Yeshua (Jesus) was once asked by Thomas, one of his Jewish disciples for an explanation of his saying “I am going to prepare a place for you. And you know the way I am going” (see the Gospel of John 14:5-6).
So then Thomas said: “Lord, how do we know the way?”
This was a thoroughly legitimate question for a disciple to ask his rabbi (teacher). He wanted to follow Jesus wherever he was going. That was the seriously magnetic personality of Jesus. And Thomas had a desperate need which Jesus met.
But it is important, as always, to thoroughly examine the context of this saying which is often used by ardent evangelicals to stop all arguments, to cut off all possible means of intellectual escape for the ones they are trying to convince.
Now Yeshua answered Thomas by saying these astonishing words:
“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except by me!”
He tells all his followers that I AM the way, not I am one of the ways which his disciples, his committed followers, will come to the Father. He, himself, his actual person, knowing him, is the only way for them if they want to go where he will go, that is, the way for them to come to the Father. And it is the same for each of his followers, Jew or non-Jew. And today.
This is not about Thomas going to heaven when he dies. This is about access to the living God! Period.
Note, we will not see him repeating to everyone he meets the same words which he used in this context. Actually, he never uses slogans, seldom repeats metaphors, but each occasion is landscaped with fresh sayings. So here we have one of the hundreds of superb examples in the New Testament documents of Jesus’ dependence on the Holy Spirit, on only saying what the Father says, hence the amazing diversity. He is the living word! This also points to the authenticity of these documents. Marvellous.
Thomas by this time had been following Yeshua for many days and along with the others had been drawn further and further into the essential meaning of this person, his identity, his I-AMness, even to saying to the others who were afraid of the religious leaders, “Come on let’s go and die with him” (see John 11:16).
Jesus had a spirituality which was built-in, inherent, authentic. He was it! the way! The Kingdom of God was totally incorporated into his person.
So, when speaking to others of Jesus, let us be inspired by the Holy Spirit instead of trotting out the same old, well-worn texts which will stop communication dead. Let’s tell stories of Jesus and his love, his acts of mercy to people in need, hungry, thirsty, with ears to hear –everywhere and always.