“I Am the Way”
Benefits of Jesus’ Exclusive Claim - John 14:6
Driving along the streets and highways of our country over the last several years, I have noticed new buildings for religions that were not there a few decades ago. I also notice in the news that world religions play a large part in some stories. Religion is still a powerful force shaping the world. We live in a multicultural, multi-religious world.
Many people today are interested in spirituality. Postmodernism encourages people to write their own spiritual “story.” Some believe in one God (mono-theism), or many gods (poly-theism), or no gods (a-theism), or everything is a god (pan-theism), or God is in everything (panen-theism), or people can become gods. In all of this, society champions tolerance. Suggesting one religion may be the only way is seen as negative, narrow and contrary to our rights.
The number of religions can be overwhelming. Surprisingly, it was much the same two thousand years ago. The Greeks and Romans had many gods (poly-theism) like Zeus, Hermes and Artemis (Acts 14:12-13; 19:24-35). Foreign cults, like Isis from Egypt and Cybele from Asia, were becoming mainstream in Rome and Greece. In Jerusalem, Herod’s magnificent temple project dominated the skyline but Judaism had divided into parties and sects like the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Zealots, Herodians and Samaritans.
The altar “To An Unknown God” in Athens (Acts 17:23) showed it was OK for some to add to the long list of gods just to be on the safe side and one shouldn’t be narrow about religion. The first century was also much like our day in that it was a time of change, growth and great building projects for religion, sports, and otherwise.
Into this confusing religious scene, God sent His Son Jesus. God saw the needs of people and sent an answer to their spiritual longings. He sent Jesus into a multicultural multi-religious world with a clear message that He loves people and has provided a way for them.
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). Many people, however, rejected His claim as being too narrow and against human freedom just the way many reject Him today. Rejecting Jesus’ claim too quickly, however, misses much of the beauty and power of what Jesus is saying. It is worth asking, what are some of the benefits of Jesus exclusive claim?
Clear Jesus’ way is clear. Jesus taught openly to give us a crystal clear picture of who God is and how to know Him. Jesus’ light and clarity overcome the darkness and confusion of the world.
Simple Jesus’ claim is simple, yet rich and deep. He does not ask us to follow complicated systems of rules. He puts before us the simple, clear goal of following Him.
Freedom Jesus gives us life freely (John 10:10). He frees us of the burden of inventing our own spiritual stories. He gives us infinite room to grow as disciples on His way that leads to life and true spiritual freedom.
Certainty Jesus gives us a future home. We don’t need to pry into the future by dark and secret means. He told us where we are going. Following Him leads to our Father and His house. He gives us peace about the future. He doesn’t tell us everything that will happen along the way but He assures us that we will make it to His Father’s house if we stay on His way.
Memorable Jesus’ claim is easy to remember. It does not involve difficult initiation rights or memorizing long religious codes. Jesus’ “yoke is easy” and His “load is light” (Matthew 11:30).
Eternity The reward of following Jesus is being raised to life in eternity with His Father. Jesus takes away the burden of trying to please God only by our own efforts puts our focus on Him.
Forgiveness Jesus removed the roadblocks between us and God. We cannot earn God’s favour. Jesus died on the cross for our sins to answer God’s justice and holiness. God will forgive us and be pleased with us because of what Jesus has done for us. This is the good news.
Peace Jesus frees us from the worry that perhaps we have missed something, that perhaps there’s an “unknown god” or a secret way that we overlooked on the highway of life. Jesus lays this to rest. He is the way. Jesus brings peace in the midst of life’s trials.
Life Jesus is the living way. Unlike religious leaders who have come and gone, He is alive. He Himself is the road to follow. He is also our goal, the “life.” He shows us what we are to be like spiritually and how to live in this world.
Proven For centuries, millions of people have followed Jesus and found that His way has proven to give hope for the future and peace in the present. Following Jesus can take us through challenging experiences that will stretch us and cause us to grow, yet His way is tried and proven.
God wants to mould us to be like Jesus. Following Jesus is a great way to live. Jesus brings meaning, truth, life and adventure to us now. Following Him is not dull. It stretches us and challenges us. He frees us from the need to build monuments and keep them up. His greatest work is in our hearts. He changes our focus from religious buildings to spiritual living. We are God’s building. We are God’s temple.
What about our rights? God has given everyone the freedom to choose. This comes with being made in His image. God gives us a clear and simple choice to find peace . As those in the first century who chose God’s clear and simple way began to travel along Roman roads to towns, cities and the countryside to spread the good news throughout the Empire, the Romans accused the early Christians of being atheists because they didn’t have any stuff. They didn’t have temple buildings or priests or elaborate rituals or special clothes. They had one another and they had their faith which was called in very simple terms “the Way” (Acts 9:2; 19:9; 19:23; 24:14; 24:22). They had caught the vision, the clarity and the benefits of Jesus’ exclusive claim, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” and they were on the way with Him.