“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
What a thing to say, and what a time to say it. It is the Last Supper, and the cross is near at hand. Jesus predicts His betrayal, and Judas disappears into the darkness. Peter declares that he will never abandon the Savior; Jesus replies that Peter will deny Him three times before the night is over. Betrayal. Denial. Death. Things are going to crash down soon.
And if Jesus is put to death, where will the disciples go? These are men who care enough about spiritual matters to abandon all and follow Him; but if He is dead, what is left? They could turn to the Pharisees, who preach salvation by way of behavior – that you can be saved by keeping their rules. But Jesus Himself called them “whitewashed tombs”; that is, they look very good and pious on the outside, but inside they are dead in hypocrisy and sin. There’s no salvation there. They could check out the Greeks; in the tradition of Aristotle and Plato, the Greeks still place a high regard on knowledge and truth, and they’ve done so much with philosophy and their study of man, why he is the way he is, and how the world should be. But despite all the knowledge, the world still isn’t that way. No salvation there, either. Then again, there are tons of heathen religions around, pointing to their oracles as ways that people can get in touch with a god and achieve real life; but everyone’s experience is so different that none of it really makes sense in the end. And, in the end, there is no hope.
For you and I, there is indeed hope. Our hope lies not in this world, but it lies in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and what He has done for us. Jesus tells the disciples, “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? 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.”
Our hope lies in the promises that God has made to us through His Son Jesus Christ. Instead of reasons for despair, the disciples realize the good news that the cross of Jesus Christ overcomes troubled hearts with the promises, assurances, and benefits of our great God.
Christ has overcome troubled hearts by commanding faith in His great promises established by the cross. It was through the cross that all the promises God made came to fruition. It was through the cross that the promise of salvation was fulfilled. It was through the cross that you and I received life. Troubled hearts are no match for the Word of Jesus. The disciples, on the night before Jesus was betrayed, had troubled hearts. You and I will have troubled hearts at some point in our lives. Jesus commands faith, not once but twice. He says, “Believe in God; believe also in me.” It is belief in God that brings about faith. It is belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and His redemptive work that brings salvation, for salvation cannot be found in anything other than Jesus and His salvific work for us.
There is no need for troubled hearts, as they are overcome by the Lord’s amazing promise of what God has in store for us. We look at this world and we see how much it has suffered because of sin. We have wars. We have disease. We have death. We all have seen the effects of sin on this world and we ask ourselves, “Is this it? Is there more to this thing called life?” And the answer is no, this isn’t it. There is more to this thing called life, or at least life as we know it. There is salvation. There is forgiveness. There is everlasting life. No matter how good or how bad your life may be on this earth, there is more waiting for you. There is a room in heaven that your Savior has prepared for you. If that isn’t good enough, Jesus also tells us, “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.” Jesus will personally take us to our eternal rooms, rooms prepared by Jesus when He said from the cross, “It is finished” because there at the cross, Jesus paid for your sin, giving to you that key to your room in heaven.
Then Jesus speaks the all-familiar words to Thomas and the other disciples. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” If you want words of assurance and comfort, then these are the words for you. Jesus comforts the disciples with what they had previously learned and experienced. With these words, He reminds us that He is the world’s one Lord and Savior.
These words, Jesus also speaks to you. He spoke these words to you on the cross. He spoke these words to you at your baptism. He speaks these words to you this morning. He speaks these words when you feast upon His body and blood. He speaks these words to you each and every day of your life, and He will speak these words to you as you draw your final breath.
Christ is the one and only source of blessed existence and life for us. In our sin is death, the separation from God. Left to ourselves, we should remain in this separation forever, dead beyond hope. In the person of Jesus, God sent us “the life.” Take away Jesus, and the way, truth, and the life are gone. All hope of God and heaven outside of Jesus is vanity and worse. “Except through me” is absolute and final. Despair would be the order of the day for this world, except for this wonderful news that our Lord declares. Despite the sin and evil of the world, there is a Way. The way is not what we would expect. The way is not a route or a set of directions. Instead, it is a person – Jesus Himself. We cannot travel this route. Instead Jesus must take us. In fact, that is exactly what He promised when He said, “I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
Through the blood that flowed from His body on the cross, Jesus is the way. Through the Scriptures which testify He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world, Jesus is the truth. Through His taking our sin and our curse upon Himself, Jesus is the life. What comfort this is to our troubled hearts! In the name of Jesus, amen. Now the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.