Mar 29, 2017 –I am the Way the Truth and the Life…
Thomas asks the question in the gospel lesson that sets up the ‘I am’ statement that we’re focusing on tonight. Thomas asks… ‘How can we know the way?’ And Jesus replies, I Am – Yahweh – ego emi – I Am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me. Here is perhaps the most scandalous use of I Am that Jesus uses.
You see, the ‘I am’ statement we’re looking at today is maybe the one to which we should pay the most careful attention. More than one commentator has said, with good reason, that this one verse, verse 6 is ‘the core statement of the entire book of John’.
Even more than John 3:16, this verse imparts to us the central teaching of John’s gospel. To look at this another way is to say that it takes reading and studying the entire book of John to unpack the depth of meaning of this one single I Am statement of Jesus.
John 3:16 can be understood as the application to our life, and for the life of the world, of what we’re pondering tonight. I might even go so far as to say that this, ego emi, is also the central teaching of the entirety of Holy Scripture. Without this verse and all that it encompasses, we’d be left in our sin and darkness. And without a savior.
That’s what holy writ is about after all, God telling us who He is; who we are – lost in sin – and what He has done about it. What He’s done is made a way, the way for reconciliation. And Jesus is the only source of truth for that. As the truth of Jesus being Who He is, the Son of God and bringer of life, He is therefore the way to reconciliation with our Creator God.
And thus, through reconciliation by Jesus’ death on the cross, we have life. Without Jesus as the great I am, the ego emi, Yahweh – then we’re left without a path to being restored to a relationship with God. So, the words of Jesus tonight are what give His journey to the cross… substance for us.
The content of that substance then is Jesus Himself. About Jesus as The Way, one person has said, ‘the Lord is a straight road with no confusing forks or turns, He leads us straight to the Father.’ Another comment I read said that Jesus being the way is ‘the boundary of faith.’ I like that idea.
Our faith finds its perimeter defined by the person of Jesus Christ. When Jesus says, I am, the way, we understand that the relationship that He speaks of with the disciples, and through them and the Holy Spirit, His relationship with us, is the way to the Father. In Jesus, the boundaries of our faith are realized. The knowing of Him is receiving the reality of Him being God in the flesh. That’s both the limit and the content of gaining access to the Father above.
As to Jesus being truth; this phrase takes us back the beginning of John’s gospel where Jesus is said to be the ‘true light’ of God in v 9. And then twice in vs 14 &16, He’s referred to as the one through whom ‘grace and truth’ came to the world. Jesus bears the truth of God into the world because He is God and cannot and does not lie. Again, the perimeter of our faith is defined by Jesus as The One who puts the truth of God into flesh. He never speaks falsely or deceptively. We also hold that, as He is the content of scripture, being Himself its Author, all truth, therefore, is bound up in Him. So, by Him saying ‘ego emi, the truth’, He goes beyond mere statements of fact to expressing the reality of truth located in His person. Again truth, like the Way, comes to us through His relationship with us. We know the truth, because we know Him, by grace, through faith.
As to Jesus being the life. One of the ancient church fathers put it beautifully this way, “What the soul is to the body, is what Christ is to the soul. Without the soul, the body does not live. The soul does not live without Christ.” I love that expression as it makes clear that in the here and now we have life as Christians only because Jesus inhabits our souls, giving us assurance of eternal life, now.
And then there’s the idea that Jesus is ‘the life’ because not even death could hold Him. He overcomes death to the point that death cannot even keep us from coming to Him. Death has no grip on us because Jesus is Life. You’ve heard me say it before; Jesus broke up every funeral we have record of Him attending, because death cannot win in the face of life. Jesus is the life of all.
But the scandal tonight lies not only in Jesus claims to being the I Am of life, and truth, but also as being the way, the one and only way to God the Father. And He says it plainly. “No one comes to the Father except through me.” There is no ambiguity in this clear statement of truth. Even Phillip who had been with Jesus from the beginning questions Jesus. But Jesus does not back away from what He has claimed. Phillip along with the rest of world, along with you and I, are confronted with one and only one path to God – Jesus; who said so emphatically tonight, Ego Emi, Yahweh, I am the way the truth and the life. Amen.
Sermon #880 Rev. Thomas A. Rhodes, Pastor – Zion Lutheran Church, Bolivar, MO
Holy Gospel John 14:1-10
1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered,
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well.
From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.