the Father,
we too may live a new life."

Because we are 'in Him' we have new life. 2 Corinthians 13:4 tells us that we are able to serve others because of Christ's life in us. He wrote,

"For to be sure,
he was crucified in weakness,
yet he lives by God's power.
Likewise, we are weak in him,
yet by God's power
we will live with him to serve you."

Because we are united to Christ, we are able, by God's power, to serve others. Life only exists in Jesus. We get it by being united to Him. Without it humans beings are dead. He is the life.

This shows us that 'life' is embodied in Jesus. It's the same with the way.

Jesus is the way.

Leon Morris writes, (John, NICNT; 569-570)

" 'Way' speaks of a connection between two persons or things, and here the link between God and sinners."

In the first few verses of John 14 Jesus taught that in His Father's house were many rooms and how He was going there to prepare a place for His disciples. He said that He would come back and take them to be with Him, that they may be where He is. We only get there by Jesus taking us there. The second part of our verse makes this clear. The way is 'through' Him. Jesus said,

"No one comes to the Father
except through me."

The way to the Father, the way to the Father's house is though Jesus. The way we get to the Father is through Him.

Jesus is the only way to God. Only He could take away our sins. Only He could die in our place. Only He could bring us to God. In Acts 4:10–12 the apostle Peter said to the rulers of the people of Israel,

"know this, you and all the people of Israel:
It is by the name
of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,
whom you crucified but whom
God raised from the dead,
that this man stands before you healed.
He is 'the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the capstone.'
Salvation is found in no one else,
for there is no other name under heaven
given to men
by which we must be saved."

Only Jesus is able to save. Peter's words in Acts 4 and Jesus' words here point to the solution to the great problem of the curse of sin. We're all sinners. The curse of sin is death. The only solution to that problem is for Jesus to die for us, in our place. That's the only way for our sins to be dealt with as they needed to be dealt with—death. It's the only way for the lost to be saved. He is the capstone. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:11 says,

"For no one can lay any foundation
other than the one already laid,
which is Jesus Christ."

He's the way. In 1 Peter 3:18 the apostle wrote,

"For Christ died for sins once for all,
the righteous for the unrighteous,
to bring you to God."

In Hebrews 4:14 the Bible tells us that Jesus is our great high priest. A priest was a mediator between God and in 1 Timothy 2:5 the apostle Paul wrote,

"For there is one God and
one mediator between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus,"

John Stott once said something to the effect that we can talk about people like Alexander the Great, Charles the Great and Napoleon the Great, but that Jesus does not fit in that category. He is far above it. With Him the category is,

"Jesus the Only."

The great lesson for us here is that we need to be in Christ to get to the Father, to get to heaven. Are you trusting in Him? Is He your only hope? You need to be in Him.

Jesus' words are actually the words that people need to hear, words that are exactly suited to our situation. This means that

Jesus is the truth.

Leon Morris writes, (John, NICNT; 569-570)

" 'Truth' reminds us of the complete reliability of Jesus in all that he does and is."

In John 1:14 John tells us that Jesus, who came from the Father, is,

"full of grace and truth."

Then in verse 17 he tells us that the law was given through Moses,

"grace and truth
came through Jesus Christ."

In John 15:26 Jesus said,

"When the Counselor comes,
whom I will send to you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth who goes out
from the Father,
he will testify about me."

Colossians 2:3 says in Jesus,

"are hidden all the treasures
of wisdom and knowledge."

Jesus is 'the truth'. What He did in His work was the exact work that needed to be done to save us. Our sins required death—thus Jesus died on our behalf. The law requires us to be righteous in every respect. Jesus kept the law perfectly and His righteousness is imputed to His people.

The application from this is that you need the truth that is in Jesus, that comes from Him. People today claim that they can't know what is true. Or they claim that truth is relative. In our society today many people hold to the post modern concept of truth. They doubt that there is absolute truth. You will hear people say,

"Well, that may be true for you, but it's not true for me."

Now it's true we may have different opinions. You may think blue is a nicer color than green, but someone else may think the opposite. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

But truth is truth. 2 + 2 = 4. It's not 5. If I go outside in the summer on a beautiful 90 degree sunny day with not a cloud in the sky and say it's snowing, that doesn't make it so.

As far as religious truth is concerned, people today will tell you that 'your truth' is no more valid than 'their truth'. Yet the two can be mutually contradictory. Both can't be true. That's nonsense.

Who are you going to follow? Are you going to follow the world today? No. The world today, for all it's knowledge and wisdom—knows very little about truth. According to some in our society, if you're a boy and you say that you're a girl—then you're a girl. It's crazy. It doesn't make any sense. Yet if you read the news this past week you'll see that that case is going to the Supreme Court.

Jesus is the truth. His Word is truth. Yet people today are doing what they did in ancient Rome, exchanging the truth of God for a lie. (Romans 1:25) Don't buy into it. Look to Jesus and His word for truth.

In sum we see that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life because of His person and work—who He is and what He has done. The way of salvation, the truth and the life are inextricably linked to the person of Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth, the life. These things have their existence in Him, only in Him. John Calvin writes,

"The whole may be summed up thus: 'If any man turn aside from Christ, he will do nothing but go astray; if any man do not rest on him, he will feed elsewhere on nothing but wind and vanity; if any man, not satisfied with him alone, wishes to go farther, he will find death instead of life.'"

The way, the truth and the life all go together. Leon Morris refers to them as,

"the triple expression emphasizing the many- sidedness of the saving work."

One can't have one without the others. For example, someone might say, "I know Jesus is the way," but refuse to believe the truth of Jesus that is recorded in the Bible. They reject most of its teaching. Many churches do that today. They call themselves Christian churches but they don't believe the Bible. Or someone could accept that Jesus is the way and that the teaching of the New Testament is true, but not have the power of life in them. They still live in darkness. They haven't repented of their sins, they haven't pursued holiness. They don't have the power of the Spirit in their lives, they don't have the resurrected life in them. In the same way, if someone claims to have life, if they claim to be close to God, they'll tell you that they're very spiritual and yet they don't believe in Jesus, they don't believe that He is the way and the truth—they do not have life.

Do you know Jesus as the way, the truth and the life? Are you in Him? These are questions of the utmost importance. They show you whether you are in a right standing with God.

In closing we should note the incredible irony of Jesus' words and ponder the cost that Jesus paid to be the way, the truth and the life for us.

Iain D Campbell writes, (I Am: Exploring the 'I am' sayings of John's Gospel, Kindle Locations 860-869)

"this Jesus, who says, 'I am the truth', is about to be crucified on the basis of a miscarriage of justice. The religious leaders are going to hire false witnesses to lie his way to the cross. This one who is truth, and speaks the truth, and bears witness to the truth, is going to be taken by wicked hands and condemned by lying tongues and, in the greatest act of injustice and untruth that the world has ever known, he will be crucified. But it has to be like this — for him to be the truth he has to be crucified. For him to be the way, he has to go his way, the way God ordained for him. God has given him a commandment. He cannot stay in the upper room — he has to leave it precisely so that the world may know that he loves the Father (14:31). There is a way he must follow, and if he is to be the way for his people he must go the way God directs him, all the way to Calvary. If he is to be the life for his people he must go all the way into death, and his body must lie lifeless behind the closed door of a borrowed grave. He must go the way of the cross in order to be the way; he must be sold by the lie into the hand of the ruler of the world in order to be the truth; he must taste death for every man to be the life for his people. Yet it is only through the cross that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life for us."

What a Savior we have in Jesus. What He did for us, to be the way, to show us the way, to give us life—is the most amazing story ever told. Christian, follow His way, believe His truth, live for His glory.

May God give us grace to do so.