“‘And you know the way to where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on your do know him and have seen him.’” John 14:4-7
Thomas didn’t get it. Jesus told his disciples that he was going away so that he might prepare a place for them in the Father’s house. He promised that he would come again and take them to himself. Yet Thomas didn’t get it. “Lord, we do not know where you are going.” The disciples were often slow to understand the words of Jesus. We find this surprising as the introductory words of this discourse couldn’t be clearer. Yet Jesus becomes even more lucid in verse 6: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” In his Upper Room Discourse, Jesus is always directing his disciples to himself. Even when he promises the gift of the Holy Spirit, he says, “He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (John 16:14).
This statement about Jesus being the way, the truth, and the life, is one of the many “I am” statements in John’s gospel. “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35). “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11). “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). “I am the vine” (John 15:5). Such statements teach us who Jesus is and what he is able to do for us.
In this verse, Jesus is telling us that he is the only way to God the Father. Jesus’ words highlight his uniqueness and exclusivity. He is the only way, truth, and life. “No one comes to the Father except through me.” There are not many paths to God. There is one and only one way to God, and his name is Jesus. We cannot find our way to God with good works because we cannot be good enough to satisfy the demands of a holy God. We cannot find our way to God with philosophy because we have not known the mind of God and are not wise enough to be his counselor. We cannot find our way to God with our own man-made religion because God demands that we come to him on his terms, not our own. And God tells us that Jesus, and Jesus only, is the way to truth and life. Apart from Jesus, then, we are lost, deceived, and dead. How shall we find our way? Jesus. How shall we know the truth? Jesus. How shall we live life to the fullest? Jesus.
Jesus explains why this is true about himself. “If you had know me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Jesus and the Father have something in common: divine nature. To see the Son is to see the Father because they share in the single and undivided divine essence. Jesus is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) and God “manifested in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16). If we want to know God the Father, then we can only know him through God the Son, Jesus.
Jesus is not teaching in this passage that he and his Father are the same person, but he is saying that he and the Father share the same divine essence. This distinction is important lest we obscure the distinction of persons within the holy Trinity. Yet Thomas didn’t get this. We know that he eventually came around after the resurrection (John 20:24-29). He did eventually confess, “My Lord and my God!” How does this apply to us today? Are we seeking to find our way apart from Jesus? Are we seeking the truth apart from Jesus? Are we longing for life apart from Jesus? Without Jesus we have lost our way. Without Jesus we don’t know the truth. Without Jesus we are dead. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b). We are meant to know this abundant life today. We find it by continually drawing near to God the Father through God the Son.