John 14:1-7: I Am the Way, Truth, and Life

The atmosphere is solemn and sober.  A Teacher’s words trouble and grieve His students (John 14:1, 27; 16:6, 20-22).  The air thickens with uncertainty and foreboding, as tensions rise.  By the day, their opponents turn more vicious; at night, darkening their future with dire prospects. 

A series of traumatic experiences will soon engulf and suffocate His followers.  Within their ranks, treachery will confound them.  No one among them comprehended such disloyalty!  Struck down by betrayal, with several-hundred Roman soldiers to soon arrest their Rabbi, these disciples stagger in the swelter of fear.

To prepare them, their Leader tutors them one final time.  Deliberate and focused, He sharpens His words to those who lived and learned from Him for three years.  Now, He cracks open the piercing news.  In no time, He will die and depart from them. 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled,” comes next.  “Trust in God, trust also in me.  In my Father’s house are many dwelling places.”  Now, Jesus voices something they should understand, since He is telling them about His eternal home, “You realize where I am going.”  Soon, He returns to His Father in heaven, showing them where eternal joys flourish, free from turmoil and tempest.  These are supporting and reassuring words.

Stunned and astounded, Thomas speaks up, “Lord, we’re not sure where you are going, and we’re clueless about this “way.”  Out comes one of the most well-known phrases in the New Testament, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” 

Do these bewildered men imagine another way to everlasting glory?  No.  So, Jesus isn’t declaring this to convince them to follow Him, or they’re going to hell.  Not at all, He is encouraging and comforting them—He is the way, the Redeemer who brings His believers into His heavenly house to live. 

The One, who is Truth, reveals the heart of God.  With divine existence within Him, the incarnate Son embodies the life from heaven.  Now, those below can live above. 

The context of what Jesus does is king, for He isn’t arguing with His followers about which religion is the right one.  Do they not realize this?  Yes, so He, instead, is bracing them for what will follow after the storm: In Him, heaven becomes theirs.  Don’t miss this—Jesus isn’t the information or direction for the way.  No, He IS the way.  Every person united to Him belongs to heaven as much as Christ does. 

What is Jesus doing?  In their grief, He assures His disciples of what is theirs: an eternity with God.  Identify the comfort that their Lord instills in them, revealing God’s character.  The almighty Father is not uncaring or unapproachable.  No, because Jesus exists in the Father and the Father in Him. 

So, Christ can, and precedes to the Father, to prepare a place for them.  These are no directions.  The soon-to-die Messiah is telling them the reality, no matter what they experience in the coming days. 

Still, what benefit will they receive if Jesus claims to be the Way, but is lying?  So, He also bolsters them by affirming what He says is true, for He is the Truth.  To be the Truth is a state of being, which is more than being truthful, for speaking truth is something someone does.  With Jesus, Truth dwells deeper, as part of His essence. 

So, Christian Truth doesn’t only consist of high ideals, or a set of principles to embrace, or a list of propositions to believe.  Now, if your brain flows with intellect, your mind needs to grasp more about the Faith and should be able to articulate aspects of what you say is real.  Nevertheless, like faith, truth does not depend on one’s intelligence.  No, the saving Love of God is Truth, coursing inside Christ, the compassion of the Father enfleshed in love for others. 

Eternal Truth isn’t some idea, but a Person, Jesus.  The Way to heaven, the One who is Truth, makes this real.  So, this means Jesus can give us the life within Him, which is why neverending life is a gift He gives us.  Let’s not stop yet because He is also the gift of life itself.  In His death and resurrection as God, He imparts the Life He is, in His being and substance to us. 

So, if you think life is an ideal, a zest for living, or an optimistic attitude toward everyday matters, you’re limiting yourself too much.  To be joined to Jesus is to experience God.  The Being and Self of Divinity reaches down to us in Word and Sacrament, dwelling within us, embracing us, transforming us, and empowering us.

Only as God, the “I AM,” can Jesus be the Way, the Truth, and the Life because these all derive from God.  Only because Jesus is God, can He be the Way to the Father and His Truth, embodying the Source of Life.  All this reduces down to grace.  The Being of Jesus does all this, not us.  So, when He comforts His disciples, telling them, “No one comes to the Father but through me,” He is giving them hope for the time ahead. 

Eternal life from God’s Son does not depend on what we do, but Him.  For salvation is a result of His mercy and kindness.  Your redemption is as exclusive as that, and yet, as inclusive as that.  Through Christ, God bestows the benefits of His grace to those who believe in His Son by the Spirit’s doing. 

Now, if Jesus is not an idea but skin, bones, sinew, and blood, how do we enflesh His reality in our lives?  First, don’t use today’s sermon verse contrary to your own Lord.  Some reason like this—since Jesus is the Way, you must accept and believe this, or heaven will never be yours. 

Must you believe?  Yes!  Still, what does your believing do, change the heart of God?  No, for this turns faith into work, which we can’t originate within ourselves, which is why God gives such trust to someone as a gift.  The verse’s emphasis is not on whether to decide for Jesus—as if you can generate this inside your sinful heart, you can’t. 

Here’s the point.  With your Savior as the “Way”; in Him, all is yours.  So, He isn’t informing those disciples of long ago about their need to believe.  No, He is comforting them, unveiling all will be well.  Don’t go searching somewhere else because any other road will lead you astray.  Not with Jesus, so let not your hearts be troubled.

Consider what Jesus’ name means, “God is salvation.”  In Him, resides the embodiment of eternity.  For only in the bones and flesh of our deliverance, does Jesus live to be the way of forgiveness and life for us.  Now, since this is true, you believe.  Your salvation is up to God, which is why someone trusts in Him.

Don’t consider faith as agreeing to something by your intellect.  Now, if this is so, only people smart enough can believe.  Excluded are babies, those with weak IQs, and so on, which denies Christ’s own words, who spoke of infants with faith.  In Matthew 18, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me…”  (Matthew 18:6). 

Little children become part of God’s family by being born from above by water and Spirit (John 3:3, 5).  From the divine waters of life, we begin our pilgrimage to the Father’s house, trusting in Jesus because He is the way.  By taking in more of His truth, we continue our journey homeward, to the Father (2 Peter 3:18).  For when we live in the life of our Lord, we enjoy both the way and the truth. 

The essential truth is His incarnation, in us—“Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).  The Son of God, His Word, His grace, and His Spirit don’t only encourage us; no, they also enliven and empower us!  “By God’s grace, I am what I am,” wrote Paul, “and his grace toward me did not prove vain.  No, I labored more than any of them—yet not I, but the loving-favor of God working through me” (1 Corinthians 15:10). 

The work of Christ within you is the life of God.  Now, in and through you, Christ is working, as you trust in Him as the truth, follow Him as the way, and thrive in His presence.  Still, we’re practical people.  Tell me, Pastor, how does this take place?

Simple, with Christ dwelling in us, we let Him live through us.  How?  In our different capacities and talents, we serve one another.  Each Christian comes with unique abilities and personality.  Value these as gifts of God, who equips you through those for the callings He gives you. 

In this way, living in the Way, the Christian life becomes real.  Now, faith and grace, the sanctified life and virtuous deeds transfigure everyday life with the presence of God.  To live out the Life of Christ doesn’t mean you must be a pastor.  No, Jesus turns everything you do into something sacred, as you serve Him by serving others.

How can you discern if you are doing God’s will?  Use this test: How does what I do serve my neighbor?  Think of who your neighbors are in your areas of service.  Ponder, how can you help them and be the face of the Father’s love in their lives.  Remember, faith is for God, but your works are for your neighbor.

Like salvation is the result of God’s action, consider what you do as an ongoing expression of His activity.  For when you receive Jesus’ Life, He enables you to appreciate your work as a gift.  How?  Through blessings received from others, and in the ways God chooses to work through you. 

Every week, you gather here to receive forgiveness, feed on God’s Word, and deepen your belief in Him.  After, He sends you out into the world for your faith to produce fruit in acts of love.  All this is from Christ for you, in you, and through you.  Amen.