Thursday, November 17, 2011

Jesus: The Way

Jesus is the way. He is not “a way” or “telling us about the way,” or pointing us to someone else who can show us the way. No, Jesus claims to be the way. There is a uniqueness to Christ. This is nothing new. In chapter 10, Christ referred to Himself as the Good Shepherd. He also characterized Himself as the door to the sheepfold. He did not say that there were many doors. We can see from the beginning of the Old Testament things which show us that God is not a pluralist.

There was one entrance to the garden of Eden. After Adam and Eve had been expelled, an angel with a flaming sword was stationed at the entrance to guard the way so that they might not be able to get to the tree of life. No matter how hard Adam may have searched, there was no way He and Eve could get back into the garden and have access to the tree of life.

There was one entrance into the Ark. God told Noah to build the Ark and to have a door in it. It is through that door that Noah, his wife, his sons, and their wives entered. It was through that door that the animals who were to be preserved entered. It is that door that stood open for anyone who wished to enter the Ark. The Scripture teaches us that God waited patiently to execute His judgment while the Ark was being built.1 However, those who did not heed the warnings of Noah to enter the Ark, who chose to stay outside, perished. There were not hundreds of little boats going along in the wake of the Ark, nor were there other arks prepared by other people directed by other gods. There was but one Ark, and one entrance into it. The one way in which anyone then could have been saved was to enter into the Ark via the door.
There was one entrance into the Tabernacle, and later, into the Temple to get to the most holy place. There were not multiple entrances. by which people could get in. There are many other examples which could be used, but this should illustrate that Jesus did not teach the ideas we have of pluralism and inclusivism, that there are many ways to “get to God.”

Hendricksen says, “This is another of the seven great I AM's of John's Gospel . . . . In the predicate of each of the words way, truth, and life is preceded by the definite article.”2 He goes on to say, “Jesus does not merely show the way; he is himself the way. It is true that he teaches the way (Mark 12:14; Luke 20:21), guides us in the way (Luke 1:79), and has dedicated for us a new and living way (Heb. 10:20); but all this is possible only because he is himself the way.”3 Hendricksen also makes a valid point about us being saved by the person of Christ, not some nebulous principle or undefined force. He uses this illustration: “In the school the pupil is educated not primarily by blackboards, books, and maps, but by the teacher who makes use of all these means.”4 Jesus did not come to merely teach us about God, but to reveal God to us and to make a way for us to God through Himself. He is our way to God.

We cannot hold on to the thought that there are other, equally valid ways of approaching God. There are many examples that God is not pleased when we try to do things our way. The rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram give evidence of that. They rebelled against the appointment of the Aaronic priesthood, and they perished. Scripture tells us that “the ground under them split apart. And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods. So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them” (Num 16:32-33 [ESV]). Jesus is the way, and there is no other.
1See 1 Peter 3:20
2William Hendricksen, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to John, Vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1953), p. 267.
4Hendricksen, John, p. 267.

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