I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life
BIBL 323 I AM Paper
Robert C. Stilwell, Jr. 5/2/2009

A brief discussion of Jesus¶ statement, ³I am the way, the truth, and the life´ (John 14:6) as well as how it demonstrates His deity and its relationship to the Old Testament revelation of God.

³I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life´ Twenty-three times in the Gospel of John Jesus uses the phrase ³I Am´ to identify Himself as God and Messiah. In seven of these instances, Christ joins His ³I Am´ with tremendous metaphors which are expressive of His saving relationship toward the world.1 These statements are also relational to the revelation of God in the Old Testament. This study focuses on the sixth of these seven emphatic statements, in which Jesus declares that the only way to God the Father is through Him, God the Son. I. The Scene Jesus, knowing that His crucifixion was only a day away, completely withdraws from His public ministry and devotes Himself to His disciples. On the night of His betrayal, Christ delivers a farewell discourse in which He prepares His disciples for His eminent death, resurrection and departure from them, His exaltation to heaven. After hearing Christ speak of His leaving them and of Peter¶s coming denial, the disciples are discouraged and their faith somewhat shaken. Instead of the disciples lending support to Jesus in the hours before His cross, He has to support them spiritually as well as emotionally. This reveals His heart of serving love. The world of the disciples is about to be shattered; they will be bewildered, confused and ridden with anxiety because of the events that will soon transpire. Anticipating their devastation, Jesus speaks to comfort their hearts.2 ³Let not your hearts be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father¶s house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know´ (John

1 2

John MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2005), 1591 Ibid., 1403

14:1-4). This passage describes the rapture of the saints, Christ¶s coming to gather His sheep who are alive and raise the bodies of those believers who have died and take them all to heaven, His ³Father¶s house.´ The disciples, still thinking in physical terms, not spiritual, cannot comprehend the true meaning of Jesus¶ words. Thomas asks, ³Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way´ (John 14:5)? Jesus responds with one of the most controversial statements in history: ³I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me´ (John 14:6). The controversy surrounding this statement centers on the exclusivity of Jesus as the only approach to God. There is only one way, not many, as the world today teaches, to reach God. Jesus¶ way of salvation is God-centered, and the way of salvation in world religions and nonChristian sects is man-centered. Jesus¶ way of salvation is about what God has done to save humanity. World religions and non-Christian sects¶ way of salvation is about what humanity can do to save itself.3 Jesus declared that He is the way to God because He is the truth of God (John 1:14) and the life of God (John 1:4; 3:15-16; 11:25).4 Jesus identifies Himself with both the truth and life, which are divine attributes. Since Christ is the source of life and truth, He must also be the way to God Himself.5 II. ³I Am The Way«´ When sin entered the world through Adam, both he and Eve died spiritually and fell from their relationship with God. Subsequently, so did all of their descendents. Every human being is born spiritually dead and separated from God (Psalm 51:5; Eph. 2:1-5). Jesus came on a rescue mission to infuse His life into spiritually dead people (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2:1-5; Col. 1:27). There is

Derwin L. Gray, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics, Edited by Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner, (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2008), 124 4 MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary, 1403 5 Elmer L. Towns, The Gospel of John: Believe and Live (Chattanooga, TN: AMG, 2002), 141


only one way for humanity to recover from the Fall; that exclusive way is Jesus Christ, the Godman. He is 100 percent God and 100 percent man. As a man, Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life fulfilling God¶s law on behalf of all humanity (Matt. 5:17). He died a brutal death satisfying God¶s righteous anger against the sins of the world (1 John 2:2). And then to the applause of heaven and the disappointment of hell, he miraculously rose from the dead to proclaim His deity, to defeat Satan and death and to freely provide man with resurrection life making it possible for man to unite once again with God (John 11:25; Rom. 6:4-5; Col. 2:13-15).6 Jesus is the mediator between God and man. Because He is fully man, He represents humanity before God (Rom. 5:12-21; Heb. 4:15-16). Because He is fully God, only His perfect, sinless life, offered as a sacrifice, is worthy to reconcile man to God (John 1:29).7 ³For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time«´ (1 Tim. 2:5-6). Scripture teaches that God¶s ways are perfect (2 Sam. 22:31), and that the ways of man lead to death (Prov. 14:12). Christ parallels these teachings in that He led a perfect, sinless life, and His way is the perfect and only way to the Father. Man¶s ways of trying to reach God by works are doomed to failure and death. III. ³I Am«The Truth´ God is a God of truth (Deut. 32:4). He cannot lie (Titus 1:2). God Himself testifies to the identity of Jesus as God and Messiah. ³He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony of God has given of His Son´ (1 John 5:10). If someone refuses the testimony of God regarding His Son, such rejection is the ultimate form of blasphemy for it is tantamount to

6 7

Gray, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics, 124 Ibid., 125

calling God a liar.8 ³But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King.´ (Jer. 10:10). ³And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life´ (1 John 5:20). To know Christ is to know God. Only the truth of the deity of Jesus Christ can lead to a true knowledge of God the Father. The following verse in this passage declares Jesus¶ deity and equality in nature with God the Father: ³If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him´ (John 14:7). In this verse, Jesus is making clear to His disciples that to know Him is to know God. This constant emphasis on Jesus as God incarnate is unmistakably clear in this gospel (John 1:1-3, 14, 17, 18; 5:10-23; 8:58; 9:35; 10:30, 38; 12:41; 17;1-5; 20:28).9 Jesus is the truth, not one among many. In this day of post-modernism, our culture tends to deny that there is any absolute truth. Yet, in making this claim, one is making as absolute truth claim. As a result of Christ being the truth, we can know the truth about God by knowing Him.10 Many in today¶s culture also claim that all religions are the same. However, the law of noncontradiction states that two opposites cannot be true at the same time. Therefore due to the vast differences in beliefs, all religions cannot be the same, and all religions cannot lead to God. IV. ³I Am«The Life´ Jesus is the life. He is the source of natural life, the Creator of all things (Prov. 16:4; Is. 40:28; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2). ³And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being´ (Gen. 2:7). ³All

MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary, 1969 Ibid., 1404 10 Gray, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics, 125


things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men´ (John 1:3-4). Christ is the source of spiritual life. ³I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me´ (Gal. 2:20). When a person trusts in Christ for salvation, he spiritually participates with the Lord in His crucifixion and His victory over sin and death. The believer¶s old self is dead, having been crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:3, 5). The believer¶s new man has the privilege of the indwelling Christ empowering him and living through him.11 ³But God «even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ«´ (Eph. 2:4-5). Far more than anything else, a spiritually dead person needs to be made alive by God. Salvation, through Jesus Christ, brings spiritual life to the dead.12 Jesus is the source of eternal life. ³For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life´ (John 3:16). Everlasting, or eternal, life refers not only to eternal quantity but divine quality of life. It refers to resurrection and heavenly existence in perfect glory and holiness. This life for believers in the Lord Jesus is experienced before heaven is reached. This ³eternal life´ is in essence nothing less than participation in the eternal life of the Living Word, Jesus Christ. It is the life of God in every believer, yet not fully manifest until the resurrection.13



MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary, 1664 Ibid., 1686 13 Ibid., 1359

Gray, Derwin L. The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics. Edited by Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner. Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2008. MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Bible Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2005. ². The MacArthur Study Bible. Nashville, TN: Word, 1997. Towns, Elmer. The Gospel of John: Believe and Live. Chattanooga, TN: AMG, 2002.