Jesus is the Way

By Rev. David Wilson Rogers |  March 29, 2014

            When preparing his disciples for their lives after his death and resurrection, Jesus spoke quite plainly and candidly to them in the upper room. He spoke of his going away from them and how they were to carry on after his departure. Part of this intimate conversation is recorded in the 14th Chapter of John.
            Thomas asked Jesus where he was to be going and our Lord responded that he was “the way, the truth, and the life.” Jesus went on to say something that has had profound implications for Christianity ever since. “Nobody comes to the Father except through me.”  
            Jesus’ words were very clear. Jesus is the way to God. Jesus is the truth of God. Jesus is the life of God. Nobody comes to God unless they go through Jesus. Applying them, however, has become a very challenging reality for Christianity for nearly two thousand years.
            Some would argue that the way to God through Jesus is primarily defined by adhering to the customs, teachings, and expectations of a given church. There may be confessions, creeds, or well-defined prayers that must be professed, there may be doctrines that must be held in unwavering faith, and there may be specific baptismal rituals that are required. Very early in Christianity—before we were calling ourselves “Christians,” the first generation of faithful believers were known simply as, “The Way.” It was emblematic of adhering to a belief system and religious custom that serves as the way to God, and therefore, staying true to the guidelines of faith is essential to the goal of reaching God.
            Others would suggest believing in Jesus as The Way is not essential to getting to God. They note that Jesus may be the way, but Jesus determines the path, not you and I and not in accordance with any given religious tradition, worship pattern, or belief system. Jesus Christ, who knows the true heart and soul of every person, provides the way to God in spite of our various doctrinal expressions of what ought to be the proper expression of faith.
            The two competing extremes both have significant value and relevance. Yet, taken to an absolute extreme, neither one is truly adequate to fully embrace what it means to trust in Jesus as the way to God. An authentic Biblical faith calls for a proactive and powerful exploration of something more.
            Shortly after saying he is the way, Jesus speaks of himself in the 15th chapter of John, as the vine. You and I are the branches that live out of that sacred vine. The key factor here is that Jesus calls us to do more than simply believe that he is the way. Jesus calls us to live out of him—to literally pattern our very selves after his lifeblood.
            While doctrinal purity has its place as a means of maintaining proper order, custom, and scriptural integrity, such rigidity can fail to capture the genuine life and vitality of the vine. Likewise, while tolerance and inclusion may be very grace-filled expressions of God’s love, ambiguity can fail to capture the focus and fidelity necessary to make a genuine difference for the Glory of God.
            To live in Jesus is to live as Jesus lives—unwavering fidelity to God, uncompromised compassion for God’s creation and all God’s children, and unquestioned vision for the promised land, and unequalled priority for justice, mercy, and love on this side of resurrection. The Way calls for a whole life lived in God’s love as first exemplified in Jesus Christ.