What I like about Jesus’ disciples is their ordinariness – they were just plain people trying to find their way in life, just like the rest of us. And just like the rest of us that way wasn’t clear. The modern age isn’t the only one where people are pulled this way and that with their own desires, the trends of the day, the demands of family. We all need direction and, whether consciously or not, we are all seeking direction. You just have to turn on a TV at any time of day to hear of people for whom ‘this is all there is in life for me’ – whether that be a job singing, a large amount of cash or some other visible sign of success by the world’s standards. And yet, as we know, that dream career in the pop industry or that multi million pound lottery win doesn’t bring peace or satisfaction – it doesn’t show us the way.
I think that in our determination to fully preach the Gospel we often rush past important points to get to the key point: that life is found in Christ alone. Billy Strachan once said that in evangelism you’ve got to get folks lost before you can get them found. What he meant was that until someone sees their current position as lost, with no direction, no understanding of where to go for help – until someone gets to that point they will never look for help and salvation.
As Christians we are responsible for preaching all that God gave us in the context that God gave it to us. As Jesus was anticipating his physical departure from this world he looked at his ‘motley crew’ and addressed their immediate needs:
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
Jesus knew that his disciples had no real idea of the life that they needed – they just needed to know where to look to, who to look to in order to find direction for their lives. They first needed to understand that Jesus was, is the way – our only direction for our lives, our only goal worth pursuing, our only path through a broken world full of broken promises and empty offers. Jesus isn’t ‘a way’, he is ‘the way’ – there are no other options!
As Christians we can often forget this. The world crowds around us, work, family, culture impose demands and values that aren’t good for us; we naturally buy in to those values. We need to remind ourselves first and foremost that Jesus is the way. Only in following him wholly, singlemindedly can we begin to live aright. If you’ve lost your way in life, if you can’t see the wood for the trees or the end from the beginning, go back to the one who is the way. Start out by admitting that he is the only way, the only path through life; make him your goal, your direction, your course of action and take the first step.
Once we get that right we will come to see that Jesus is the truth – he will open our eyes and enable us to see the reality of this world and the next. Once we set out on Jesus as the way, we will be confirmed in that path by the truth of Jesus.
But more than that, Jesus is the life, not ‘a life’, but ‘the life’! He only can bring life to the dying soul, he only can save us from our own sinful, selfish, chasing our tails until we die forever lives. Jesus said ‘I am the resurrection and the life’ – resurrection comes from the Greek word anastasia, which in turn comes from the word to stand (stasia) and the prefix for ‘again’ (ana) – so the resurrection is to stand again. but the ‘ana’ prefix in other contexts also has the idea of ‘from above’, for example when Jesus says you must be born again the same prefix is used, and we readily agree that born again also means to be born from above. So, resurrection, the life that Jesus gives is to stand again, to stand from above – a different kind of standing, a different quality of life. (Dr. Ralph Martin blessed me with the beginning of this insight after a sermon in Grace Baptist Church several years ago.)
Jesus said ‘if you have seen me you have seen the Father’ – he is the God come to mankind, not to show us the way as some sort of prophet or holy man, but to be the way. Have you lost your way? Do you even realise that your life has lost direction? Are you at your wit’s end? Whatever your situation, start back by acknowledging that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Seek him and you will stand again; you will stand above as you entrust and commit your life to him.