Monday, 18 April 2011 12:34

I am The Way, The Truth, And The Life

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Today we will be looking at John 14:6 which gives us Jesus’ sixth “I am” statement in the gospel of John. Earlier in John we are told Jesus describes Himself saying, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger….” Next Jesus says, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” Then Jesus says, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture.” Following that we hear Him say, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” Then Jesus makes the astonishing statement, “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” And now today, we will reflect on Jesus’ saying in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” This verse, as we will hear, tells us good news. Indeed, “the glorious gospel of the blessed God” as Paul puts it in I Timothy 1:11. Oh, hear Jesus say this now on top of all that He had already said about Himself. I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” With this statement of Jesus under the theme, “The splendid straightforward gospel”, we will look at its clarity, its importance, and its comfort.

To understand what Jesus means with this sixth “I am” statement we need to realize the context. Always Scripture, to be rightly understood, needs to be considered in the light of its setting and context. We know all the words and events of John 13-17 took place, when? The last night before Jesus’ crucifixion! The next day, and Jesus Himself was aware of it, He would be crucified on Golgotha. But now it is the evening before still, and He had the last Passover where He also instituted the Lord’s Supper from then on for His people. Judas Iscariot had left already to make the arrangements for the final betrayal of Jesus as John 13:30 informs us. But now Jesus, still in the upper room with the remaining disciples, has parting words for them and also words of love and admonition. It is amazing while Jesus in that last evening before His own death might have reasons to be so preoccupied with Himself, instead we see and hear Him ministering all the while to His disciples. And we see Jesus especially seeking to encourage the disciples in this last evening with them before His death. Jesus saw how troubled and perplexed the disciples were. They sensed something so sad and dark was about to happen, and they were so struggling in confusion and even despair. But Jesus says, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me.” And then we have those beautiful verses where the Saviour speaks of the promise of heaven and the glory of heaven; and how He Himself will go there and prepare a place there for all His own, and He will come again to bring all His own to be with Him where He soon would be going. That where I am, there ye may be also”, Jesus says to His disciples.

And then Jesus says to them in vs. 4, “And whither [where] I go, ye know, and the way ye know.” But this brings the question of Thomas, speaking really on behalf of all the disciples, “Lord, we know not whither [where] thou goest, and how can we know the way?” How we should be so thankful for this question for it brings out Jesus’ splendid straightforward gospel response, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.

What is Jesus clearly saying here then? Well, obviously the Saviour is talking about the way to heaven. Even as He is about to lay down His life for His sheep, about to shed His blood to save His people from their sins, the Lord Jesus maintains here, He through His Person and work is the only way to get right with God again. Only through Jesus can we be reconciled and redeemed, and have hope of forgiveness of sins and everlasting righteousness before God on our account. Through Jesus Christ alone and His saving work will we find a room in one of the heavenly mansions in glory. What is clearly and emphatically being taught here is that there is no way to glory but through Jesus Christ and faith in Him, and that only Jesus Christ can be and is the Saviour of sinners. As Peter says in Acts 4:12: “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

Of course, to understand this rightly we need to realize what the Bible teaches us about mankind fallen in sin with Adam and Eve. With the fall into sin, all people are now conceived and born in sin, and we come into this world not knowing the way of the Lord and intent even on going all the wrong ways rather than God’s way. We, of ourselves guilty and corrupted in sin, can never on our own bring about a way back to God. We have lost the way and never can open up the highway back to God on our own, no matter what anyone might think, say, or do. The solemn reality is that all of us by nature are rebels before God, blind in the way of sin, hardened in that way, and bent on continuing that foolish sinful way except God Himself save us. The Bible teaches clearly our fall into sin and sinful life brings upon us the just condemnation and holy wrath of God. We need someone to save us from our sins and sinfulness, delivering us from the guilt of our sin and the bondage of our sin and the punishment for our sins; and without a Saviour Whom the holy God Himself can fully approve of, we will certainly and justly so perish forever in our sins, suffering in body and soul forever God’s just punishment for our sins and sinfulness. Do you too realize this Biblical teaching about yourself as a fallen depraved sinner by nature? Without someone truly accomplishing for you total forgiveness of all your sins in thought, word, and deed, and apart from someone also placing before God on your behalf a totally sinless life of perfect righteousness from beginning to end, you remain under the holy and just wrath of God. As sinful fallen people, we can never save ourselves. You and I need a complete and perfect, everlasting, almighty, compassionate Saviour or we will never ever be acceptable to God nor get to heaven. No way!

But this is the clear gospel message. Jesus Christ is that Saviour we each so desperately need. And this is Jesus’ word, even as He is about to go to the cross to lay down His life for His sheep: I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me. Do you hear this gospel word, this splendid, straightforward gospel indeed?

Let us just reflect on the words of the text. We know the focus of this “I am” saying is that Jesus is the way, for Him being the way is what is especially mentioned in the passage. Some have thought that you could maybe interpret the text to read even, ‘I am the way, that is, the true and the living way’, but the Greek text doesn’t allow for that. Yet we can say, with Jesus being the way and the truth, that declares Jesus being the way of salvation for us most reliable! And with Jesus being also the life, that makes Him being the way also most hopeful! Do you see with the combination of these three realities about Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life, what the text declares so clearly? If you are looking for real reconciliation with God and blessed eternal life with Him, then Jesus Christ is the One alone to look to, and to trust and follow with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Jesus is the way because He is the truth and the life. As one commentator put it well, “the triple expression in John 14:6 emphasizes the many-sidedness of Jesus’ saving work”. Jesus Christ here is emphasizing in clear and unmistakable terms the uniqueness and sufficiency of His Person and work as the God-sent and God-approved Saviour of sinners.

Does our text draw you to Him, dear friends? How many of you have been in a corn maze and you couldn’t find your way out? Have you ever been lost in traffic, or lost in a forest not knowing the way you needed to go? Far more seriously, we are all lost spiritually except when found and saved by Jesus Christ the Saviour. Do you hear what John 14:6 proclaims to us? It is a text not just showing us the way, but proclaiming Jesus Christ as Himself the way, the way of salvation for us. God through His Word tells us here that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of sinners, not partially, but totally so. He is the Way, from beginning to end. And He is the Saviour of sinners not maybe and perhaps, but truly and really for He is the truth! And He is the Saviour of sinners in a life-giving and life-renewing way, bringing abundant life and eternal life. You see He is the way, the truth, and the life. This threesome sixth saying is surely splendid straightforward gospel, so good for us also to hear today.

Isn’t it striking that Jesus says this too, that He is the way and the truth and the life as only Saviour of sinners for us, even before His crucifixion and resurrection? How right what one said about this statement of Jesus, “We should not overlook the faith involved both in the utterance and in the acceptance of these words [of John 14:6] spoken as they were on the eve of the crucifixion. ‘I am the Way’ said One who would shortly hang impotent on a cross [by all appearances at least]. ‘I am the Truth’, when the lies of evil men were about to enjoy a spectacular triumph, [at least so it would seem like]. ‘I am the Life’, when within a few hours His corpse would be placed in a tomb [dead and lifeless indeed]!” Yet, you see, Jesus Himself so trusted in His Father’s promise and will that through His once for all sacrifice on behalf of sinners, yes, by His absolutely perfect sin-atoning propitiatory offering in the place of sinners, Jesus knew plenteous redemption for sinners would be accomplished.

Notice too how what Jesus says in our text is so wonderfully confirmed the very second He also breathed His last on the cross of Golgotha the next day. What happened among other things when Jesus bowed His head and gave up the ghost? Then, as we are told in Matthew 27:51, “And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom…” This means entrance into the very holiest of holies was now open wide for whoever would come to God through the Saviour, Jesus Christ. With Jesus’ life and ministry and His once for all sacrifice on sinner’s behalf, the way is opened for us to be reconciled with the holy God and restored in His favor and even be granted freely the gift of eternal life with Him in everlasting glory. That is the tremendous gospel of Jesus Christ!

This again is confirmed in Hebrews 10:19ff where the inspired writer says, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he has consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an highpriest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith…” And this is what God’s true people do. They trust and follow Jesus Christ as Saviour of sinners, He Who is the way, the truth, and the life. In fact, do you know how the Christians in the book of Acts are described at least five times? As the people of the way! Acts 9:2; 19:9 and 23; and 24:14 and 22 tell us this. Would that same characterize you and me today? True Christians are all those following in spirit and truth Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Saviour of sinners, seeing Him always, and testifying of Him too, as the way, the truth, and the life.

John 14:6 - we have looked so far at its clarity in proclaiming the splendid straightforward gospel. Now let us move to our second main point and consider its importance. Why is it so important to hear this gospel message and to proclaim it again and again and to hold it out to others as well? Different reasons can be given underlying the importance of what John 14:6 states. One reason is especially also the last part of the verse where Jesus says, “No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” With these words Jesus is underlining the fact that there is no other Saviour of sinners to be found anywhere. The absolute truth is, also in our 21st century, only Jesus Christ can save sinners, and apart from being joined to Him in true faith, you simply cannot and will not be saved, meaning that outside of belonging to Christ you remain in your sins and you will go to hell. There is just no question about that fact.

Notice how straightforwardly Jesus puts it. “No man”, meaning not anyone anywhere ever in all the world and in all history shall come to the Father and be saved and go to heaven, except it be through Jesus Christ the Saviour, by grace through faith in Him. So we have to maintain on the basis of Scripture all other religions are false and wrong, leading people on the path that leads to destruction. All other religions are man-made deceitful religions, from this world and of the devil, and not from God. John 14:6 calls us to earnestly hold to this fact and lovingly, urgently to proclaim it too. Anything you hold to as a belief and conviction which is not in line with the Holy Bible and in submission to it, is just plain wrong. Contrary to the ideas in our politically correct age and our tolerant pluralistic society, there are not many roads to heaven, but only one way to heaven. All who deny and discount Jesus Christ as described and proclaimed in John 14:6 are on the broad way that leads to destruction. Are you too heartily convicted and convinced of this gospel truth, dear friends? I know it is not popular to say this, but the Christian church and every Christian is far off the mark, and proving to be no true Christian at all when this is no longer something sincerely held to and earnestly upheld by us.

So then the gospel word of John 14:6 is very important in our day still. Why? Well, because it proclaims a matter most crucial. It is not about the way to the nearest Walmart store, the way to pass your exam at school, or the way to make a million, or the way to succeed in this life, but it is about the way to find forgiveness of sin and become right with God and to have the gift of eternal life. John 14:6 deals with the most important basic needs and problems we have, like that of sin, Satan, death, and hell, and the only way of escape from all that. And this verse proclaims the only way possible for us to find forgiveness of sin and everlasting righteousness before God and the gift of eternal life in heaven. We are talking about the things that really matter in all our lives more than anything else.

But not only that, what makes John 14:6 so very important in every age, and repeatedly so, is the sad reality that this gospel truth is so often blatantly denied, or foolishly forgotten, or perversely twisted and downplayed and compromised. What do I mean? So many people also in our day see religion as the way, the truth, and the life. If only they don’t live a really bad life and more or less do a few good works and participate in some religious church activities and rituals, people conclude all is well with them. How many don’t fool themselves in thinking their baptism in church will give them their ticket to heaven, or their going to mass or communion, or their doing this or that religious deed. But, you see, nothing of ourselves can ever bring about our salvation before God. This is the gospel truth so rediscovered in the 16th century reformation movement! Martin Luther was, like Paul formerly Saul in the book of Acts, most zealous in living righteously but only becoming more convinced how unrighteous he still was before God’s holy perfect standard of righteousness. God is so infinitely righteous and perfect and He justly demands absolute total perfect obedience from you and me in all our thoughts, words, and deeds, with no sin and wrongdoing ever and the fact is, none of us can achieve that. Our lives are full of sin and shortcoming, as Paul says, “We all fall short of the glory of God.” So it is tragic and the great delusion of many to think some religious activity and kind deeds on our part should make us acceptable to God after all. No, left to ourselves we ever remain under the just wrath of God as sinners, and we are always incapable of making amends with the thrice holy God of ourselves. Except Jesus Christ as the way and the truth and the life save you, you are lost and remain lost, doomed and damned forever.

I wonder if anyone is yet holding on to something of yourself for your acceptance before God and your guaranteed escape from hell and sure ticket to heaven. If you don’t know about coming to Jesus Christ as only Saviour and Lord and confessing before Him your hopeless case because of your sins and sinfulness, and pleading for His mercy and grace for an undeserving guilty sinner as yourself, then you are not yet saved. What the Reformation movement again so rediscovered by God’s mercy, on the basis of God’s holy Word, is that we are saved only always by grace alone, without any merit on our part whatsoever, and through faith alone, coming to Christ and trusting Him for the whole of our salvation from beginning to end. Thank God for the splendid straightforward gospel of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of sinners!

The recorded history in the Bible itself of the covenant people of God and also of the early New Testament church, however, makes so clear we can’t hear it enough, and we need to be reminded of it again and again, that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no man comes to the Father but by Him! Are you persuaded of this gospel truth and promoting it too in your family, and in your life, at home, at work, at school, and at church and in the community? Are you personally joined to Christ as your Saviour and Lord, living a life of initial and continuous calling upon the crucified and risen Saviour as your only hope of salvation and sure refuge from sin? This is what marks the true Christian, and this is what the 16th century reformers learned and promoted on the basis of the authoritative, inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God providentially rediscovered again in their dark days. And the gospel message is, “Let sinners come to Jesus for salvation while it is yet the day of grace.” In the words of Isaiah 55 even, hear what God’s Word says. “Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? And your labor for that which satisfies not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good…incline your ear, and come unto me: and hear: and your soul shall live…..Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call upon him while he is near.” This gospel invitation is so urgent for, as we read in John 3:36, “He that believeth on the Son [yes, in the way of John 14:6] hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides [remains] on him.”

Thus saith the Lord! As Jesus’ own disciples also needed to be instructed in the way of John 14:6, who will dare say that you don’t need this gospel message, this splendid, straightforward gospel word today? Dear friends, if you are wise you will ever value the Christian gospel’s clarity, and underscore its importance not just with the mind but from the heart, realizing also our third point yet: its comfort. John 14:6 further tells the great comfort of this blessed gospel of salvation being all found in Christ alone.

What does the rest of the chapter declare to us? Great gospel truths of the salvation accomplished for us in and through Christ Jesus as only Saviour and Lord. The chapter begins with telling about great comfort in trouble and turmoil, even in the face of death. It speaks of having God in heaven as our dear heavenly Father, and we being His children whom He loves and cares for with an everlasting love. Jesus speaks too of the sure promise of heaven and its wonderful eternal glories to be enjoyed in body and soul there forevermore. He tells of how in and through Him we will experience such fellowship with God and fruitful purposeful living to God’s praise. Jesus tells of how in and through Him we may have the Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives ever guiding us in the way of grace and truth, and peace, and joy. He speaks of living godly lives and knowing and having the peace of God in all circumstances regardless of the challenges in life and the opposition of Satan, sin, and this world against us. The whole point is, there are such unspeakable treasures found for you and me in and through Christ Jesus as our only Saviour and Lord. This is also why a true Christian knows and testifies he or she has everything belonging to Christ in true faith, and apart from Him no matter how much we might have or seem to have, we actually have nothing of durable substance whatsoever.

Oh, happy is the man that has the God of Jacob, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God of all comfort as revealed in the crucified and risen Saviour, as his aid. Truly he is blest whose hope of blessing on the Lord his God is stayed. Yes, thus saith the Lord. Therefore, dear friends, will you hear the Saviour say, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me” and pass His gospel message on to others, the message of John 14:6. Amen.

Hans Overduin, Radio Pastor

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