“Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.'” John 14:6 NLT
I was all set to fly into Cleveland to speak on Sunday morning at my friend’s church. I checked my flight, and I was to arrive Saturday at 3:30 pm. I planned to tour the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I had always wanted to see it, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.
To plan my trip, I went on the Hall of Fame’s website to get a ticket and was shocked to see that it closes at 5:00 pm. Does that sound like Rock and Roll to you? Closed at 5? If anything, they should open at 5!
I made a joke about this on the phone with my friend as we were discussing the visit. We laughed. I didn’t think anything more of it. Then two days later, he called me back. He said, “when you get off the plane, go get your rental car and head directly to the Hall of Fame.”
I said, “I won’t make it in time.”
He said, “It’ll be closed, but I know a guy.” What? “Yep, I know a guy who can get us in.”
Needless to say, I was stunned. But three days later, I did exactly as I was told. I got off the plane, walked to my rental car, drove to the Hall of Fame, and found my friend and his “guy” waiting for me. Sure enough, he got me in.
In chapter 14 of John’s gospel, he tells us about something rather shocking Jesus says. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” It was as outrageous of a claim then as it is now. People stumbled all over his words of declaring he was the only way to the presence of God, or as we would call it, heaven. And people are equally stumped by it today.
We are good with Him being the truth. No one doubts the words of Jesus are brilliant. And most are alright with His comment of being life. If nothing else, He makes life better. But claiming to be the exclusive way to God is confusing at best. To people wondering about all the other world religions and the spirituality of countless people around the globe, it is offensive.
Is Jesus really saying he’s the ONLY way anyone can get to heaven?
What about our friends who have grown up Jewish and trust in the truth of Father Abraham?
What about those who were raised Muslim and are leaning on the words of Muhammad?
How about the countless millions who claim to not be religious but are simply spiritual?
Are you saying they aren’t getting in?
Let’s go back to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. What if I had walked up to that massive building and found the guy holding the door open, waiting for me, and said, “Thanks, but I’m going to try another door. Surely there’s another way in.” He would look at me and think, “you’re crazy,” then he’d say, “This is it. I’m the only one coming for you.”
John’s comments about Jesus are not an effort to defame or degrade other faith traditions but rather a harsh reality. “He is the way, the truth and the life.” It’s not that Jesus is better than the rest. He is the only way.
John knew his friend had done the one thing no other religion or god or philosophy had provided. A way. A way for him to get to God… and for God to get to him.
My friend Ed discovered this. After rejecting the faith of his childhood, he plunged headlong into Eastern religion. For years he practiced transcendental meditation and other methods to escape life and connect with something higher. In his mind, all roads lead to enlightenment. But all the work was on him. He was exhausted.
Then Ed met Jesus. As we stood in the lobby of the church, he was ambushed by the grace of the God who came for him. Suddenly it all made sense. Everything he’d been practicing and trying was an attempt to get to God, but now he realized God had come to him.
He began to see himself as the one who now had a way to God.
Jesus, thank you for coming for me. Thank you for being the way to God.