The Way and The Truth and The Life

Robert J Smith  •  Sermon  •  
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The Way and The Truth and The Life
John 14:1-14
 
14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”
 
troubled - 5429 ταράσσω (tarassō): vb.; ≡ Str 5015—*1.* LN 16.3 stir up (Jn 5:7+; Jn 5:4 v.r.); 2. LN 25.244 cause great distress, trouble, disturb (Mt 2:3; Jn 14:1); 3. LN 39.44 cause a riot, throw into confusion (Ac 17:8+)[1]
 
Believe - 4409 πιστεύω (pisteuō): vb.; ≡ DBLHebr 586; Str 4100; TDNT 6.174—*1.* LN 31.35 think to be true, to believe, implying trust (Mt 24:23; Lk 1:20; 1Co 11:18; Jas 2:19; Mk 16:13, 14 v.r.); 2. LN 31.85 trust, faith, believe to the extent of complete trust (Mt 18:6; Ro 4:3; 1Pe 2:6; Mk 16:17 v.r.); 3. LN 31.102 have Christian faith, become a believer the Gospel (Ac 4:32; Ro 1:16; Mk 16:16 v.r.); 4. LN 35.50 entrust, put something into the care of another (Ro 3:2; Gal 2:7; 1Th 2:4; 1Ti 1:11; Tit 1:3)[2]
 
In a very short time life for the disciples was going to fall in. Their world was going to collapse in chaos around them. At such a time there was only one thing to do—stubbornly to hold on to trust in God. As the Psalmist had had it: “I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13). “But my eyes are toward thee, O Lord God; in thee I seek refuge” (Psalm 141:8). There comes a time when we have to believe where we cannot prove and to accept where we cannot understand. If, in the darkest hour, we believe that somehow there is a purpose in life and that that purpose is love, even the unbearable becomes bearable and even in the darkness there is a glimmer of light.
Jesus adds something to that. He says not only: “Believe in God.” He says also: “Believe in me.” If the Psalmist could believe in the ultimate goodness of God, how much can we. For Jesus is the proof that God is willing to give us everything he has to give. As Paul put it: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?” (Romans 8:32). If we believe that in Jesus we see the picture of God, then, in face of that amazing love, it becomes, not easy, but at least possible, to accept even what we cannot understand, and in the storms of life to retain a faith that is serene.
 
I.     The Consolation He Gives to His Disciples (14:1–4)
A.     “I am going to prepare a place for you” (14:1–2). The picture here is that of a Jewish wedding. After the betrothal, the groom goes away to prepare a place for his bride in his father’s house; literally adding on a room. When the room was ready, he returned for his bride and took her away to the place he had prepared for them.
B.     “When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am” (14:3–4).
II.     The Conversation He Has with His Disciples (14:5–31): Jesus answers three questions asked him by three disciples.
A.     Thomas and Jesus (14:5–7)
1.     Thomas’/s question: /“We haven’t any idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (14:5).
2.     Jesus’/ answer/ (14:6–7)
a.     “I am the way, the truth and the life” (14:6a). I am the way, the truth, and the life (so most translations) is a fairly literal translation of the Greek text. Of the major modern language translations, only GeCL (note German Common Language) has a dynamic equivalent: “I am the way, and I am also the goal, since in me you have the truth and the life.” Even this restructuring is rather ambiguous for the average reader. What is the relation between the words way, truth, and life? In the present context Jesus as “the way” is the primary focus, and “truth” and “life” are somehow related to Jesus as “the way.” Thus there are two possible interpretations: (1) The emphasis may be on the goal to which the way leads. If this exegesis is followed, one may translate “I am the way that leads to the truth and to life”; or, expressed more fully, “I am the way that leads to the truth (about God) and to the life (that God gives).” (2) However, the emphasis may be on the way itself. If this exegesis is followed, “truth” and “life” must be taken as qualifiers of “way,” which is primary in the context. One may then render “I am the true way, the way that gives people life.” Or, more fully, “I am the way that reveals the truth (about God) and gives life (to people).” In effect, the two possible interpretations are close in meaning, and it is difficult to argue for one against the other. However, the context would seem to favor the second.[3] The whole subject of conversation here is Christ as “the way.” See the context. We have here therefore another example of Hendiadiatris: “I am the way, yes—the true and living way; for no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”[4] By Hendiatris, three words are used, but one thing is meant. Two of the words are exalted to the place of emphatic adjectives, which are thus raised to equal importance with the subject itself. Here, the sense is “I am the true and living way.” Of course, Christ is the “truth” as He is also the “life,” but this is not what is stated in this verse. Here, only one subject is in question: “the way”;[5]
I am the way, and the truth, and the life (Ἐγω εἰμι ἡ ὁδος και ἡ ἀληθεια και ἡ ζωη [Egō/ eimi hē hodos kai hē alētheia kai hē zōē/]). Either of these statements is profound enough to stagger any one, but here all three together overwhelm Thomas. Jesus had called himself “the life” to Martha (11:25) and “the door” to the Pharisees (10:7) and “the light of the world” (8:12). He spoke “the way of God in truth” (Mark 12:14). He is the way to God and the only way (verse 6), the personification of truth, the centre of life. Except by me (εἰ μη δἰ ἐμου [ei/ mē di‚ emou/]). There is no use for the Christian to wince at these words of Jesus. If he is really the Incarnate Son of God (1:1, 14, 18, they are necessarily true. [6]
14:6 This lovely verse makes it clear that the Lord Jesus Christ is Himself the way to heaven. He does not merely show the way; He is the way. Salvation is in a Person. Accept that Person as your own, and you have salvation. Christianity is Christ. The Lord Jesus is not just one of many ways. He is the only Way. No one comes to the Father except through Him. The way to God is not by the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, ordinances, church membership—it is through Christ and Christ alone. Today many say that it does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere. They say that all religions have some good in them and that they all lead to heaven at last. But Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Then the Lord is the truth. He is not just One who teaches the truth; He is the truth. He is the embodiment of Truth. Those who have Christ have the Truth. It is not found anywhere else. Christ Jesus is the life. He is the source of life, both spiritual and eternal. Those who receive Him have eternal life because He is the Life. [7]
b.     “No one can come to the Father except through me” (14:6b–7). That the way is in primary focus in this passage is indicated by the words of Jesus in the second half of this verse: no one goes to the Father except by me. That is, the way is in focus, and the Father is the goal to which it leads. God is the source of all truth and life, and Jesus leads people to him.
In the → Orthodox Church the doctrine of God as the basis of Christian faith has two inseparable and complementary aspects: the dogmatic teaching, and the experiencing of it in → liturgy and → mysticism. One could thus say that the whole of Orthodox theology is devoted to the doctrine of God and the relation of God to us and the world.
→ Dogma is what God reveals about himself.[8]
God reveals himself in the cosmos by :
·        His providence.
·        His Grace
·        His Creation
·        As Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit)
·        As Love
 
Yet theology and the cult are oriented more strongly to the divine persons than to the divine nature. Theological access to the doctrine of God is based on the fact that the Son of God, conceived by the Father through the Holy Spirit, incarnate Word and Son of Man, defines himself as “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). The other Advocate, who will always be with us, the → Holy Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father and whom the Father sends in the name of Christ, makes it possible for the church to remember and to understand all the acts and words and instructions of Christ — that is, the real doctrine of God (John 14:16, 26; 15:26). The Spirit works this insight from creation as he is unceasingly poured out upon humanity and the world, and then by his → pentecost in history as the church seeks and secures his outpouring by unbroken → prayer and the → sacraments.[9]
B.     Philip and Jesus (14:8–21)
1.     Philip’/s question/ (14:8) : “Lord, show us the Father and we will be satisfied.”
2.     Jesus’/ answer/ (14:9–21)
a.     He says anyone who has seen him has seen the Father (14:9) .
b.     He says that he is in the Father and that the Father is in him (14:10) .
c.     He says they will do greater things than he has done because he is going to the Father (14:11–14).
 

 
——
vb. verb

Str Strong’s Lexicon

LN Louw-Nida/ Greek-English Lexicon/

+ More references in GNT4

v.r. varia/ lectio/, variant reading in a manuscript

[1]Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Greek (New Testament) (electronic ed.) (GGK5429). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

vb. verb

DBLHebr Swanson, A Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains: Hebrew (Old Testament)

Str Strong’s Lexicon

TDNT Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament

LN Louw-Nida/ Greek-English Lexicon/

v.r. varia/ lectio/, variant reading in a manuscript

[2]Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Greek (New Testament) (electronic ed.) (GGK4409). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

GeCL German Common language translation

[3]Newman, B. M., & Nida, E. A. (1993], c1980). A handbook on the Gospel of John. Originally published: A translator’s handbook on the Gospel of John, c1980. Helps for translators; UBS handbook series (457). New York: United Bible Societies.

[4]Bullinger, E. W. (1898). Figures of speech used in the Bible (673). London; New York: Eyre & Spottiswoode; E. & J. B. Young & Co.

[5]Smith, J. H. (1992; Published in electronic form, 1996). The new treasury of scripture knowledge : The most complete listing of cross references available anywhere- every verse, every theme, every important word (1215). Nashville TN: Thomas Nelson.

[6]Robertson, A. (1997). Word Pictures in the New Testament. Vol.V c1932, Vol.VI c1933 by Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. (Jn 14:6). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems.

[7]MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. (1997, c1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments (Jn 14:6). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[8]Fahlbusch, E., & Bromiley, G. W. (1999-<2003). The encyclopedia of Christianity (2:431). Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leiden, Netherlands: Wm. B. Eerdmans; Brill “The Encyclopedia of Christianity is the first of a five-volume English translation of the third revised edition of Evangelisches Kirchenlexikon. Its German articles have been tailored to suit an English readership, and articles of special interest to English readers have been added. The encyclopedia describes Christianity through its 2000-year history within a global context, taking into account other religions and philosophies. A special feature is the statistical information dispersed throughout the articles on the continents and over 170 countries. Social and cultural coverage is given to such issues as racism, genocide, and armaments, while historical content shows the development of biblical and apostolic traditions. This comprehensive work, while scholarly, is intended for a wide audience and will set the standard for reference works on Christianity.”—“Outstanding reference sources 2000”, American Libraries, May 2000. Comp. by the Reference Sources Committee, RUSA, ALA.

[9]Fahlbusch, E., & Bromiley, G. W. (1999-<2003). The encyclopedia of Christianity (2:431). Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leiden, Netherlands: Wm. B. Eerdmans; Brill “The Encyclopedia of Christianity is the first of a five-volume English translation of the third revised edition of Evangelisches Kirchenlexikon. Its German articles have been tailored to suit an English readership, and articles of special interest to English readers have been added. The encyclopedia describes Christianity through its 2000-year history within a global context, taking into account other religions and philosophies. A special feature is the statistical information dispersed throughout the articles on the continents and over 170 countries. Social and cultural coverage is given to such issues as racism, genocide, and armaments, while historical content shows the development of biblical and apostolic traditions. This comprehensive work, while scholarly, is intended for a wide audience and will set the standard for reference works on Christianity.”—“Outstanding reference sources 2000”, American Libraries, May 2000. Comp. by the Reference Sources Committee, RUSA, ALA.