I am the Way, Truth and Life

I am the Way, Truth and Life

In John 14:6, which is spoken in the larger context of Jesus’ farewell discourse with the disciples, he answers Thomas’ question about the way to where Jesus is going (his Father’s house) by saying: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” In other words, he personifies the way, and the truth, and the life. Jesus the way prevents us from getting lost amidst so many ways. Jesus the truth reveals all that we need to know concerning himself, God, others, the world, his Church, and heaven. Jesus the life provides us with everything that we need to live in this world and beyond. The universe as well as every human who is graced with faith in Jesus is given this way, this truth, and this life. Eventually, Jesus the way, truth, and life shall gather all of his followers into his Father’s house. It is with eager longing that we await that time, even as we live in the here and now.

 

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I am the Good Shepherd

I am the Good Shepherd

The picture of Jesus as the good shepherd who lays his life down for the sheep in John 10:11, 14 has provided countless people of faith much comfort and confidence down through the ages. Most likely biblically literate Jews and Christians automatically think of Psalm 23 whenever they hear the language of shepherd and sheep. Jesus too certainly knew the other shepherd-sheep passages from the Hebrew Bible, where shepherds represented the political and spiritual leaders of Israel and the sheep all Israelites. As our Good Shepherd, Jesus provides for our physical and spiritual needs; protects us from danger and harm; and preserves life through the forgiveness of sin made effective through the laying down of his life—his atoning work on the cross. One of, if not “the” most moving, tender passages of the New Testament is Luke 15. Here Jesus our Good Shepherd is prepared to seek out and save a single lost sheep and leave his whole flock behind. Each sheep/person is extremely valued by Jesus—hence the feasting when the lost are found.

 

I am the door/gate

I am the door/gate for the sheep

In this third “I am” saying of Jesus, “I am the door/gate for the sheep,” (John 10:7, 9), the Greek word for door/gate is θύρα (thura), which can be translated as either door or gate—although it refers more often elsewhere to door than gate. Here Jesus is speaking on at least two levels. The first level refers to the literal, biblical agrarian world of the Holy Land. Sheep were protected from robbers and thieves by herding them into pens or sheep-folds and the shepherd may very well have served as the door/gate for the pen to keep the sheep safe inside the pen and allow them to go outside when it was time to go back into the pasture or to the nearest water source. On a deeper, spiritual level, Jesus is speaking of his authenticity as the Messiah over against false-pretender leaders, teachers and messiahs. He is also speaking of eternal life, where Jesus is the door/gate into heaven, hence the way of salvation for those who belong to and follow him. The picture/image/metaphor of a door is a most comforting one then in relation to Jesus and all of his would-be followers. A closed and locked door speaks of protection and security. An open door suggests freedom, opportunity, adventure, excitement, and growth in faith, hope and love as one follows Jesus wherever he leads us.

I am the Light of the world

I am the Light of the world

The second “I am” saying of Jesus is: “I am the light of the world,” John 8:12; 9:5. In the larger context of both these passages, Jesus reveals himself as the light of the world. First, he prevents a woman “caught in adultery” (no mention of the man) from being stoned to death by challenging the would be stone-casters to look at themselves and see if they are sinless before they begin stoning the woman. Jesus may have written each of their sins on the ground for them to see. No one was without sin, so they dropped their stones and left. Jesus saved the woman’s life. In the second passage, Jesus is the light of the world by healing the man born blind. His blindness kept him in darkness, now he could see the light—both natural and spiritual. In John’s Gospel, Jesus the light of the world shines in the darkness—the powers of evil—to reveal the truth about God, himself, humankind, the world, and God’s eternal realm. Christ the light shines in the darkness and the darkness shall never overcome the True Light. One day all darkness shall banish as we see Christ the light face to face.

The 7 “I am” sayings of Jesus

The 7 “I am” sayings of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel

Right from the beginning, any reader of the Gospel of John will notice that it is different than the three Synoptic Gospels. Many of Jesus’ discourses in John are rich with mystery and riddles that hook readers to think more deeply about the primary Christological question: Who is Jesus Christ? Jesus answers that question and much more in a variety of ways, including the seven “I am” sayings.

 

In the next while, I plan on posting my humble attempts at exploring Jesus’ “I am” sayings in my sketch pad, using oil pastels. They shall also appear here as blog headers. The first in this series is: “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:35, 41, 48-51)

35, 41, 48-51