“I AM…” – How Jesus Meets Our Deepest Needs
5. The Way
John 14: 1 - 6
Here are some common quotes that some Christians hold to:
It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere.
Good people go to heaven.
My God wouldn’t send anyone to Hell.
Good works will get you to heaven.
Whatever works for you is true for you.
It’s arrogant to believe there’s only one way to heaven.
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Here’s the big idea, the main point, the sermon in a sentence: If I believe the Bible, I must say that Jesus is the only way. Let me make it more personal. If you do not believe in, and receive Jesus Christ, as the only way to heaven, you will spend eternity in hell.
That’s quite an opening, isn’t it? What I just said is politically incorrect but it is biblically correct. We could call this tough truth…and gracious good news. We shouldn’t be surprised that our culture and even some religious leaders reject the truth of Christianity.
My aim today is lofty and perhaps unattainable. I want each of you to agree with this statement by the time we’re finished: If I believe the Bible, I must say that Jesus is the only way.
Some who agree with us don’t like to talk about it openly. Many people react negatively when we say that Jesus is the only way to heaven. Sometimes they hurl abuse at us, using words like arrogant, bigoted, intolerant, exclusive and narrow-minded. There are some who would like to ban us from saying publicly what we believe.
As we focus on the 5th “I Am” statement of Jesus, we discover that the disciples are distraught and filled with fear because He has just announced that He is leaving them.
What Jesus Offers
Jesus gives us at least 4 assurances in John 14 -
1. Peace v. 1
The disciples were upset and so Jesus looked at them with tenderness and said: “Let not your hearts be troubled.” Means - “to be stirred up.” Jesus makes another claim to deity: “Believe in God; believe also in me.” He’s saying something like this: “You trust in God who is invisible and that’s great; now it’s time to trust in me, even though I will be leaving you for a while.” The only way to have peace in the midst of troubled times is to trust in Christ.
2. Place v. 2, 3a
For those who know Jesus, death is not an eerie journey to an unknown destination. Believers are assured that there is a place where all wrongs will be made right, where all imbalances will be straightened out. This refers to something that is not temporary, but permanent. Friends, our place here won’t last but we’re headed to a place that is everlasting
We often think that this is the land of the living, and that when we die we go the land of the dying. The opposite is really true – this is the land of the dying, when our life here is over, we are transferred to the land of the living.
In those days it was customary for travelers to send someone ahead to find lodging and make arrangements in a distant city – they didn’t have GPS on their phones or a Travelocity app. That’s what happened on the night of the last supper when Jesus sent 2 of his disciples ahead of the rest to get the upper room ready.
Jesus has prepared a room for us even though there was no room for Him when He was born. Despite the fact that we kicked Jesus out of our world, Jesus invites us into His. Jesus said that there is a place for those who believe in Him. In fact, He left the disciples in order to get it ready for them, and for us. Jesus gives us peace and He calls us to another place. The third assurance is to trust the promise of Jesus.
3. Promise v. 3
Jesus calms his frantic followers - “I’m not just going to show you the way to the place I’ve prepared, or just give you a map. I promise to come back and take you to that place so that we can be together forever. Then you’ll finally be home.” Jesus reinforces this promise in John 14:18: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
When a son wanted to get married, he and his father would add a room on to the Father’s house. When the addition was finished, the son would go and get his bride for the wedding and then they would move into the room prepared for them. Likewise, Jesus is preparing a room for His bride, the church, right now. When the time is right He will gather us and bring us to the Father’s house. Jesus guarantees that if we put our full confidence in Him, we’ll be with Him forever. Let’s trust His peace, let’s focus on the right place, let’s claim His promises and then, let’s commit to follow His plan.
4. Plan v. 4 – 6
Thomas gets a bad rap for doubting but I see him as one who was searching. He wasn’t afraid to ask questions, and you shouldn’t be either. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” There is no way to get to heaven unless we go through Him.
Jesus is very inclusive in the sense that everyone is invited to a relationship with Him. But, His claims are extremely exclusive in that there is no other way to Heaven except through Him.
How does this mesh in a pluralistic society like ours that values variety and excludes exclusive truth claims? Though Christianity still dominates by sheer numbers, we have a greater diversity of religious groups than ever before.
It’s helpful to remember that the world of the biblical authors was filled with paganism and pluralism as well. In the midst of all this doctrinal diversity, the Bible makes some rather startling claims that run counter-cultural to the pluralistic mantras of religious tolerance. If I believe the Bible, I must say that Jesus is the only way.
Let’s dive more deeply -
When Jesus uses the phrase, “I AM,” He is once again claiming the name of Yahweh for Himself. He is God in human flesh. Jesus claimed to be God, a claim that no other religious leader has made – not Mohammed, Buddha or Confucius. No one else did the miracles He did, lived a sinless life like He did, died like he died as our substitute and rose again on the third day.
11 times in just 6 verses, Jesus uses the personal pronoun – I, me, or my. We are not saved by a principle or a force but by a person. Jesus did not say that He knew the way, the truth and the life, or even that he taught these great principles. He declared Himself to be the way, the truth and the life. While answering all of life’s questions, Jesus doesn’t offer a recipe, or a bunch of rules or rituals to follow; instead He gives us a relationship with Himself. His plan is wrapped up in a Person.
Jesus doesn’t say, “I am a way, and a truth and a life,” but rather, “I am the way (that is, the only way), I am the truth (that is, the only truth), and the life (that is, the only life).”
All 3 concepts are active and dynamic. The way brings us to God; the truth makes us free; and the life produces relationship. Without the way there is no going, without the truth there is no knowing, without the life there is no growing.
Since every word of this astonishing statement challenges the fundamental beliefs of our culture, let’s drill down on each phrase.
1. Jesus is the way.
Jesus is categorically stating that only one way is right and every other way is wrong. Jesus does not merely show the way; He is Himself the way. He is the way from God to us and also the way from us to God. The only way to get to God is through Jesus.
The early believers were known as being part of “the way.” It’s one of the earliest names given to the Christian community, used 6 different times in Acts. The way to heaven is not through a religious system or by following a set of religious rituals. It’s not within you and it’s not by your sincere efforts.
2. Jesus is the truth.
This word is used in 2 ways: true as contrasted with false, and genuine as opposed to fake. Jesus is authentic and trustworthy. When we look at Jesus we come face-to-face with certainty and reality. Truth is the scarcest commodity in the world. Without the clarity and consistency of absolute moral truth, we are reduced to doing what seems right, what feels good, what produces the least resistance, and what provides the greatest personal fulfillment.
Jesus rises above our cultural confusion and shouts out, “I am the truth. Get to know me and you will discover that which is totally true and transforming.” Truth is a very exclusive thing because it implies an objective standard. It is not something that changes with the whims of emotion or time or culture. What was true 100 years ago is true this year because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
3. Jesus is the life.
Life describes the principle of spiritual vitality. Just as spiritual death leads to separation from God, so life implies communion with Him. We are dead without Him. We become alive when we surrender ourselves to Him.
“If all we need is a teacher of enlightenment, the Buddha will do. If all we need is a collection of gods for every occasion…Hinduism will do. If all we need is a lawgiver, Moses will do. If all we need is a set of rules and a way of devotion, Muhammad will do. If all we need is inspiration and insight into the self…Oprah and Dr Phil will do. But if we need a Saviour, only Jesus will do.”
1. Place your faith in Jesus. He is the only way! Apart from Jesus there is no way to be saved. You cannot get there by trusting yourself. You cannot come to the Father by jumping through any religious hoops either. The only way to come is to go through Jesus, the way, the truth and the life.
Jesus is the way that must be followed; He is the truth that must be believed; and He is the life that must be lived. Be like Thomas and ask your questions and then when you find what you’re looking for, cry out like he did: “My Lord and my God!”
2. Tell others about Jesus. Brothers and sisters, we don’t have to make Jesus more palatable to people. He is truth and can stand up to thorough investigation. Our job is to tell others about Him, without caving into the culture or watering down the way to heaven.
The truth that Jesus is the only way should make us bold…and it should also break us. We must hold to this tough truth…but it should tenderize us and put tears in our eyes about the fate of the lost. Instead of holding it over someone’s head as a hammer, we must help people believe and receive. This truth is the most loving truth ever given by God.
You can hear this I AM statement from Jesus and conclude that it is bigoted or beautiful, limited or loving, intolerant or invitational. If Jesus is truly the only way, the unkindest thing would be keep it to ourselves. If Jesus is truly the only way, the most loving thing is to share it with others.
3. Stand up for truth no matter how hard it will be. “To say less than Jesus said is to be disloyal to Him. To say something contrary to what He said is to be disobedient to Him.”
The truth of John 14:6 answers 3 key questions that everyone has. How can I be saved? He is the way! How can I be sure? He is the truth! How can I be satisfied? He is the life!
Do you believe this? Before you answer too quickly, settle the fact that you will be called intolerant, narrow-minded, bigoted, arrogant and even hateful. You will be offensive to a pluralistic, all-roads-lead-to-heaven culture.
Be bold about Jesus…with a smile on your face. If people reject us, let it not be because of our rudeness. Don’t lose your cool…speaking the truth in love is always the best rule. Listen. The exclusive truth claims of Jesus do not mean that we should demonstrate an exclusive spirit.
In order to help you stand “out there” I wonder if you’re ready to stand “in here” as an expression of your belief today? Since I believe the Bible, I must say that Jesus is the only way.