The Way, The Truth, The Life

by Dr. Mark Cook, DBU Faculty

Day 17 of Advent

Today's Reading

John 14:6

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.

No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, ESV)

Jesus’ self-referential statement here in John 14:6 is such a remarkable summary of both what his own life meant as well as what he offered to those who followed him. Augustine summarized this well when he said that “a person who lives by faith owns the whole world’s wealth, for though he may have nothing he possesses all things if he but clings to you, the master of them all.” What I want to briefly explore in this advent meditation is how this I am statement from Jesus invites us to respond to him.

First, it is an invitation to surrender to Jesus. Many of us are well-schooled in the way, truth, and life of autonomy, and so need to hear the refreshing reminder that we are not at the center of the universe. Jesus as the way, truth, and life, shifts us away from self-referential living and gives us instead the glorious vision of Jesus being before all things, holding all things together, and being pre-eminent in everything, as Paul described in Colossians. C.S. Lewis incisively reminds us that “A rejection, or in Scripture’s strong language, a crucifixion of the natural self is the passport to everlasting life. Nothing that has not died will be resurrected.”

Secondly, this statement from Jesus is an invitation to follow him. The invitation to respond to Jesus by following him is beautifully expressed in the 2019 ACNA Book of Common Prayer’s Friday morning collect, which reminds us that the Jesus way leads us through is the way of the Cross: “Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified; Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the Cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace.”

Surrendering to and following Jesus is the very essence of the Christian’s daily life, yet it is so easy to forget this basic truth. We cannot experience the abundant life that is offered to us if we live life in our own self-sufficiency. By Jesus saying that he is the way, he is speaking to the pragmatist who sometimes forgets that life is both a journey and a destination. By Jesus saying that he is the truth, he kindly reminds the rationalist that truth is more than cold logic, but is righteousness and goodness that are known by walking daily with him. And by Jesus saying that he is the life, he reminds the existentialist who wants the gift but not the Giver that there is no way in fact for a creature designed by a loving Creator to enjoy life separate from that Creator.

Jesus speaks a word to us that invites us to surrender and follow him. May each of us recognize the profound gift that that invitation is, and may we all come to glory in the new and better life that he offers us. May we give up our attempts at autonomy and embrace instead the life of wholehearted devotion to Jesus.