John 14:1-14 Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."
Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, `Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it."
Reflection “I am the way and the truth and the life…” With his I am statements Jesus is saying to the disoriented community of late first century religious Jews - Believing me does not require that you dissociate yourselves from God of our ancestors. Believing me does not require that you turn away from the Great I Am as revealed to Moses and the prophets. Believing me is contiguous with believing the God of our Fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Don’t you see, in God the Father’s house of creation there are many places in which to live. There are many ways to be in relationship with I Am, God, first person present here and now.
Jesus’ I am statements were given to people who were steeped in the Jewish religious tradition, who understood the Torah, and who hopefully would make the connection between the God whom Moses encountered on Mt. Horeb from where he was sent to “say to the Israelites, “I am has sent me to you.’” (Ex 3.14) and God as revealed more fully in the person of Jesus.
Jesus is the way of inclusive participation in the mystery of God, I Am, first person present. Jesus is the way first century Jewish Jesus followers could continue to connect with the mystery of the God of Israel. Their experience of Jesus as the way they could encounter God of their ancestors was never intended to be an exclusionary claim that Jesus is the only way for anyone to experience the God of Abraham, Isaac or Jacob. In the Gospel according to John, Jesus is speaking to a particular people in a particular time about being in relationship with God who is always first person present.
I believe Jesus’ words to the late first century Jews, “I am the way, the truth and the life,” were intended to bridge the chasm between God of history and God first person present. Never were they meant to be an exclusionary claim to an exclusionary God. I believe we would do well to recall Peter’s counsel in the Acts of the Apostles, ”Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10.34)
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