If I were to think of the most popular verses of the Bible I have learned as a young child, I would pick ones like John 3:16, Romans 12: 1-2; Philippians 2:12; and John 14:6. John 14:6 had always been one of those “evangelistic” verses I was taught in order to save souls from the depths of hell. And, though I believe perhaps there is some bend in that general direction, I have to admit that oftentimes I have always skimmed or even skipped the context in which these words were written.
So I want to take a few moments and investigate the context in which this passage was written for and then perhaps paint with a thinner brush how we can incorporate these thoughts as the present themselves in our daily lives. For part of this thought process, I am going to put the Word of the text in italics while putting my own thoughts in bold. My thoughts will be in a more “question-thought” orientation as to what I would guess the disciples would be thinking as they heard the words of Christ. I do not claim in anyway to know the exact thoughts of the disciples – I can only attempt to place my thoughts after hearing these words for the first time. I know that I will most likely be extremely off in thought but I hope that perhaps my “thoughts” of the disciples will be close to what their thoughts in this respect.
Let not your hearts be troubled. Why would our hearts be troubled Lord? Why should we be concerned? You are with us, as you said you would always be. You are Emmanuel, God with us. We have nothing to fear. Believe in God; believe also in me. We do believe in YHWH. He is so good. His law is good and so are His ways! Of course we believe in God… Believe in you? Why wouldn’t you? What’s wrong? Did something happen? Why are you telling us this? In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, I would have told you that I go and prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself that where I am you may be also. All right, what’s the deal? Why are you talking like this? You are going to see the Father? When are you doing that? I thought you said you were going to be with us till the very end of the age? Are you saying we are no longer going to be poor, going from city to city anymore? It would be so nice to reside in one place and have a home… Won’t you need help? I mean, it takes a lot of work to prepare a place – we are strong and healthy – we can help you prepare the place. Where is this place and why haven’t we been there before? And you know the way to where I am going. We know the way? What do you mean we know the way? Did someone drop the map to where we are supposed to go? I don’t remember learning the way to the Father’s house! Oh man… Which disciple dropped the ball this time? Someone is in big trouble.
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Oh good, No one has lost the instructions. Now the Master will give us the instructions again – or for the first time – it doesn’t really matter which. I am just glad we will know how to get there. I don’t want to be away from Him. He called me to follow Him. I have left everything I have to be with Him and He has changed my life. And now that I am learning to understand who He is, I don’t want to spend a moment away from Him. He said I could be like Him… No one has ever told me that before. I wonder what how He will respond.
I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. You are the way? What on earth do you mean? We have been following you for almost 3 years and now you are saying that you are the way to the Father? This is unbelievable! He is leading us to the Kingdom. If He is going to leave us to establish His Kingdom that means that it is almost ready. Oh man. This is great. I wonder what it looks like…
As I said – I do not claim to have the authority or the knowledge of the original 12 to state any of those thoughts. To me, they seem almost begging questions and thoughts that perhaps the disciples would have thought about. We need to constantly remind ourselves that the fullness of what Jesus was about to do had not hit the disciples yet and therefore, it was very confusing. For me, if I had walked with Jesus as one of the 12, I guess my thoughts (but in bold) would have been the multiple thoughts and questions I would have had. Maybe my thoughts are ridiculous in that I could not possibly understand all that Jesus was sharing with His disciples. Perhaps they understood what it meant when Jesus said, “I am the way.” Then again, perhaps they were as confused as I am. I can’t be sure. I can only surmise my thoughts based on the text we are given – and it seems as though there were a lot of questions to be asked and a lot of confused disciples during this unique conversation. As we can see in the text, the conversation does not end here. In fact, there is a whole new set of questions for another day that pop up after Jesus announces that He is the way and the truth and the life.
As I sat and contemplated this passage last night with a group of people, I was more confused after taking the time to read it over and over again than when I had simply memorized the passage for a gold star in Sunday school. What is Jesus really saying in this passage to His disciples (me being a regeneration of the 12 as well)? There are a few things that we discussed about this passage that I thought I would share and then conclude this post with my own thoughts.
First we are told that we know the way to where Jesus is going. I think that is a remarkable statement Jesus could have made. He says He is the way – the journey, the path, and the road – and through Him, we will be united with the Father in His house. The only “map” is Jesus, and the journey that we experience through Jesus – living day in and day out – is the Journey we are called to take as His disciples. The place where the journey ends is the Father’s house. The disciples ask a very definite question and Jesus answers with three very broad, abstract responses: Way, Truth, and Life. How do we understand this? How do we live, believing this though?
I conclude this with some thoughts of my own: Verses 2 and 3 are familiar words a groom would speak to his bride after they have become engaged. The groom was responsible for building a place where he and his bride could live. The residence of this place would be connected to his father’s house. And, when the father said that the house was suitable for them to live in, the groom would race to his bride and they would be married and united in marriage. The bride would wait each day and place a lamp of oil lit in hopes that her groom would come soon. Remember the parable of the virgins? Half of them did not have any oil left and the other half did. The ones whose oil lasted were taken to be with the groom and the ones who did not have any oil left, were put outside. That parable, coupled with these events, puts a new spin on “Letting our light shine before all men.”
Jesus is the way – the journey and the path. My question is: Do I believe that? Do I realize how crazy it is that Jesus is my path and my journey? Do I live as though Jesus is the path in which I follow? I would love to say that I do but oftentimes I do not. I struggle with the best of them to believe such a thought. I believe the fact that Jesus calls us to follow Him, as He did the disciples, bares a huge amount of obedience. If Jesus is willing to invest in me, I should be more than willing to walk with Him as He leads us. My desire should ultimately mean that the dust of Jesus’ feet land on me as we walk. I don’ always live that way though. I don’t wake up each morning and say, “Lord. You are the way, the truth and the life. There is no other journey I would rather take than the journey that leads me to the Father. Help me to continually learn the way, the truth and the life that you give me each day.” I should though – and will probably end up writing something like that in bold letters on my computer and printing it out so that I can tape it up near my bed so that I am faced with it each day before my feet hit the ground.
When we continually live the way, the truth and the life through Jesus, we are free to be ourselves. This is the greatest joy we can experience as disciples of Jesus Christ. It is a great joy indeed.