God’s perfect, eternal plan centers on the work of Jesus Christ. God’s work does not have a backup plan because He does not need one. Christ’s work is all-sufficient, and He, and He alone, is the only way to the Father.
We are going to set the main sail and move quickly back into John chapter 14 for another visit here in the upper room. The disciples are discouraged and somewhat confused because Jesus has just told them He is leaving and they are not going with Him. Frankly, they have no idea the cross is just a few hours away.
The disciple Thomas often gets a bad rap for being a slow learner in class, but he now asks a question, and I am grateful he did. His question is going to open the door to one of the most powerful statements in all the Bible about salvation.
Their conversation actually begins in verse 3 with Jesus speaking:
“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. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (verses 3-6)
The emphasis in the original language of verse 6 can be accurately conveyed with this translation: “I am the only way; I am the only truth; I am the only life.” I want to explain each of these statements in Christ’s answer to Thomas.
First, Jesus says, “I am the way.” That is a powerful statement. Jesus is not telling Thomas and the other disciples that He will show them the way to heaven, He is telling them He is the way! And that is a lot more comforting.
Imagine that you have come to a strange town and you are looking for a place to sleep. But your phone has died, you forgot your charger, and there is no GPS. You have to find someone to give you directions to the nearest hotel. So, you pull into a gas station, and the attendant tells you to go two blocks and turn left, then go three miles and turn right, and then at the second stop light turn left. Well, that is helpful, but imagine, instead, that he tells you he is getting off work in five minutes and he will take you there himself. In that case, he does not tell you the way; he becomes the way.
That is what Jesus is saying, “I am the way. In fact, I will personally take you there one day.”
But there are a lot of people out there who want to choose their own way, thinking they can get to heaven in whatever way seems right to them. That is not only foolish; it will be fatal. The Bible says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).
Second, Jesus says, “I am . . . the truth.” If you want to know the truth about heaven, listen to Jesus. If you want to know the truth about how to live your life, follow Jesus. In fact, if you want to know what God acts like and sounds like, look at Jesus. He is the embodiment of God.
That is what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote in his letter to the Colossians, “For in him [Jesus Christ] the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (2:9). If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. If you want to know what the power of God is like, look at the power of Jesus! He is the embodiment of God in the flesh.
The question, then, is this: Is Jesus telling the truth? Unbelieving society views the Bible as interesting legends and folk stories. Well, is this carpenter from Nazareth just inventing fanciful tales to encourage a following? Is He just telling clever stories? Or is He indeed the truth?
The greatest proof that He is the truth is this: His grave is empty. He rose from the dead. The founders of all the major world religions have this in common: they are dead. In contrast, Jesus is alive today! Jesus’ teaching also contrasts with that of the religions of the world. They tell you to do a myriad of things in order to make it to their version of paradise. Jesus is the only one who says, “You don’t have to do anything—apart from believe that I have done everything for you already.”
Third, Jesus says, “I am . . . the life.” The apostle John was captivated by this word “life,” or zōē in the Greek language. He used this little word more than any other biblical writer. Here, as it often does, it carries the sense of eternal life.
Listen beloved, if you want to experience life worth living now, and then the thrilling dimensions of eternal life later, there is only one way to get it—through faith in the source of that life, Jesus Christ. Jesus says, “I am … the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.”
The world’s religions all try to do the same thing—take bad people and make them better. Only Jesus Christ qualifies to take dead people and give them eternal life.
Some years ago, I read about a tragic fire in Colorado. An article in USA Today told the story of the thirty-five firefighters who survived the fire on Storm King Mountain and the fourteen who died there. But what caught my attention was that the deaths were largely the result of wrong decisions. Of course, they had only seconds to decide what to do.
Each firefighter carries in a belt pouch a blanket called a shelter. It consists of a thin layer of aluminum foil glued to a layer of thin glass. It’s clothlike, less than an inch thick, and weighs about three pounds. It can be opened so the firefighter can lie under it in an emergency, offering limited protection against the fire.
The firefighters had been able to contain the fire on Storm King Mountain to less than fifty acres, but, on a Wednesday afternoon, powerful winds whipped the fire up so that it covered two thousand acres in less than five hours. Many of the firefighters were trapped. One firefighter said that, without warning, it just exploded. It sounded like a tornado, and everybody got out of there as fast as they could.
The article quoted one firefighter, saying, “The guys who used their shelters died. The guys who made it back onto the ground already burned lived.”
When I read this, I thought of unsaved humanity running for its life before the flames of eternal judgment, hoping in a little layer of good works, covered with baptism or money or morality. None of that will withstand the heat of God’s holy wrath.
The only ones who will live are those who stand on ground where the fires of God’s wrath have already burned. My friend, that ground is none other than Jesus Christ, for against Him the wrath of God has already been revealed, and all those who stand in Him are safe. The Bible promises this: “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
So, here is true comfort for troubled hearts:
- If you are lost, Jesus Christ is the way.
- If you are deceived by others, Jesus Christ is the truth.
- If you are without meaning today, Jesus Christ is the life.
Listen to Him. Follow Him. Believe in Him. He is telling the truth when He declares to Thomas and these disciples, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
That will bring eternal comfort to your heart, beginning today.