Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Do You Know The Way? (John 14:4-6)

“And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”” (John 14:4–6, ESV)

During Spring Break this year we took our kids out for a special day at the end of the week. We told them we were going to be outside so dress appropriately, but we did not tell them where we were going. Of course, one of them guessed but we didn’t confirm the correctness of his guess right away. We were just asking them to join us for a fun time. We knew where we were going and all they had to do was trust us, get in the car and come along. This is what I thought of when I read the passage for today.

Jesus told His disciples that they knew the way to where He was going. To this Thomas took replied that he didn’t even know where Jesus was going, so how could he possibly know the way. If you don’t know where you are going then how can you know how to get there? This seems like a reasonable response, and Thomas said just that. Not knowing the destination he could not possibly know the way.

Looking to the destination first, Jesus had said many times that He had come from the Father who was in heaven and that He was going to return to Him. In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6 Jesus taught them how to pray, beginning, “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.” (Matthew 6:9, NASB95) Jesus in this prayer and elsewhere declared that the Father was in heaven, and they clearly knew this. There was no doubt. This was not new news to them. Neither was it new to them that Jesus was preparing to return to the Father. But though He had spoken of it they still weren’t grasping it. They were, as Thomas indicates, still looking to Him leaving their presence but not leaving this earth, and they did not know to where. This place that He was going to in order to prepare it for them was unknown, and as such they did not know the way to get there. They were lost.

To this Jesus responded with another one of those popular memory verses—His sixth “I Am” statement in John. “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, ESV) Thomas said that He did not know the way, and Jesus replied telling His disciples that He was that way. He was the way; the only way. They did not need to know every step along the path. They did not need to know every hurdle they would have to cross. They did not need to know how long it was, or anything else about the journey. What they needed to know is that the way to heaven, the way to be with Him and the Father was simply to trust Him. He was going to get them there, and He would not lose a single one of them. He is the Way.

Jesus not only said that He is the way, He also said that he is the truth. I sometimes joke with my kids saying that we are going to “The Bologna Palace” or “to the moon” when I don’t want to tell them where we are going. They know that I know where we are going, that I am not going to tell them, and they just have to trust me to get them there. Jesus declared that He is the truth. He is perfect truth. He, as we read in John 1, is the Word and we read in Scripture that God’s Word is truth. There is no shadow of lie or any deception in Him. He is perfectly the truth, and as the truth He is going to do exactly what He says—no exceptions. When I give my kids one of these answers I am saying, “Just trust me,” and generally it works out just as intended. With Jesus it is an absolute guarantee that He will bring things to pass exactly as He said. He is the Truth.

And beyond that, He is also the Life. There is life in no other name. He is the One sent by the Father to make man spiritually alive and give Him eternal life. What He was about to finish for them would seal this for all eternity. He was sent to give life, and He was hours away from accomplishing it. No amount of works or anything else that man can do will gain anyone access to the Father. The only way to the Father is through Him who is Life.

Thomas did not need to know the details of the trip. He needed to know who it was that was going to get Him there, and He did. He may not have recognized it yet, but He knew the way and it would not be too long before he was being presented with the risen Way’s nailed pierced hands and sword pierced side. Then He would say, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28, ESV)

As we move into Acts and Saul is searching out believers for persecution we read, “But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” (Acts 9:1–5, ESV)

Interestingly as Jesus told His disciples on that last night that He was “the way,” we read that before becoming known as Christians in Antioch in Acts 11, that they were first known for belonging to “the Way.” It is right after this that Saul is confronted by the Way Himself and Saul believes.

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