In John’s Gospel there are seven statements that Jesus made declaring His ministry and purpose. They reveal not what other people said, or say about Jesus, but what He said about Himself. The ‘I AM’ statements all reveal an aspect of Jesus’ servant heart. But when Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life’ He was introducing to his disciples a radical new concept that He was the way to God.
Jesus said, I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life.
What is the meaning of John 14?
John 14 is the middle of a long discourse between Jesus and His disciples which comes near the end of His ministry. In the preceding chapter they had shared what was to be their last supper together, and Judas had left the group intent on betraying Jesus. The disciples had not grasped that Jesus would have to suffer and die, although Jesus had been trying to prepare them.
How often are we consumed with our own hopes and plans, that we are unable to hear what God is whispering to our spirit? Sometimes it is easy to shut out what we don’t want to hear and focus instead on our own thoughts. But God’s plan is bigger than our dreams. It is through prayer that we align our thinking with what God is doing and how we fit in with His plan.
Jesus began to tell His disciples more clearly that He would be with them only a little while longer. Peter, the spokesperson, asked where Jesus was going, and claimed that He would follow wherever Jesus went, even to the point of death. It was then that Jesus predicted Peter’s betrayal.
Related post: Is God ever disappointed in us?
This is the background to John 14, and the chapter begins with Jesus trying to comfort His disciples. The conversation had been disturbing, and they would have been alarmed at the thought of Jesus ‘leaving them.’ He encourages them, that this parting would only be temporary – that in fact He was going to prepare a place for them. Jesus was going ahead of them, as He has gone ahead for each one of us!
Thomas was always the one who spoke plainly, who said exactly what was on his mind. He admitted that he didn’t understand what Jesus meant. Thomas didn’t know where Jesus was going, and so could not find the way to follow Him.
I Am the Way the Truth and the Life Verse
Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.John 14:6 NIV
It is in answer to Thomas’ question that Jesus declares, ‘I am the way the truth and the life.’ For His Jewish listeners, brought up with the law, this would be a radical new concept. And one that many would find difficult to accept.
In our society truth is no longer regarded as absolute, it has been diminished to subjectivity. Many people find this uncompromising statement difficult to reconcile. But Jesus could not have made it any clearer….
I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life Meaning
What does Jesus mean by I AM?
‘I AM’ is God’s personal name which He first revealed to Moses when He was calling him to go back to Egypt and become the leader of the Israelites.
God said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM’ has sent me to you.Exodus 3:14
Yahweh LORD, became the name associated throughout the Old Testament with God’s redeeming acts. The name by which he wanted to be known by His people, as dependable and faithful.
When Jesus phrased these statements with ‘I AM’ He knew that His Jewish listeners would pick up the implication that He was identifying Himself with the most sacred and personal name of God.
Jesus is the Only Way
Jesus was introducing a new and radical concept to His Jewish audience – who at this stage did not understand what He meant. They were rooted in the Mosaic law as being the way to righteousness, and the way to life. A way that was accessible as the word of God was made known to them by His redeeming acts.
See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.Deuteronomy 30:15-16
The word of God needed not only to be in their mouth – something that they gave lip service to – but also in their heart. It is when we know God as ‘I AM,’ in a personal relationship with Him, that our faith is activated. Righteousness is only gained through faith.
Jesus was declaring who He is as ‘the Way’ eternally through His sacrifice, His death, and resurrection. In the early church Christianity was sometimes called ‘the Way’ reflecting this transformation, from righteousness by the law, to righteousness by faith in Christ Jesus.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.Romans 10:9-10
This was the radical change, from the way of the law and works, to the way of faith and grace. Jesus, as I AM the Way, is the Redeemer of the world!
Jesus is The Truth
The dictionary definition of ‘truth’ is the quality or state of being true. But do we assess truth, with moral integrity, with being true to a code or standard of behaviour? If that is our foundation of ‘truth’ it is shaky, because society’s moral code is constantly changing. What was acceptable in the past, is no longer tolerated today. What we accept today, was not tolerated even one or two generations ago. We can look back and, depending on our viewpoint, see changes for good and bad!
Jesus is the Truth, as He is the fulfilment and embodiment of the truth of God’s word:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.John 1:14
The truth of God’s word is that through the works of the law we all fall short and sin. But when we receive the revelation of the truth, our need of a Saviour, God’s justice is satisfied by Jesus’ sacrifice. We are sanctified by grace and truth and set apart for God’s service. Accepting Jesus sets us free from the bondage of sin, from condemnation, and from death. He is the Truth that we can hold onto, Jesus is completely dependable, steadfast, and never changing.
Jesus is Life
Jesus said to him, “I am the (only) Way (to God) and the (real) Truth and the (real) Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.John 14:6 Amplified
The gift of life comes through Jesus, the only way to God – not one of many ways. And He is the Truth, the complete revelation and fulfilment of God’s Word. The truth is that the only way to the Father is the way of faith, and of grace, by accepting Jesus as our Saviour.
Jesus is Life is a twofold promise and it is His gift to us. As the Good Shepherd Jesus has promised that He came to give us life and life to the full. Life with freedom from fear. Life with the peace of God in our hearts, and with the love and joy of the Holy Spirit. Jesus brings abundant life to us now.
The abundance of life is founded in the gift of eternal life that Jesus, as the Resurrection and the Life has won for us.
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.John 17:3
We receive the gift of eternal life on accepting Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. It is a future promise, when we pass from this time to eternity. But it is also a present possession. The gift is ours now, we have passed from death to life, we are reconciled to the Father. We have become children of God, through Jesus Christ His Son.
The I AM statements of Jesus are all inextricably linked as they summarise His ministry and purpose. They reveal the truth of who He was, and is, and is to come. They have the potential to stir our hearts to thank and praise the Lord for all that He has won for us.