“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” – John 14:1-9
In the previous chapter, the Apostle John records that Jesus “loved [the disciples] to the end” (John 13:1), how he washed their feet during the last Supper (verses 3-17) and how Judas went out into the night to go to the High Priest to betray Jesus (verse 30). What followed were the last exhortations that Jesus gave to his disciples, knowing that he only had little time left with them before he would be arrested and ultimately crucified.
Even though he was facing the most excruciating death, Jesus was the one who comforted his disciples and strengthened their faith one more time. He reminded them of what they had heard him teach, yet we also see two disciples who still seemed confused about what Jesus said.
We can assume that all the other disciples had similar questions in their mind, but we can be grateful that Thomas and Philip actually asked Jesus what he meant. Thanks to their questions, we have the recording of Jesus’ beautiful response in verse 6 where he says, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” And also in verse 9 where Jesu says: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”
During this season of Lent, we can reflect on the path of the cross that Jesus took, and we have to ask ourselves why he did it. Why did the Lord have to suffer like this? And what does it mean for me? And what does it mean when Jesus says that he is the only way to the Father and that in him, we have seen the Father?
Among the most famous verses in the Bible is John 3:16 where it says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” And in John 17:3 – part of Jesus’ final prayer for his disciples – he says, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
Through Jesus Christ, God opened a way for us to know Him, to return to Him and receive eternal life by faith. First of all, in everything that Jesus said and did, we can see who God is and what He is like – this is what it means when John says that the Word became flesh (John 1:14). Yet, in order to completely take away our sin, the arrogance, disobedience, jealousy and envy, and all the other sins that grew out of those, he took the punishment onto himself, so that we could be set free.
According to the law that God gave to Moses, being hung on a cross is a curse from God (Deuteronomy 21:23). Yet the reason why Jesus suffered is not because of his own sin but because he took our sin – and the curse that this sin brings – unto himself. As the Apostle Paul explains in Galatians 3:13: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us […].”
The sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross was on behalf of you and me, to take away our sins and to suffer on our behalf the punishment that we deserved. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) This is exactly what Jesus did because of his love for us.
There is no other way to understand God’s heart than through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; there is no other truth that will set us free; and there is no life in eternity apart from Jesus Christ, because he has laid down his life to give new life to us.
May we reflect deeply on Jesus’ words and spend the time leading up to Easter reflecting on his love and his sacrifice for us.