Having been given a map with a plotted destination that is assuredly the only possible route, the traveler has but one decision. Will he move forward, following closely the map he’s been given? He doesn’t sit and meditate whether or not to be stationery. This a location desired of by many but revealed to few that he longs to become a citizen of. He must go.
So it is with salvation. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, the Life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” (John 14:6) The way? That’s right. The only way. The only possible route to the Father is Jesus. When Christ spoke these words, He knew exactly what He was saying. “I am the road and the truth and the life. No one will see my Father unless it’s through Myself.” Way could be rendered as road and it’s a road we must choose to take. But hey, we’re sovereign grace through and through. This sounds like some free-will, works-for-salvation approach to Christ. Yet, it is exactly opposite.
What’s the route to any destination but what we call the way? If a friend and I come to a fork in the road of a forest and we choose the separate roads, I’d say, “I’ll go this way.” What if we were to never come to a conclusion on which direction to proceed? There’d be no positive progress, in fact, we’d probably starve to death, become prey to a predatory wild animal or become hypothermic and die at some point. It sounds funny but it’s deadly truth. The purpose of a road is for it to be traversed because it leads somewhere. The road crews don’t pave roads for fun. And roads were not created to be admired from a distance; they must be used.
Jesus says He is the way - the road - that leads to the Father. He’s the highway for those that seek God. This same group are those who have been given access to this road in order that they might enter into Heaven. He’s a toll road and has paid the fee by His blood. So what does it actually mean that Jesus is the road to the Father? In the simplest sense it really does sound like a free-will based statement, I know, but I believe Paul had a clearer view of this than we did because he was an example.
Saul the Persecutor, before conversion, was a man to be feared. This man, the seeming crusader of his day, was “making havoc of the churches” (Acts 8:3) and “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord.” (Acts 9:1) He was traveling to Damascus in search of more Christians he could persecute. All the while thinking he was doing this for God, for His people. This seems like the right moment to quote Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” And also, Proverbs 21:2 “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.” Saul had a plan and it was right in his eyes. Not only that, but Saul had sent unto the high priest that if he found any of the way, he might have permission to bring them bound to Jerusalem. (Acts 9:2) But the Lord had a greater plan and met Saul, personally, on the road to Damascus!
The term used to describe Christians in Acts 9:2 is the people of the way. Indeed, some called the early Christians this. This new person, the Christian, was of a different life and it was noticeable. Saul hated them. He hated this way. Christ was a lunatic to Saul. He’d seen and perhaps even been the one who initiated the stoning of Stephen. Saul was on his way to continue the massacre. Listen, Saul was on his way, going after the way and Jesus met him on the way (to Damascus) and showed him the true Way! I’m not trying to play word games, I promise.
Saul had every intention in his heart to go forward and be this great hero of Judaism. The way of his heart was darkened. He was dead in sin and trespasses. He was hunting people of the way or Christians. While on the road to Damascus, a bright light shone about and Jesus revealed Himself as the true Way to Saul! This is what it means to see the Way, the Truth and the Life! Paul was headed down the road that ultimately led to destruction when Christ saved him and made known the true path.
Is this not what happens to the lost wanderer in a damp, dark and cold forest? Without a map, without guidance, they will surely perish. There is no clear path and no understanding of where to go; only what seems right at the moment. The weary wanderer has no way. That is Saul and that is us without the glorious light and life of Christ. But what would the wanderer, being given this path do? He would go. Because paths are made for going.
“And a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.” Isaiah 35:8
Jesus says, “I am the Way,” not merely meaning that His death, burial and resurrection are the only chance in which we could have salvation – we cannot diminish that point, for it is the Gospel – but what I’m getting at is His speech is clear, implying that His way must be lived through us. He’s revealed to us the highway and the path and the way that we must go, and so we must.
The wanderer, with his newly found path, goes and heads towards rescue. He escapes the doom of being trapped helplessly in the forest. Sure, the path itself and it’s end is salvation but there is still a season of travel and of work to get there. You can say, having this path is the rescue now and will be the rescue once it is reached in it’s entirety.
The Bible says it like this, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12) How can one that already has eternal life now, that has already been saved from the wrath to come and been restored unto right fellowship with the Father, work out their salvation? The answer is in Jesus’ statement. He is the way that leads to the Father and that way must be taken. It’s not just a one-step road, it’s a lifetime of following that path. That path is truth. And that path of truth is life and leads to life. This road [Jesus] is the one He says we must follow, and it is the path of abundant life and full joy consumed in the pleasure and savoring of God’s glory. (Psalm 16:11)
It’s not enough to say, I follow Jesus, and never take a step. It’s a lie to say you follow Him but refuse to bow your life in obedience and travel the path of righteousness that God has given you liberty to do. The path remains the same – trust in Jesus’ finished work for sinners as their substitute and in His death, burial, resurrection and ascension to the Father – but in another sense, you can say the path is in the going. Those who are saved and have the way revealed to them will show what John the Baptist required before baptism. (Matthew 3:8) These are they who have faith, yes, but faith with works. There’s evidence in their life that they are being conformed to the image of the Son. We like to call it sanctification. And where does sanctification come from? The truth! And truth brings life to those who know the true way.
“For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” I Timothy 4:8
The life that now is, is knowing Jesus as the Way. The life that is to come is following Christ all the way as the Way. It is the perseverance of the saints! We have been saved by the Way, as we follow the Lord and His Word - His way - we are being saved and one day we will be saved to the uttermost! (Hebrews 7:25) Because it is God who shows the Way, it is God who gives us the strength to follow the Way and it is God who will meet us at the end-point of the Way.