The Invitation of John 14:6
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6
Christians often use Jesus’ appeal to us as an exclusionary statement. But taken in context, the statement is far from the way it is generally misused. Using it in this mistaken way says of Jesus that He will stand in the way people reaching truth and life. This is in direct contradiction of God’s purpose: “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:17)
We always need to look at this and all Scripture in the context of when it was said and to whom it was said. Let’s do that.
Jesus has just washed the disciples’ feet, giving them a perfect example of leadership as servanthood. Judas has been identified as the betrayer and has left the Passover supper.
He reminds his remaining disciples that, as he told the Jewish leaders, “You can’t come where I am going.” (John 13:33). But then, He gives them the most important message – the first bookend:
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35)
But Peter, one of three “doh-sciples” along with Thomas and Philip, doesn’t get it. Even though he’s been told over and over, he still wants to know where Jesus is going.
Many Christians, when they take John 14:6 out of context, also relegate all Jesus says here as referring to heaven. Not so. Remember, Jesus earlier had this same conversation with James and John (and their mother). He refers here to the suffering and death He is about to face.
Peter, of course, having taken the conversation on his own self-absorbed tangent, tells Jesus he is willing to die for Him. In his own mind he was, but did not understand the magnitude of the sacrifice Jesus was about to make. Jesus lets Peter know he is not yet ready to go to the mat for Him in this way.
Instead of answering Peter directly, Jesus calms them all, and tells them to remember they are all part of the family of God now:
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When I go, I will prepare a place for you so that you will always be with me where I am.” (John 14:1-3)
Yet Thomas, even now doubting, asks Jesus, “We have no idea where you’re going. How can we know the way?” (John 14:5)
And here is where Jesus, patient as ever, continues to reassure: “I am the way, I am the truth, I am the light. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.”
He is telling His disciples not to worry about things they do not understand. Jesus is telling them to trust in Him; to trust in the Father; to believe that He and the Father are one and the same. He is reminding them to turn inward instead of outward for their faith.
He is saying to them, “You have been a part of this beautiful mystery. You have seen the people I ate with, touched and healed. You have been a part of the people I reached out to, from the poorest to the wealthiest. You have experienced my love of all people from a Roman centurion to a Samaritan woman. Go and do likewise.” This is John 14:6 in context.
And here comes Philip: “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”
To which Jesus replies, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!” (John 14:8-11)
Jesus goes on to explain that when He leaves them, they will receive the Holy Spirit (the “place He will prepare for them so that they will always be with Him”) who will remind them of all Jesus has said, again reminding them He does not leave them as orphans but as members of the family of God. He also reiterates the point he started with – the second bookend – before being derailed into this sidebar discussion:
“Anyone who loves Me will listen to My voice and obey. The Father will love him, and We will draw close to him and make a dwelling place within him. The one who does not love Me ignores My message, which is not from Me but from the Father who sent Me. I have spoken these words while I am here with you. The Father is sending a great Helper, the Holy Spirit, in My name to teach you everything and to remind you of all I have said to you.” (John 14:23-26)
Will you listen to His voice and extend His loving, inclusive invitation?