In John 14:6, Jesus says to his disciples, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” It sounds pretty strait forward and yet because it is often reduced to a sound-bite-turned-into-proof-text-propositional-claim, there is something we are missing.
To begin with, Jesus says “I am the way…truth…life.” In other words, the way, truth, and life is a person and the person is Jesus. Jesus is the way, truth, and life. This has profound implications, for all of our creeds, confessions, statements of faith, etc… must never be substituted as the way, truth, and life. Further more, Jesus’ claim to be the way, truth, and life is a triune claim. The three aspects of this claim come as one claim and we cannot truly accept any one aspect of this claim apart from the others. But by truly believing that Jesus is the way, truth, and life, we see him as the embodiment of all that is true and the way he lived his life as the true way of life and thereby participate in the life that he is.
From this perspective, Jesus’ claim appears to be very functional. This seems even more clear when we realize this claim comes in the midst of Jesus’ final conversation with his disciples before his death, in which he is preparing them to carry on his mission after his departure. Jesus begins this conversation by washing the feet of his disciples as a demonstration of the mission he has prepared them for (Jn 13:1-16). Then shortly after making this claim, Jesus says to his disciples, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these…” (Jn 14:12).
I have often confused Jesus and scripture, seeing the later as the the way, truth, and life when in fact it is only a witness to this. In doing so, I am struck by the ways I have used my interpretation of scripture as a box to contain Jesus and make him into a safe and palatable way, truth, and life.
I don’t think I am alone. In fact, I know I am not alone. Other Christians have done the same or similar thing with Christian tradition. While others have turned Jesus’ claim in John 14: 6 into a proposition, making the proposition to be the way, truth, and life.
The more we do this, the more Jesus seems to become a distant figure within history to make a statue out of rather than the Living God we follow.
And the greater things… As they say on television, “Stay tuned!”