We’ve all been there: that awkward moment in a conversation when it becomes abundantly clear to you that you have no idea what someone is talking about. And you know you should know. But you don’t.
Enter the disciples in John 14. Jesus had just told them that He is leaving them. And they can’t go with Him, but He was going away to prepare a place for them, and then, He explained, He would return for them and take them to be with Him forever.
Wait. What? What's going on? You're going where?
We shouldn’t blame them if they were confused. The evening had begun with Jesus scandalously washing their filthy feet, followed by an announcement that someone in their group would betray Him, and finally they heard the unbelievable news that even Peter would deny Him. That was understandably a lot to take in.
So when Jesus attempted to console them (Kristin paraphrase: It’s okay that you don’t come with Me now, because you know the way to the place where I am going), the awkward moment had arrived. I imagine their heads were swimming in an attempt to make sense of what had just been said.
Finally, Thomas lets loose in a classic everybody’s-thinking-it-I’m-just-saying-it moment: BUT WE DON’T ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT! WE DON’T KNOW THE WAY!
And Jesus replied with something like:
Oh Thomas. SIGH. You DO know the way.
I AM the way. I AM the truth and the life.
I AM the only way to the Father.
What exactly was He saying? Most scholars agree He absolutely meant if you want to get to God and eternal life it’s through Him. He is the way we access the Father. He is the way we know the Father. He said as much to Thomas. You’ve seen Me…you’ve seen the Father….
But, as usual, there is more to I AM the way. Consider for a moment that when we go His way, it’s not just about access to heaven when we die. While eternal destiny is of course important, His way is for now. His way is the way to peace now, to grace, to hope and to a love that reaches even into the darkest corners of our hearts. His way is the way to healing and joy and purpose in the here and now. To restoration and refreshment and rebirth. His is the way to life right now.
Right now, it’s not just the way to life, it’s a way of life, and it’s a road less travelled because it’s a challenging way of life for sure.
It’s a way of life that insists we forgive, even if someone isn’t sorry. It’s a way of life that says we go the extra mile for people, even if they don’t deserve it and won’t appreciate it. It’s the way of life that seeks to love not just our friends and family, but even those who hate us. It's continuing to hope, even when all reason says it's too late. It’s a way of life that pours out over and over, giving until there is nothing left to give. It's a way of life that embodies sacrifice and a call to go further...further than you want to go, further than you've been asked to go, and even further than you should have to go.
That’s a road less travelled. That’s the way of Jesus.