“I know where I came from and where I am going,” Jesus challenges His antagonists; although an enigma to the religious ruling class of His day, Jesus is completely conscious of His role as the peoples’ way back to God. He speaks of His origins (“where I came from”) and His objectives (“where I am going”) with the composure of one who is singularly omniscient (all knowing) and resolute in His role. Unswerving faithfulness to His relationship with His heavenly Father informs His eternal purpose to be the redeeming exchange for the consequences of humankind’s sin.
With these words He claims identity as the One who alone can re-open the pathway of relationship between God and created persons. “I am the way,” Jesus later explains to His closest followers. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
It’s quite a claim Jesus makes about Himself. He does not say, “I am one of a variety of ways back to the Father.” Some would rather He said that. Then we could design our spirituality with a more eclectic flavour. We could have a little ‘mindfulness (spiritual-but-not-religious)’ here, a little ‘diversity-tolerance’ there, and add Jesus into the mix to fit our personal whims. But Jesus Himself doesn’t give us that option. He claims the exclusive right to meet all people’s total and complete spiritual needs. Period.
Just what is our best response to Jesus’ outrageous claim to be the only way to the Father? First, we need to rout out that niggling part of us that is irked, irritated and rankled with Jesus’ claim. We need to give it the name Malignant Pride, and release it to Jesus. He will dispose of it for us. “As far as the east is from the west,” says the psalmist, “so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103).
In its place we must accept humility, awe, thankfulness, peace, and a new insight into following Jesus’ Way. We will, in effect, be set back on the path we were created to follow when earth was young and life was a garden of possibilities.
But earth and its inhabitants have suffered an illness. Those that have submitted to the surgery to have the malignancy removed are in convalescence. Like John Bunyan’s character ‘Christian’ in his classic allegory ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, there are still challenges along the path of our journey. There is the potential failure to daily treasure God’s Word, leaving it at the wayside and becoming entangled in bypass routes. There is the tendency to take shortcuts that land us in the ‘slough of despond’ or in the giant ‘Despair’s’ castle of bondage. There is the temptation to turn back from the Heaven-focused journey in fear of the lion’s threats, or to give in to the suggestions of ‘Mistrust’ and ‘Timorous’.
We must cooperate with Jesus as He places us on the high but narrow road to Life; we must follow His every word of guidance and refuse to invite malignant pride back into our hearts.
Our best course is to remain close to Jesus, the One who personifies the “Way of Holiness” (Isaiah 35:8), who alone is qualified to “lead (us) in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:24)—to an eternity of purpose and God-centered living. And like the best of adventures, not only is the final destination important, but so is the route itself; Jesus’ way bring travelers satisfaction and joy because Jesus journeys alongside us. He is our closest companion. So think again about Jesus’ claim to be the Way. It’s the best news we’ve had in a long, long time.