Sunday 13 November 2011

The Way, the Truth and the Life

Today's main passage is this one:

John 14:1-7: Jesus said: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

What did Jesus mean when He said that the was "the way, the truth and the life"?  Here are my thoughts.

1. Religion, philosophy, ethics or mystical experiences will never, in themselves, bring us closer to God.  It is Jesus Himself who does that, if we ask Him to.  At this point, two biblical symbols come to my mind: the ladder and the curtain.  In John 1:51, Jesus uses the metaphor of Himself as a ladder between Heaven and Earth.  This is a reference to a ladder that Jacob saw in a dream (see Genesis chapter 28).  In Hebrews chapters 9 and 10, the writer draws an analogy between Jesus' body and the curtain in the Jewish temple that separates the "most holy place" from the rest of the temple.  In Matthew 27:50-51, it says that the curtain was supernaturally torn in two when Jesus died.  The idea is that Jesus' death makes it possible for human beings to come into God's presence.

2. Although we live in a post-modern world that denies the possibility of ever knowing anything in any absolute sense, Jesus somehow both embodies truth and sustains it.  I suspect however that this is not referring to intellectual, abstract, propositional truth, but rather to a revelation of things as they actually are.  As an analogy, imagine a dusty living room that is too dark for anyone to see the dust.  Someone opens the curtains on a sunny day, the room is flooded with light and suddenly everyone can see for themselves (rather than just know intellectually) that the room is dusty.  Perhaps it will be like that when we all stand in the presence of Jesus.  There will be no arguments or debates about religion then, because everything will be crystal clear to everyone.

3. All human beings have a physical life and a mental life, but not all of them are truly alive spiritually.  The latter form of life comes only from God, and Jesus is the conduit.  In John chapter 15, Jesus uses the analogy of a vine and its branches.  The branches that remain on the vine live, whereas the ones that are removed wither and die.  Another analogy that I find helpful, which has turned up from time to time in the history of the church, is between Jesus and human mothers.  A baby in the womb can only live and grow because it is connected to its mother via the placenta.  A human being can only live and grow spiritually if he or she is connected to God via Jesus.

1 comment:

  1. Adam:
    Thank you for sharing your heart for Christ. I love your "dusty living room" analogy. I really believe that is what Paul meant that even as believers we "see through a glass darkly" now. All will be clear and bright and revealed when Christ comes. In the meantime, we trust that He will guide us by the hand in avoiding collisions with the furniture in the darkness...