Read: John 14:1-6
Jesus had just told the disciples that he was about to leave them, probably to their surprise. Many of the Jews thought that the messiah would be a lasting messiah, not one who would leave them only after such a short time (John 12:34). To console them, Jesus says two things: he goes to prepare a place for them and that he will return for them. These words probably provide some level of comfort, but they still do not understand what Jesus is talking about. Jesus is not talking about a place on earth, rather that he was going to return to be with God (John 13:1). John gives glimpses of this place in Revelation 21:22-23 and Isaiah 6:1-5 describes the place of God. Jesus was going to return to the glory which he left in order to become a man, serve others, then die (Philippians 2:5-9). Jesus return was probably also difficult to understand too. Jesus says after the resurrection that his return will be in the manner in which he goes away (Acts 1:11) and with trumpets and voices to which he will call all those who believe in him to be with him (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
The confusion is illustrated by Thomas’ remarks: he does not know where Jesus is going or how to get there. Jesus answers by saying that he is “the way”, and the place he is going is to be with the Father. The Greek word translated “way” is “ὁδος” which literally means road, street, or path, but can be figurative too. Jesus associates the “the way” with two other concepts that he had associated with himself namely “the truth” (John 1:14, John 1:17, John 5:33, John 8:31-32, John 8:44-46) and “the life” (John 1:4, John 3:15-16, John 4:14, John 5:24-29, John 6:27-48, John 10:10, John 11:25). These two concepts by now were familiar with the disciples, and they believed that Jesus was indeed the way to eternal life, so much so that when Jesus asks them if they want to abandon him too, Peter replies “to whom shall we go?” (John 6:68) In other words, there was no other person who could bring eternal life other than Jesus. Peter affirms this when he speaks before the rulers and elders in the temple. He declares is salvation is found in no one else other than the name of Jesus. When Jesus declares that he is that no one comes to the Father except through him, he is saying that he is the only path to salvation. There is no plan B, path, or means to salvation other than Jesus.
If Jesus is the truth and the life and salvation can be found in no other, then logically it follows that any other claiming to have a way to salvation is false. For many with modern sensibilities that seek to include everyone as to not create divisions among people, this is a difficult truth to accept. Such people want to think that there are many paths to God and that so long as one is truly committed to his or her path, he or she will reach God. There are two problem with this thinking: The first is obvious: it is contrary to what Jesus said. Second, as a matter of practicality, the only one in jeopardy of not receiving salvation is the one who wants to be inclusive. If the inclusivist is right, then the inclusivist and the exclusivist receive salvation. If the exclusivist is right, only the exclusivist receives salvation. In both cases, the exclusivist receives salvation, so it is more reasonable to be an exclusivist. If the modern Christian wants to be inclusive, then include as many as one can by preaching the one way to the Father to all creation (rather than contradicting the teachings of Christ) so Jesus can make a place for them and call them home when he returns. For we know in the end there will be a great multitude from every tribe, tongue and nation worshiping God (Revelation 5:9)!
Lord, you are the way! Help to share the way with as many as I can!