I am the way, the truth, and the life.
Last night I had an interesting conversation with friends around my dining room table. In John 14:6 Jesus gives the familiar quote, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” I suggested that the verse had lost some of its original life giving intent and had, instead, been reduced to the final arbiter in apologetics; the last argument to be used when debating people of other faiths.
As the discussion progressed there was a consensus that began to develop that in the church today the “way” of Jesus had taken a back seat to the “truth” of Jesus. Christians, by and large, feel more compelled to be “defenders of the Truth” rather than “people of the way”. Which is ironic as the early church was referred to as The Way. (Makes me wonder if Christians today would prefer to be referred to as, The Truth)
The 21st century church is going through a massive identity crisis and the reason for it is we have put a desire to be “true” before imitating Jesus and following his ways. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that in the John 14:6 verse Jesus mentions “Way” before “Truth”. Nothing will lead to dead, “works based” religion faster than pursuing God’s truth at the expense of His ways.
If we are not following in Jesus “way” our Jesus “truth” becomes distorted and subsequently we are no longer bringing forth Jesus “life”.
The Woman Caught in Adultery
The Pharisees were a perfect example what happens when people attempt to implement God’s “truth” without doing so through the lens of his “way”.
In John 8, a group of religious leaders bring a woman caught in adultery and interrupt Jesus right in the middle of his teaching. They wanted to test him by asking what his verdict about her would be and whether it would conflict with what the scriptures (Bible) said should be done.
The Bible was very clear; she should be killed. Her life should be ended and every person in that crowd would have been quite familiar with that judgment…including the woman on whom the judgment would ultimately fall.
That was “the truth”!
And why were the religious leaders testing Jesus on this? Well, Jesus had been developing a bit of a reputation. Word was getting around of his bringing too much love, mercy, and forgiveness to people…and not just to pious folk, but to sinners. (Nothing makes religious people angrier than too much love and mercy)
The “Way” of Jesus was cutting across what the Pharisees believe to be God’s “Truth”
(Jesus was getting to be known in the region as being one of those crazy “grace” preachers!)
So they round up a “sinner” who the Bible says should receive death and they say,
“In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
The Bible says this Jesus…what do you say? What does your “Way” say?
Jesus, after stooping down and writing some undefined words on the ground, counters with, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Dejected, one by one the group leaves until Jesus is left alone with the woman.
Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you, “Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
The religious “truth” said one thing… the Jesus “way” said another!
The religious “truth” said she should be killed, the Jesus “way” says she should be forgiven.
The religious “truth” treated her as a convict, the Jesus “way” treated her as a daughter.
Jesus refuses to condemn her, and as any loving father would do, encourages her to leave a life that is already bringing misery and death to her.
Jesus demonstrates to the religious leaders what real truth looks like.
And what is the result of the Jesus “truth” shaped by the Jesus “way”?
It’s Life! A living breathing woman who has been given a new lease on life after an encounter with the living God. She’s had her feet replanted on solid ground through “the way” of mercy and forgiveness.
The religious “truth” of the Pharisees would have just left a bloody, dead corpse!
In Christianity today we have left to many people battered, bruised, and bloody with stones of “religious truth”. It’s time to put away our stones and embrace “the Way” again!
Jesus does bring truth! He promises it! Follow in his footsteps and it will lead to life both for you and those you love. Steve Hackman