By Jeff Goins, Editor
Is Jesus “the Way, the Truth and the Life” as we often hear in church? Really? How?
In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (NIV) While this is an oft-quoted verse about the theological exclusivity of Christ, I want to explore a deeper, often missed meaning.
If we Christians believe these statements to be true, then how are we living as if they are true?
That is, if this man called Jesus — whom we believe to be the Son of God — is, in fact, the way and the truth and life, wouldn’t that have an impact on we lived every minute of every day of our lives, including how we processed ideas and truth claims, how we treated other people, and how we interacted with God? Let’s explore that for a moment.
If the above scripture is true, and I believe it is, then Jesus represents all the essential fulfillment needs in life that we are searching for: a place to belong, something true to cling to, and a purpose to live for. What more do we need than those?
Jesus as the Way
I admit that I have, at times, missed Jesus. Like a traveler without a map, I thought that I was able to navigate through life on my own, without a guide. I believed in God and felt that I was generally a good person; therefore, I believed that I was on the right path, forging my own destiny, my own way to purpose in life. From a religious standpoint, I believed that Jesus had, more or less, shown me the way and was telling me to walk in it. For the most part, however, I just had a long list of stuff I couldn’t do.
Regardless, I never imagined a God who would walk the hard paths of life with me.
But Jesus didn’t come to merely show us the way, as we sing in the popular. Rather, he came to be the way. That distinction can fundamentally change how we live our lives.
Jesus as the Truth
Jesus didn’t come to teach us the truth. He is the truth. Right doctrine isn’t propositional, as Len Sweet might say. It’s relational. Truth is not an idea or an essence; according to the Bible, it’s a Person.
As such, that means we can interact with Truth in an organic way; it is not a series of points that we simply assent to, but something that has substance and personality and even a voice.
Jesus as the Life
This idea is particularly prevalent in evangelical circles: that the statement, “Jesus is the life,” means that we get a free ticket through the pearly gates. When someone decides to follow Christ, he gets a lot more than heaven as his reward. Sure, we get eternal life, but that begins now, not when we die and not in a thousand years. Right now.
If we’re seeking to know the God of the Bible, then we are compelled to believe Jesus for what he says — that he is our very life. Not just a fire insurance policy or a far-off and distant reward. That means (unfortunately, for some of us) that following Jesus should make a difference not just after we die, but each day of our lives before we die.
The implications of these differences, if we take them seriously, could be revolutionary in our faith. Either Christ is our example for good behavior, or he is the very road we walk. Either he taught a series of philosophical precepts that we memorize and make intellectual assent to, or he is the very truth we comprehend. And either he is our prayer into the good life when we die, or he is himself the life we are longing to live in the here and now.
For those seeking to follow Jesus and struggling with these concepts, I propose a more personal approach. Try repeating this phrase next time you read the above text: “Christ is my way, my truth, and my life.”
What does it mean for you that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life?
Jeff graduated from Illinois College, a small liberal arts school, with a degree in Spanish and Religion. He lives in Nashville, TN with his wife Ashley. He works for Adventures in Missions, edits this silly little magazine, and loves to do new things. Check out his blog: Pilgrimage of the Heart.