Deeper Into God’s Word: John 14:6

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John 14:6 (ESV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Significant Context: John 14:3-7 (ESV)

3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
4 And you know the way to where I am going.”
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Other Versions:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (NASB)

Jesus told him, “I am the Way—yes, and the Truth and the Life. No one can get to the Father except by means of me.”  (The Living Bible)

Background:

The setting of John 14:6 is the Last Supper. Jesus has already washed the disciple’s feet, identified Judas Iscariot as the one who would betray him, issued a new commandment to the disciples (that they should love one another as Jesus has loved them), and has told Peter that he will deny Jesus three times. The exchange with Peter is what then leads to Thomas’s exchange with Jesus, and then John 14:6. In John 13:33 Jesus tells the disciples that “where I am going, you cannot come”.  Peter then asks Jesus where he is going, and subsequently Thomas asks in John 14:5, “Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?

At this point, Jesus is referring to His impending sacrificial and substitutionary work on the cross, work that only He could do. Only Jesus could serve as a sinless atonement for the sins of all mankind. The disciples cannot go there; they cannot even stay awake with Jesus in the garden, or in the case of Peter, not deny Him three times. Jesus is also referring to the fact that He is going to Heaven, to the Father, to prepare a place for us. It is not the disciple’s or our place to assist Jesus in this. Jesus then explains to Thomas, to the disciples, and to us in John 14:6 who He is and we are to do.

Commentary:

In John 14:6, Jesus lays it out in no uncertain terms who He is and what it takes for all people to experience eternal life. In one of the most profound and straightforward passages in the Bible, Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus is not one of many ways to the Father; He is the only way. This verse is one of seven “I am” passages that Jesus speaks of in the Gospel of John.  These also include: I am the bread of life (John 6:35), the light of the world (John 8:12), the gate (John 10:9), the good shepherd (John 10:11), the resurrection and the life (John 11:25), and the true vine (John 15:1).  What is Jesus speaking of when He refers to himself as the way, the truth, and the life?

  • The way:  It is through Jesus and none but Jesus by which men can approach the Father. It is not just that the Father is revealed to men by Jesus or that Jesus is an example for us to follow. Jesus is not just a prophet pointing out the doctrine of salvation.  Instead, Jesus IS the doctrine of salvation. It is through Jesus Himself, and our belief in Jesus, that we can approach God.  This ties in with the second part of John 14:6, “No one comes to the Father except through me.”  Peter’s and Thomas’s questions about where Jesus is going and how they can go there are answered.
  • The truth: There are differing opinions from Bible commentators about what Jesus means when he refers to himself as the “truth”.  Some take a fairly straightforward approach and state that “truth” signifies Jesus’ fulfillment of all of the prophecies that preceded Him. Jesus is the reality and accomplishment, not a promise to be completed in the future. Others refer to the truth of God’s word, or scripture, and how it pointed to and was fulfilled by Christ.  However, the most compelling explanation of Jesus as “the truth” is the concept that Christ didn’t just speak truth, but He is “truth”.  That is, He is the true God Himself.  As stated in Meyer’s NT Commentary, “He is the self-revelation of God which has been manifested”.
  • The life: There are also differing opinions as to what is meant by Jesus “the life”.  Some point to Jesus as our source of everlasting life, the “Author and Giver” of eternal life. Some point out, however, that Jesus is also the giver of life before we die – as we develop in Him throughout our lives. We are not only given the way to eternal life, but we are also equipped and sustained by Jesus and the Holy Spirit in out present day life.

Internet Statistics of John 14:6

  • Top Verses.com looks at how many times a Bible verse is used on the internet and ranks them accordingly, with the lowest number having the most popularity. Psalm John 14:6 has a very high top 10 ranking of #3 as of 8/27/14.
  • Memverse.com assists in Bible Verse memorization. John 14:6 does not appear in the Top 100 Bible verses being memorized.
  • John 14:6 appears as #21 in the Top 100 Bible verses being read at Bible Gateway.com

John 14:6 in Modern Culture

John 14:6 is found in Christian music, from hymns to contemporary and even heavy metal Christian songs. Contemporary Christian artist Chris August talks about why John 14:6 is one of his favorite Bible verses here.  Below are some examples of John 14:6 in Christian music:

  • This song by John Hardwick, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” is directed mainly toward children practicing Bible verse memorization.  It is an excellent song.
  • This worship / praise song, “Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life” by Rich Moore also carries an excellent message.
  • Hillsong United’s “One Way” sings of John 14:6 about 2 minutes into their song. (Another Hillsong version can be heard here).
  • Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken sing “Marvelous Light”, which is found on the Soundtrack of “The Passion of the Christ”.  You have to hear the song on Spotify, but it is worth the free sign-up to Listen Here.
  • For somewhat of an 80’s throwback, Liaison sing “The Way, the Truth, and the Life”.
  • Finally, Mortification sings “Way Truth Life”.  You might not get the lyrics by listening to the song, but if you read them along here, the message is amazingly clear.
    “I have found that Christ is The Way
    I have found that Christ is The Truth
    In Him I have found Salvation
    He brings my Eternal Life!
    In Him I have Eternal Faith
    In Him I have Eternal Hope
    To Him I will give my heart
    Purpose built to share His love
    Way! Truth! Life!
    Faith! Hope! Love!”
  • There are number of Hymns based on John 14:6 (see Hymnary.org). One, found in 39 hymnals, by George Herbert (1633) is “Come, My Way, My Truth, My Life”:1. Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
    such a way as gives us breath,
    such a truth as ends all strife,
    such a life as killeth death.
    2. Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
    such a light as shows a feast,
    such a feast as mends in length,
    such a strength as makes his guest.
    3. Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
    such a joy as none can move,
    such a love as none can part,
    such a heart as joys in love.
  • Another hymn based on John 14:6 is “Thou art the Way, to Thee Alone” by George Washington Doane (1824). It is found in 521 hymnals. This is from the Lutheran Service Book, #526:
    1 You are the way; through You alone
    Can we the Father find;
    In You, O Christ, has God revealed
    His heart and will and mind.
    2 You art the truth; Your Word alone
    True wisdom can impart;
    You only can inform the mind
    And purify the heart.
    3 You are the life; the empty tomb
    Proclaims Your conqu’ring arm,
    And those who put their trust in You
    Not death nor hell shall harm.
    4 You are the way, the truth, the life;
    Grant us that way to know,
    That truth to keep, that life to win,
    Whose joys eternal flow.

John 14:6 in Art

Some examples include a pastel by Tommy Winn titled “I Am The Way The Truth The Life”.  Another is a ceramic plate sculpture by Jeannette Tuscher titled “The Way, The Truth, The Life”.

way_truth_life_1

I Am The Way The Truth And The Life by Tommy Winn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Way, The Truth, The Life by Jeannette Tuscher

The Way, The Truth, The Life by Jeannette Tuscher

Final Conclusions:

John 14:6 is a glorious pronouncement by Jesus Christ Himself identifying exactly who He is, and what is required of a believer to join Him in eternal life. The Way to eternal life is through belief in Jesus as Savior, the Truth is that Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecy and scripture and Jesus is God Himself, and the Life is not only the eternal life planned for us but also our daily walk with Jesus as Christians. While definitely not put forth by Bible scholars, it is my opinion that Jesus may be speaking of the Trinity here as well.  Is it possible that the Way is Jesus as Savior, the Truth is God the father, and the Life is the Holy Spirit, sent by Jesus to guide us in our daily life. Pray on that idea.

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