“I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me…”
Jesus’ final night begins with washing his disciples’ feet (ch 13), a symbolic action of Jesus’ life purpose: to reveal God’s nature as a being of self-giving love and to become a servant and die for the sins of the world. This points to his command for his disciples to go and do likewise, “love one another as I have loved you” (13:34). His symbolic action is followed by his last words as he tries to prepare them for his coming death. These final words end with the prayer in ch 17.
Can you imagine? You left everything to follow Jesus so that you can help him overthrow Rome and to establish the throne for him. You’re a few years into your time with him and he starts comforting you because he’s going to go get himself killed. You’ve dedicated your life to his mission and now he’s leaving you?! Sometimes, it is easy to think that following Jesus would be easier if we were with him, could see and hear him.
Jesus promises them the Holy Spirit. He even goes as far to say, “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate [Spirit] will not come to you…” (16:7). This whole section (ch 13-17) is about comforting the disciples because Jesus is leaving. The Holy Spirit is promised. Jesus says, “I AM the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” in response to Thomas’ question about where Jesus is going.
When Jesus says he is the way, we quickly jump to atonement theology and that his death on the cross is what saves us. While this is true, if we only focus on that we will miss the bigger picture of what John is communicating through Jesus’ message. “My Father’s house has many rooms…” (14:2). When Jesus clears the Temple in John 2:13-25, he refers to the Temple as his “Father’s house.” The Temple is the place where heaven and earth come together, where God’s presence is manifested here on earth. It is a glimpse of what God intended creation to be, where his presence was the reality of life. John’s places the story of Jesus clearing the Temple at the beginning of his gospel account so that everything you see Jesus do afterwards is seen through that event. So, how does Jesus cleaning up his “Father’s House” open up how you read John 14:1-31.
Jesus prepares a place where the Temple reality of the presence of God will always be the reality. There’s plenty of room in the presences of God! He has to go prepare this place to bring down to us with his return but till that time, what will he send as a comfort to us? The presence of God in the Holy Spirit! A life led by the Spirit is a life of love following the Way, the Truth, and the Life. What are you doing right now to allow the Holy Spirit to take up residence in you and guide each step you take so that you naturally follow the Way, that you easily sort out the Truth from truth the world offers, and you recognize what has Life in it and you call it forward like Jesus calling Lazarus?
With Jesus’ words in 2:19, “Destroy this Temple, and I will raise it again in three days” read John 13-17 and listen for what God might be telling you.