If This is True…
This is part of a series of articles I’m writing as I wrestle through different portions of scripture. I tackle some of the claims of Jesus asking ‘If this is true…then what?’
Today I want to address what Jesus said to the disciples on his last night before the crucifixion. They are powerful words that need to be confronted.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me!”
This is a bold statement by Jesus.
It forbids us from keeping Jesus in the realm of simply a great moral leader.
How can a person be a great moral teacher and leader if they teach others that the ONLY way to God is to come through them. That’s bold. It eliminates the option that he was simply a good moral leader.
No one is good if they tell people this.
Where does that leave us?
In the video below I break this down by looking at the only options we face as we consider what Jesus said.
It’s not very long, but this video gives a clear presentation of the options. Take a minute and watch this.
We have to decide if we believe this statement or not.
Then we can walk away from Jesus. But we must walk away completely. There is no middle ground.
As C. S. Lewis indicated, we cannot keep Jesus as a moral teacher, prophet of God, or even a ‘good person’ who should be an example to us. He is none of that if he is wrong about this statement.
In fact, he is worse. He is either a liar or a full blown lunatic. But he cannot be good.
If he is a liar, why would we want to follow him.
If he is a lunatic, why should we follow him.
But if we choose to believe this statement…
It demands something of us.
If this is true…
It changes things!
As I mention in the video, Jesus takes every other alternative or option off the table. If this statement is true, Jesus is the ONLY way to salvation.
So what does this mean for us?
First, it’s key to understand how controversial this statement is. I can’t say it enough; Jesus removes ALL alternatives to God.
Here’s a short list of implications from this statement we have to grapple with. (I’d love your feedback. If there are other things it implies to you, leave me a comment and let me know.)
Before we get to the implications of this, I want to let you know that I write about Biblical issues that shape culture and impact our personal lives. Want to check out my in-depth articles? Get on my list. I send my subscribers articles and special offers no one else gets.
Big Implications from Jesus’ Words
1) God Can Be Known
This is not explicit, but it is an implicit claim. By that I mean it is something implied by the words of Jesus.
Think about it this way; if Jesus said he was the way to come to the Father, it stands to reason that we CAN come to the Father. We can know Him.
He is knowable.
That’s important to keep in mind.
Jesus wasn’t just blathering on about religious stuff. He was talking to the Jewish nation who built their entire life around ‘God.’
He was saying, ‘If you really want to know God…to really come to Him, then I’m the way.
The underlying truth is that God can be known.
This is the first, and perhaps the most important aspect of this statement. God is knowable. God is accessible. We can come to Him.
In a minute I want to share with you how John uses this word in the Gospel of John. The chart below gives you a visual. Notice the words used to paint a picture of what it means to come to the Father. The key is found in the center word: Know.
Coming to the Father has an end result of knowing God.
How John uses this word:
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works would be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.
For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed.
But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.
These two verses give us a glimpse into the nuance of this word.
First, Jesus uses it in the negative (v20); he uses the term ‘avoids it’ referring to those who do not come to the light.
Second, he paints the picture of someone entering into the presence of light in order for the light to expose or show the quality of the works.
If we apply this to what Jesus says about coming to the Father, we see that it implies entering into His presence (like entering the light) and not avoiding Him.
Next, we have the story of the woman at the well.
A woman of Samaria came to draw water.
This same word is used to describe the action of the woman in approaching (coming to the well) to draw water.
Coming to the well equals approaching to draw water.
Coming to the Father equals approaching Him. Drawing near to Him.
Then we have Jesus rebuking the Jewish leaders for not seeing things with clarity.
“Don’t you say, ‘There are still four more months, then comes the harvest’? Listen to what I’m telling you: Open your eyes and look at the fields, for they are ready for harvest.
Here the term means arrival at a certain point. In this case, Jesus is teaching about the harvest of souls that were ready. He uses the analogy of a physical harvest.
In the natural world, the harvest comes (arrives) at a certain point in time.
In the spiritual world, the harvest of souls has already arrived – come to a point of readiness.
In our main text (John 14:6), Jesus is saying that to come the Father means that we arrive at a certain point. That ‘point’ or location is God Himself.
We come to the Father to arrive to Him. Makes sense?
Let’s look at one more passage.
It is written in the Prophets: And they will all be taught by God.
Jesus quotes Isaiah 54 to remind the Jews that God have them a promise that they would actually be taught of God.
He then makes the application to how own ministry…
Everyone who has listened to and learned from the Father comes to Me—
He is saying, ‘If you are paying attention to the Father, you will come to me.”
Coming to Jesus in this case is synonymous with following Him. Being in relationship with him. And being connected to him.
These verses paint a picture of what Jesus meant when he used the term ‘comes to the Father.’
Key Take-Away: Coming to the Father Means that He can be Known and Experienced
This is the foundation. It’s a powerful thought.
But there is more.
The words of Jesus also imply something about religion as a whole…
2) You Cannot Know God Except Through Jesus
Like I indicated in the video, Jesus removes all other options and alternatives.
This is an explicit statement. He is positioning himself as the ONLY way to God.
No religion can gain you access to God.
No philosophy or intellectual pursuit will bring you near to God.
Strong words that need to be grappled with.
If what Jesus said is true then there is no other way to know God or have access to Him.
And…if THAT is true, it is an indictment to all other religions.
All Other Religions Miss The Mark and
Fail At Bringing a Person to God!
The implications of this statement deserves our attention.
If this is true, then we must acknowledge something about Jesus…
3) Jesus Is Who He Claims To Be
This is another underlying aspect of this statement.
If Jesus is correct that no person can approach God unless they come through him…
And if Jesus is superior to all other religions, philosophies or ways to approach God…
Then he must be who he claims to be.
By making this statement, Jesus is positioning himself as the sole method of access to God.
Therefore, he is the only mediator between God and man.
Jesus is the only representative
That reflects the heart and mind of God
Jesus told his disciples, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father!”
He is the perfect picture of God.
So if you want to know what God is like, you have to take a good look at Jesus. He reflects the Father perfectly.
4) Jesus Is The Focal Point
This is the final observation from this statement I want to bring up.
If all this is true, then Jesus deserves to be the focal point.
I like how Paul put it in Colossians 1:18 NASB
He is also the head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.
The NET puts it this way:
So that he himself may become first in all things.
The King James nails it:
That in all things he might have the preeminence.
I realize the word preeminence is not a term we often use. But I like better than ‘first place.’
This is not a race among equals to see which one ‘wins.’
Jesus takes center stage. Not just first place.
He is not one item on a list of unrelated things.
For example, here’s a list of ‘wrong’ priorities.
This list is not ‘wrong’ because the items are bad. It is wrong because they are not connected. A ‘list view’ of life doesn’t work. Here’s why…
God may be in ‘first place’ but that doesn’t mean he has influence over #4 work. The first place position doesn’t ‘connect’ or ‘touch’ the forth place.
Notice this in the list above. Jesus is #1, but he is removed (no connection) with #3, #4, or #5.
However, if I have a circle with Jesus in the middle, and everything around the circle connects to the circle by a spoke (like a spoke on a wheel), then Jesus in the middle has preeminence. He touches and influences everything around the circle.
You can see this in the picture below. I think it speaks for itself. I hope you get the point.
Notice in this image that Jesus is in the center. He is connected (touches) all the items around the perimeter of the circle.
This is what it means to have the preeminence. Jesus is the center that controls all other things in the circle.
Life is not a list of priorities. It is a circle of influence.
With Jesus taking Center Stage!
And because what Jesus said is true in John 14:6, He now takes the place of the preeminent one.
I’m sure there are many other aspects to this. I’ve only touched a few.
I would love to hear what you have to say. What think ye?