PRAY: Dearest Jesus, how I would love to have been one of your disciples, to have heard your earthly voice with my own ears, and to have observed your loving actions toward those who crossed your path. But I know that by your Holy Spirit, I too can have the joy of daily, intimate friendship with you. By abiding in you, I too can follow you, and learn to hear your voice, and learn by observation how to manage my life the way have taught. Make me alert to your Spirit. Amen.
READ: John 14:1-
I Am The Way, The Truth and the Life
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
That night in the upper room, the evening of the Last Supper, Jesus was preparing his disciples for his impending departure. He assured them that even though he was leaving, they would always be together. Complex ideas are always best expressed in metaphor, and here Jesus painted a beautiful mental picture for his friends. When he said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” a definite image would have settled in the minds of his listeners. They had all attended wedding feasts before, where the groom would lead a parade of his groomsmen through town with music and laughter and torches around the village to the home of his bride. He would collect her with her bridesmaids and family and proceed in a traveling party through town back to the groom’s home. This was actually the home of his father to which the groom had been building an addition, literally adding rooms to his father’s home. Imagine the love and care that would be invested in each detail of these rooms. The young man had spent the year of their engagement bringing a vision to life, the vision of the home he would make with his young wife. Jesus promised his disciples that he would come back and take them home with him, so that they would always be together. This image must have carried great meaning for the disciples. Jesus was assuring them of his imminent return, at which time he would bring them safely to the eternal home he was preparing for them. He said, “you know the way to where I’m going.” And Thomas, always a black and white kind of thinker, complained, “Master, we don’t know where you’re going. How can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”
When you imagine heaven, what images come to mind? You probably don’t see images of newlyweds beginning their married life together. How does Jesus’ metaphor change your view of heaven?
The Way, the Truth and the Life
When they heard these words, “I am the way,” I wonder if the disciples remembered the day they first met Jesus. He greeted each one with this invitation, “Follow me.” How many years ago was that? How many Sabbaths had they shared since then? How many campfires, how many Passovers? On this night, they were gathered for Passover, and Jesus was acting decidedly strange. He had started the evening by washing their feet, and now he is talking about leaving them, assuring them that they will follow him. He did not claim to know the way, he claimed to be the way! Maybe not that night, with all of the horrible things to come, but I imagine that over then next few days and weeks, after seeing him in resurrected form, they began to put it together. The key is to keep following. Even though he is not physically among us – just keep following. The key is to imitate the example they had learned from observing Christ in close proximity. Thomas a’Kempis put it this way in his classic essay, “The Imitation of Christ.”
“Follow thou me. I am the way and the truth and the life. Without the way there is no going; without the truth there is no knowing; without the life there is no living. I am the way which thou must follow; the truth which thou must believe; the life for which thou must hope. I am the inviolable way; the infallible truth; the never-ending life. I am the straightest way; the sovereign truth; life true, life blessed, life uncreated. If thou remain in my way thou shalt know the truth, and the truth shall make thee free, and thou shalt lay hold on eternal life.”
In what way has Jesus provided direction for your life? Can you remember a decision you made in deliberate imitation of his life?
Jesus is the way…
When Jesus said that he is the way, he wasn’t speaking only of direction. He was also speaking of the manner in which we are to go. He shows us by his example not just the direction in which we are to go, but how we are to go along the way. This can be a tough lesson for us, because we may really like our destination – abundant life on earth followed by an eternity of bliss in heaven – but the way he showed us was less than glorious. Jesus demonstrated the way of sacrifice, the way of the servant, the way of love. His example insists upon taking up our cross, and laying down our lives. This is not how most of us map out our life plan! We plan a life of climbing the ladder, not descending. We plan for ever greater success and notoriety, not the way of the cross. But if we take Jesus seriously, and choose to follow him, we cannot ignore the absolutely counter cultural “way” he modeled for us.
Compare your life plan, 5 year goals, 10 year goals, etc. with the way that Jesus arranged his own earthly career.
Most of our stories will not end in martyrdom, but what are the daily implications of following a leader who washes feet and dies on a cross? Take some time to re-examine your life goals with this in mind.