During the Passover service, we always read John 14 in its entirety. It is chock-full of insight and instruction that we, as Christ's disciples, need to live fully as Christians and to prepare for eternal life in the Kingdom of God. Jesus opens the chapter by saying:
Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know. (John 14:1-4)
He sets the goal before us, eternal life in God's house. He says that He will soon be going to that same goal, where He will be in a better position to prepare us to reach it. Then He says, "You know the way there," which has Thomas scratching his head. "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?" (verse 5). In other words, if we do not have a clear idea of the goal, how can we find our way there? It is impossible. A person must have a destination in mind before he can map out the route.
In verse 6, Jesus provides the answer: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." Jesus' emphasis is on "the way," since that is the force of Thomas' question. Some commentators have even gone so far as to say that the real sense of His statement is, "I am the true and living way"—that is, the words "life" and "truth" modify "way."
He implies that the Father will only accept as His children those who imitate the character and process of salvation that Christ pioneered. He is called the Captain or Author of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10). Jesus has blazed the trail before us, showing us the way to go—and the way to go is to follow in His footsteps, to imitate Him (I John 2:6). There is only one road that leads to the Kingdom of God, the road that Christ Himself trod. He expands this idea in John 14:7-11:
"If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him." Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father, so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves."
This paragraph adds another level to why God will only accept us through Christ—because Jesus was and is just like the Father. A son, if he is a true son, will show the characteristics of his father, which is exactly what we see in Jesus Christ and the Father in heaven. Christ thinks like the Father, speaks like the Father, and acts like the Father. Everything the Father would do is what Christ does. Therefore, if we want to be members of this Family, we, as Christ's brothers and sisters, will have to think, say, and do the same sorts of things as the Father and the Son.
This is why we must go through Christ. There is no other way! The children must have the same character as the Father and the Son, or there is no admittance. Thus, we must imitate Christ if we desire to enter God's Kingdom. He is the way, the method, or the process by which eternal salvation is secured, and if we should try to achieve it any other way, we will fail.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Moses asked to see the visible glory of God, and He proclaimed His name verbally. Jesus is saying, "If you want to see the mind and nature of God, if you want to see His attitudes, look at Me." God reveals Himself and declares His glory to us through the life, works, and words of Jesus of Nazareth as He opens our minds by His Holy Spirit.
Jesus is "the way" because of all mankind, only He, unmarred by sin, has intimate knowledge of God. Knowing God depends on our knowledge of the truth about Jesus. He shows the way we must walk, the direction and manner of living and relating to others. This is precisely the knowledge Jesus gives. Many times when we ask directions in a strange city, the response confuses us because we are unfamiliar with the town. But when we ask directions of Jesus, He says, "Come, follow Me, and I will take you there."
Some people may teach truth, but He embodies truth; He is "the truth." A man may teach geometry, and his character may not affect his teaching. But if one teaches moral truth, character is paramount. Keeping the third commandment properly revolves around knowing the truth about God and His way.
Colossians 1:15; 2:9 are among the strongest statements in the Bible about the divine nature of Jesus: "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. . . . For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." He not only is equal to and reflects God, but He also reveals God to us because He is God. He is completely holy and has authority to judge the world.
We can have no clearer view of God than by looking at Christ. He is the full revelation of God to man. He is the complete expression of God in a human body. He is unique: God became a man, imposing upon Himself the same time-space limitations as other men.
He had every opportunity to waste time, get sick, eat gluttonously and become overweight, drink and experience a hangover, "fly off the handle" in anger, or attack others when someone pricked His vanity. He could have become bitter from rejection or depressed when things did not go His way. He could have worked or played with intense competitiveness to "win at all costs." He had to face death, His own as well as of loved ones. He could have felt "the deck was stacked" against Him.
The gospels show God coping with life on the same terms as men. Now we can really see what kind of character God possesses. Jesus' life gives us firsthand knowledge of what the true way of life is, allowing us to cooperate with Him in His purpose. Among many other things, we see God teaching, healing, sacrificing His life, correcting in love, guarding His flock, and patiently counseling.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Third Commandment (1997)
Not only does Jesus characterize Himself as truth in John 14:6, but He also adds in John 17:17 that "[God's] word is truth." In I Corinthians 15:45, 47, Paul refers to Jesus as "the last Adam" or "the second Man," the beginning of a new order, of an entire race or family of beings just like Him, just as all of mankind is in the image of our first forefather, the first Adam.
Many can say, "I have told you the truth." However, Jesus did not just tell the truth, He embodied it. He put truth into a visible, concrete form so all who so desire can see it. What credibility that gives! A teacher can present a mathematical, grammatical, scientific, or historical truth, and what kind of a person he is does not matter much. However, if a person teaches or administers moral truth, his example—what he is in his character—is all-important. Do people want to be lectured on purity by an adulterer or on honesty by a liar and thief (Romans 2:21-24)?
"Truth" in John 17:17 is the Greek word aletheia, which means "reality, the manifested, unconcealed essence of a matter." Truth is the reality lying at the foundation of a righteous example. It is pure unadulterated reality.
Contrast this with what Jesus says of Satan to the Jews in John 8:44:
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.
Satan is Christ's diametrical opposite, one hundred percent unmodified deceit. God's entire plan is based on the premise that the converted know that God is true. If He is not true to His Word or to His own way of life, how can He be trusted? We must live by faith in this true Being and in what He says! Truth forms the basis, the foundation, the reality, for a person's conversion.
Consider this: There is a personal, living, almighty God whose ways and laws are intrinsically right—they are true. Therefore, a person who has God's Spirit and is honest, who is willing to speak the truth and acknowledge it when it is shown to him, and who will use it in everyday, practical situations must eventually become like the One he models himself after.
God is making us kings and priests, that is, leaders and teachers of a way of life based on revealed truth. He will not have anyone in His Family who does not embody truth as Jesus did. In other words, we, too, will be truth personified. However, for this to occur we must live it to the best of our abilities now.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment
Jesus announces to them that He is leaving. Because they want to be where He is, they want to know the way to get there. When He says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life," He is basically saying that it is through a unique combination of a relationship with Him, which consists of being justified through Him, following His example, and obeying what He commands.
Christianity is a way of life. The disciples ask, "Show us the way." Where was Christ going to be? In the Kingdom of God. How does one get to the Kingdom of God? There is a way! It is not "all roads lead to heaven," but there is one way to get there.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Two)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing John 14:6:
2 Corinthians 1:17-19
1 John 5:1-8