By Walton Weaver
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” On. 14:6)
Jesus had just said, “And you know the way where I am going” (v. 4), which led Thomas to ask, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” (v. 5) The statement of verse six is Jesus response to Thomas question. Notice that Jesus did not say, “I am a way,” but “I am the way.” On another occasion Peter asked, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” On. 6:68). Jesus answer to Thomas agrees with Peters statement, but it more directly says to Thomas and all generations since him that he is the only way to the Father. The last part of verse six says, “No one comes to the Father but through Me.”
None can doubt that Jesus is speaking of his approaching death. His disciples could not go with him to the Father now, but the time would come when they would follow him. He is telling them that he is the one and only way to fellowship with God. This way would be made possible through his death.
But more specifically, how is Jesus the way? Lets take a brief look at three aspects of this remarkable and unique claim.
The Way Out
1. Of the Bondage of the Law. Jesus is the great emancipator from the bondage of the law. He is in fact the only way out from the law which held men captive to sin. The law offered deliverance when it said, “do this and live” (see Gal. 3:12, “he who practices them shall live by them”). The only problem was “do this” meant do all the words of the law every moment of every day for ones whole life without ever breaking one single commandment. This “works” approach to deliverance proved ineffective, so much so that Paul says, “by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified” (Gal. 2:16). Man needed deliverance from this “curse of the law” (Gal. 3:13), and Christ was the only way out from such bondage (Gal. 5:1; Acts 15:10-11). The law of Moses was nailed to the cross of Christ (Col. 2:14). Through Christs death it was abolished (Eph. 2:16) and taken out of the way (Col. 2:14). This is the only way we could have been delivered from the bondage of the law.
2. Of the Bondage of Sin. The law made no satisfactory provision for sin (Heb. 10:1-4), and yet all who were under the law sinned (Rom. 3:23) and were thus left without hope. Sin results in death, or spiritual separation from God (Isa. 59:1-2; Rom. 6:23). The law is called the “ministry of death” and the “ministry of condemnation” (2 Cor. 3:7, 9). When man proved unable to keep the law perfectly the law pronounced him a sinner; he was in effect in bondage to sin without any hope of deliverance. Jesus death was mans only hope of a way out of the bondage of sin. It is in fact the only way out.
The Way In
The way out is also the way in. Jesus not only delivers us from the things which hold us in bondage, he also introduces us into the things which make such deliverances possible.
Into The New Covenant. The same act that removed the Old Covenant also introduced the New Covenant. By his death the First Covenant was made old and abolished (Heb. 8:13; Eph. 2:16), but by that same death a New Covenant was ratified and established (Lk. 22:20; Heb. 9:15-22). The New Covenant, being better than the Old (Heb. 7:22; 8:6), brings those who come into its provisions a better hope (Heb. 7:19), because it is enacted on better promises (Heb. 8:6). Christ is the mediator (Heb. 8:6; 9:15) and guarantee (Heb. 7:22) of this New Covenant. The New Covenant “gives life” (2 Cor. 3:6) and is the “ministry of righteousness” (2 Cor. 3:9). Jesus Christ is the only way into this New Covenant.
Into Forgiveness. Through the shedding of his blood Christ has opened up the way into the forgiveness of sins. He made this announcement himself at the time he instituted his supper. He took the cup and said, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:27-28). With the offering up of himself “we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, his flesh” (Heb. 10:19-20).
The same blood that ratified and established the New Covenant was also shed “for forgiveness of sins.” Those who are brought into this covenant are promised, for I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more” (Heb. 8:12). Those who believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Jn. 8:24), repent of their sins (Acts 2:38), confess their faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10), and are baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12) have their sins forgiven because at the point of their baptism they are brought into Christ where forgiveness and salvation are found (Eph. 1:7; 2 Tim. 1:10). Christ is the only way into forgiveness and salvation.
Into a New Life. As we are raised up with Christ from the waters of baptism we are “raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so that we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4). We are a new creation of God (Eph. 2:10; 2 Cor. 5:17) with respect to righteousness and holiness
(Eph. 4:24). We have now been made free from sin so that we are no longer to serve sin but righteousness (Rom. 6:16-18). This is the “abundant life” that Jesus has made available (John 10:10). Jesus is the only way into this new life.
The Way Through
But how can the one who has been delivered from the bondage of sin into a new life be successful in his war against sin? Paul argues that such a victory is possible only through Christ. “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:24-25a) Again, “But thanks be to God who always leads us in his triumph in Christ” (2 Cor. 2:14). Pauls confidence was in Christ, and so much so that he affirmed, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).
Sorrow and Suffering. Christ is our way through sorrow and suffering. Jesus spoke to burdened souls when he said, “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.” To comfort them he spoke of the place he was going to prepare for them (Jn. 14:1-3). Even in the midst of sorrow and suffering he wants our joy to be made full (Jn. 16:24), and he has done and is doing all that is necessary for such joy. Even Christ himself was not exempt from sorrow and suffering; but he was able to rejoice in the midst of them. He is also able to make this possible for his followers. Peter encourages Christians who are suffering for Christs sake, “to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of his glory, you may rejoice with exultation” (1 Pet. 4:13). The Christians joy is “in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:4). Christ is the only way to real joy in sorrow and suffering.
Anxieties and Cares. Christ knows that it is not easy to be free of anxieties and cares in this life. He is greatly concerned that we will be overcome by them. But he reminds us that we may find peace in him. “These things,” he says, “I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). He teaches us that the key to success in overcoming anxieties and cares is to trust in God (Matt. 6:19-34). Jesus Christ is the only way to freedom from anxieties and cares.
Temptation. It was Jesus who taught us to pray that we will not be led into temptation (Matt. 6:13). Paul tells us that God will not allow us to be “tempted beyond what [we] are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that [we] may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). We may be assured that no trial or trouble will befall us that will be unbearable, providing we trust God for help and are willing to accept the way of escape which he provides. Jesus is the only way of endurance in the time of trial and temptation.
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 2, p. 10
January 21, 1993