John 14:1-14, 27-29: December 15—The way
Dec 8, 2013
By MARK A. RATHEL

Mark Rathel is a professor of theology at The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville.
Jesus identified Himself as the one way of salvation. Many professing Christians, including some Baptists, deny Jesus’ teaching of being the one way of reconciliation between sinful humanity and a holy God. A disavowal of Jesus’ claim results in a profession of Jesus as one of many paths to God—thereby denying His Lordship. The view of the possibility of salvation through many paths functions as one of the key teachings of Hinduism.  The Baptist Faith and Message succinctly summarizes the biblical teachings: “There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.”

The context of John 14 is important. On the last night before His crucifixion, Jesus prepared the disciples for ministry after His death. What did Jesus teach about being the one way (path) between humans and God?

First, Jesus claimed the role of exclusive way to God (John 14:1-6). Jesus’ claim recorded in verse six is the boldest and most offensive claim ever made. Before issuing the claim, Jesus provided the reasons. First, Jesus commanded people to have the same attitude towards Him as towards God—an attitude of believe or trust. Second, Jesus declared the ability to teach about heaven—the Father’s house. Many dwelling places exist in the Father’s house. “Dwelling places” is a noun derived from the verb translated “abide” in John 15. Heaven is abiding with God and Jesus. 

Jesus, thus, described heaven in terms of a rich personal relationship with God. Third, Jesus prepared the way to heaven through His death, resurrection, and ascension. He will     return to bring His followers to the Father’s house. 

Finally, Jesus claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life. All three terms—way, truth, and life were common concepts in the Hebrew OT as well as first century religious pluralism. The Hebrews understood all three terms in a relational manner; the pagans understood the terms as religious-philosophical claims. (For background of Jesus as the truth, see my article in the current edition of The Biblical Illustrator—published by Lifeway.

Second, Jesus affirmed a claim to be the way to knowledge of God (John 14:7-11). If Jesus is the way to God, an individual must understand who Jesus is. God built into human nature a desire know God. 

Yet, humans do not discover God through empirical means as the dialogue with Phillip affirms. Phillip requested a burning bush type demonstration. Jesus offered three arguments for the correlation between knowing Christ and knowing God. First, Jesus and the Father are one in essence (John 10:30). To see Jesus, the Word become flesh (1:14), is to see God. Jesus, then, is not a mere religious teacher. Second, Jesus’ teaching, specifically His claim to deity, point to His oneness with the Father (v. 10). Finally, the miracles of Jesus point to His identity (v. 10). Jesus words and miracles are the words and miracles of God. The proper response is belief (v. 11).

Third, Jesus asserted He was the way to pray to God (John 4:12-14). God’s promises often occur within a specific context. 

Here the context of the promise related to prayer is the church’s mission. The mission of the church exists because Jesus departed to heaven (v. 12). Because Jesus ascended, followers will accomplish “greater things”—the message of Jesus’ words and works spread throughout the world. 

In the context of the mission, Jesus promised to answer prayer. Notice the conditions of this promise. The prayer must be in Jesus’ name. This phrase is more than mere words tagged to the end of a prayer. 

To pray in the name of Jesus is to pray in alignment with His mission. Further, the prayer request focuses on the glory of God rather than selfish ends.

 

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