Vol. 1 - No. 2 

February, 1982

“Jesus Is The Way”

by Leon Odom

 

In John fourteen, Jesus said to the disciples, "If I go  I will come again and receive you unto myself." (v. 3) He continued in the fourth verse: "And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know." Thomas, one of the disciples, replied, "Lord, we know not whither thou goest." (v. 5) It appears to me that Thomas was taking issue with the Lord. Jesus had said, "Ye know the way" but Thomas declared, "We know not whither thou goest." Thomas must have known that Jesus was returning to the Father and that such return would involve his death, leaving the followers of Christ on earth. Thomas was not having trouble in understanding that through death Jesus would return to the Father, but he was having difficulty in comprehending the mission of Christ beyond this death.

There is evidence that the disciples at the first had an earthly concept of the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:16) "How is our Lord going to return to the Father of heaven and leave us a way into that kingdom through heaven?" Thomas is saying, "Master, you think we know but really we don't know the way." They apparently had a better concept of the things involved than they were giving themselves credit.

In verse six, Jesus replied, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: No man cometh unto the Father but by me." It is this verse to which I draw our attention, allowing the afore mentioned to serve as context. The issue here is, "THE WAY." Jesus said, "I am the way." The pronoun is emphatic: "I, and none beside me." The only way to the Father is through Jesus Christ. Does the reader recall the thoughts and words of the Master in John ten, relative to the shepherd and the fold? "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. He that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep." In explaining this parable Jesus declared that HE (Christ) is the door. (vs. 7-10) This is the idea: "I AM THE WAY and the ONLY way that men can come to the Father. The expression "THE WAY" (hodos)is a figurative expression followed by two literal words used by Jesus. Those words are TRUTH and LIFE. He didn't say, "I am come and like a great teacher show you the way." He said, "I AM the way." He didn't declare, "I have the truth." He said, "I AM the truth." Not like an apostle who could say, "I lead you to life." He said, "I AM the life." The marvel of this ONE WAY is that it is not a dusty road of human wisdom but rather the single person of Jesus the Christ.

As we look closer to these verses, I think it interesting to also note the rendition of BERRY'S INTERLINEAR NEW TESTAMENT that "the way AND the truth AND the life" are stacked on top of one another by kai (and). Each of these terms are distinct and each is paying a compliment to the other. I agree with R. C. H. Lenski when he remarked on this point:

"The two `ands' thus do not join diverse or mutually exclusive terms; all three are also predicates of the same hodos. The proper order, moreover, is that `the truth' should follow 'the way' and then should come `the life'."

I do not agree that the three terms, "way, truth and life" should be viewed as one notion and not upon separate senses as some suppose. The words themselves refute such an idea. Let me begin with the word "way." This word is from the Greek hodos and is used much of the time, metaphorically, of conduct or thinking which is approved of God. This can be illustrated in Matthew 7:13-14, "Enter ye in at the straight gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." The expression in our text (John 14:6) is used as the "Personification of Christ as the means of access to the Father." (The Expository Dictionary of N. T. Words, Vine.)

The next word, which is said to modify "way" is TRUTH (aletheia). According to Thayer, Christ is saying, "I am he in whom truth is summed up and impersonated." Hence, Christ is saying, "I AM the truth!" Jesus could never be the way unless he could say, "I AM the truth!" But while we give emphasis to "the WAY," we might also reverse the order and have him saying, "I am the truth and because of that fact, I am the way." One is a compliment of the other yet each word has its own meaning and teaching. One is useless without the other.

Last of all, Jesus is saying of Himself, "I am the source of eternal life." While it appears that Jesus gave the disciples more credit than they were willing to give themselves, still there was a lack of depth to their level of understanding. Jesus was going to the Father by way of physical death; they would go to the Father through Christ. Whereas they did not fully understand how they would. To acknowledge our ignorance is the first step to its removal.

But what is the force of Jesus being the life? Life is defined as "the state of one who is possessed of vitality or is animate." (Thayer's Lexicon, pg. 273) Peter said, "For he that would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile." (1 Peter 3:10) God breathed this life into Adam in the beginning. (Genesis 2:7) Sometimes we say that life is the joining of the spirit and the body of man (outward and inward), and death is the antithesis. "So the body without the spirit is dead." (James 2:26) Hence, physical life as we know it.

There is another sense of life that we need to explore briefly. The emphatic use is where we have "the absolute fullness of life, both essential and ethical, which belongs to God, and through him to the hypostatic LOGOS and to Christ to whom the LOGOS put on human nature." (Thayer's Lexicon, pg. 273) From this glorious fountain of life we receive that life as mentioned in John 14:6. It is a life that is devoted to God Almighty, trusting in Christ. It is that life which shall last forever as a communion with God and in that sense is "eternal life." That is to say, a life that is not viewed as duration but rather a quality of life. Jesus said, "I AM the life." In this same chapter, (John 6) Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life." (vs. 48) The next two verses pictured how their fathers sustained life while in the wilderness. "Well," said the Master, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (vs. 51) And finally, "It is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." (vs. 63)

I ask, by way of closing, what better hope and desire could any mortal have than to know that he is in fellowship with God? To know that the quality of life that he can possess is the result of walking in the way that leads to the Father is eternal. Ah, yes, beloved, Jesus is indeed, "The way, and the truth, and the life." And no man can go to the Father but through him.