John 14:5 – 12
5Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ 6Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you know me, you will know* my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’
8 Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ 9Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.
We closed yesterday’s passage with Jesus saying, “And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Now Thomas says, “We don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” And Philip says, “Show us the Father.” Apparently, neither one understands what Jesus really is saying. They are still seeing and hearing the surface words – when Jesus says place, they are thinking of a spot on a map, a house in a city; when Jesus says Father, they are thinking a human being. And you can almost hear the frustration in Jesus’ voice as he responds to each of them. After all this time, haven’t they learned anything???
I wonder if Jesus sometimes feels frustrated with me in that way? After all this time, haven’t I learned anything??
But with patience, Jesus replies to Thomas, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus is not talking about the road to some distant city; Jesus is talking about the revelation of God in him. The “New Interpreter’s Study Bible” says, “John 14:6 expresses the central theological conviction of the Gospel of John: Jesus is the tangible presence of God in the world. The language of Father and Son points to the intimacy of the relationship between God and Jesus.” Thus, it is through our experience of Jesus that we know God. Or we can say that this way, God first revealed himself to humanity in nature, in the beauty of his creation; then he reveals himself in scripture; but the ultimate revelation of God is in the person of Jesus. Therefore, the answer to both questions is the same answer: Jesus is the way to the Father, and the revelation of the Father. If they have seen Jesus, they have seen the Father. We can see God through the actions and spirit of Jesus, as recorded in the scriptures.
But many people today take this passage out of context, and what John intended as revelation of God, they use as evidence of exclusiveness. John is showing his community, and as his future readers, us, that Jesus has opened the door to an understanding of God, to relationship with God.