John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.” (NCV)
At the end of Jesus’ last Passover meal, which many call “The Last Supper,” he has a most unusual conversation with his 12 closest followers. At this point in time, the Messiah is trying to help them understand the true purpose of his coming to earth. They have heard his messages over and over, have lived daily with him, and yet even they do not understand his real mission.
In John 14:4, Jesus tells his disciples, “Where I am going, you all know the way.” (WNT) We might better understand the passage using the Message translation: “you already know the road I’m taking.” His words imply that they should understand his teachings at this point, and know where he is headed.
The Directions Are Confusing
As the twelve men look at each other with surprise, not comprehending, Thomas alone has the courage to ask, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. So how can we know the way?” (NCV) Yes, this is the same disciple we refer to as “Doubting Thomas,” an individual who always raised questions. He spoke what they were all thinking: “What are you talking about? We don’t have any idea where You are going or what You are up to, and we certainly don’t know how to get there.”
When confronted by Thomas’ question, Jesus replies, “I am the Way!” In the Greek, “way” means “pathway or road.” Jesus was, in fact, saying, “I am the means by which you will arrive safely at your destination.” This was his way of introducing his role as Messiah.
Up to this point, Jewish believers had made regular sacrifices in the temple to cover and clear away their sins. But back in the Garden of Eden, God had promised a deliverer who would permanently solve the sin problem. Throughout the Old Testament prophets gave details of this “Messiah” — where he would be born, how he would live and even how he would die. At this point in Jewish history, the people had chosen to believe Messiah would be a political savior who would restore their homeland to it’s former glory.
As always, God’s idea differed greatly from man’s. Even as the Jews were focused on ridding themselves of the dominance of Rome, God was focused on eternity. There had to be a payment for sin, and it had to be a great enough one that it would cover all sin for all time. Jesus the Messiah was that sacrifice, but even his closest friends didn’t understand this.
Over and over Jesus had taught them that he was one with the Father, that when they saw him they could see God, and that he was on earth to do his Father’s work. If they couldn’t see the Father in him, or be convinced by his words, they should have understood who he was by His works. But that concept had, apparently, not really gotten through to them.
Now, the end was near and he needs them to comprehend his true mission. They had left their former lives to follow and learn from him-but now he is leaving. Here he tells them he is going to prepare a place for them. After his death, Jesus could finally prepare a place for them in heaven. His death would provide the power to win them a place by his side in eternity.
Messiah is the Way
While the 12 disciples still didn’t understand that Jesus had to die to provide the way, this was the beginning of their instruction. Later, when the crucifixion was over, and the women found an empty tomb on Easter morning, the words of their master would again ring in their ears. Finally, they would understand the glorious message of salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus.
Jesus is the sinner’s one way to the Father – in his person as God in the flesh; in his atoning sacrifice for sin; and in his work as our Advocate. Through Jesus, the way, our prayers reach God, and his blessings reach us. The disciples had heard the message of redemption over and over, now their leader called upon them to understand God’s way of providing that salvation. It was the very person of Jesus.
The GPS Connection
A few years ago my daughter purchased a GPS unit to help her stay on course when she went to her husband’s art shows. Shortly after that, I was visiting them, and her husband and I were meeting her at a dance recital in the area. We typed in the address, but when we followed the directions, we ended up nowhere near the theater. Apparently there were 2 streets with the same name in the town, and the GPS didn’t know which one we wanted.
God’s GPS is far more specific. There is only one way to get to heaven, and that is through the promised redeemer, Jesus the Messiah. That was true in the days of the disciples, and it is true for us in the 21st century.
The Bible, New Century Version (NCV), The Message (MSG), New Century Version (NCV) and Weymouth New Testament (WNT)