When Jesus calls Himself, “The Way, the Truth, and the Life,” what does He mean? What is the Way? What is Truth? How can this one man be THE Life? But, most importantly, what can we learn from it?
In this post, these questions will be discussed, and hopefully, eventually at length to a point there will be better answers. This will be a start as I dive into these ideas, but more will come.
The idea of the Way, as discussed in other posts ( Christian Lessons Learned From Taoism
, Book Review: Tao Te Ching By Lao Tzu
, Book Review: The Analects And The Doctrine Of The Mean
) is an idea that involves one finding the mean between the extremes of behavior. To be courageous is to find the balance, or mean, between rashness and cowardice, as well as apply it correctly in a given circumstance.
Jesus exemplifies this in His life as he shows people the perfect way to interact with a plethora of circumstances and temptations. Christians will say that Jesus lived a sinless life (and as a Catholic, I believe this), but all rational people can acknowledge that Jesus lived a good life and showed others how to do so through example. When Jesus says He is the Way, not only does He mean people find God and are redeemed through Him and His sacrifice, but He gives a roadmap for the journey called life through the way He lived.
This is important because not only should one seek God, but in finding Him, they should be transformed into a more holy person. By saying He is the Way, Jesus tells us that not only is he a metaphysical and spiritual path to God, but a physical path toward God as well.
What is Truth? Truth is a statement. It is absolute, either true or false. Truth is something that exists outside of perceptions, but can be observed by senses and distilled through logic and reason. Truth is reality, something that can be verified to exist- whether easily observable or proven through theoretical mathematics (that I could only dream of understanding).
What makes Jesus the Truth? If, as Christians believe, Jesus is God incarnate, then He is the Creator of the Universe. The Creator is the one who created the universe and the rules that it follows, thus the Creator is the one that creates Truth. By claiming to be the Truth, Jesus claims to embody the creation of God, while still being fully divine as well. This, however, is no conundrum because the order of the universe springs forth from the nature of God. Therefore, the Truth is the physical reality that comes from the metaphysical reality, which is necessary for people to be able to perceive it and understand it.
There are many metaphors and sayings that describe life, but it can be described most simply as existence. This existence that all people experience has a source, one that is divine in nature. Thus by claiming to be the Life, Jesus alludes to His divine nature. This attachment to the divine is something profound, because by entering into the physical world as a physical being, Jesus enables the self-sacrifice God makes to redeem all of mankind. This life that Jesus claims to be is one that He gives to us by His sacrifice.
For those who do not believe in Christianity, this idea should still be profound. The story is that the God that created man in His own image and likeness came into the world in the image and likeness of man, lowering Himself to man’s status. He then suffered a horrific death on man’s behalf and redeemed them. This story, if that’s all it is to a non-believer, is one that developed over generations of people for a couple thousand years and shows the selflessness of a truly merciful and loving God. It is a noble story without the divine aspects, but with that it is truly profound.
This short line in the Bible is one that is often repeated, but the profoundness of the statement can be easily overlooked. The manner in which Jesus speaks is one that is echoed by sages throughout the world and throughout history. The Way shows up in the East through Taoist and Confucian thought. The Truth is sought without tiring in the School of Athens and by the Greek philosophers. The Life, described as the Self in Hinduism, God’s breath in Judaism, or simply chance in Atheism, is something all of mankind seeks to understand, searching for the purpose of it. By saying, “I am,” Jesus takes on the role of these confounding mysteries and embodies them, making them understandable to common people, making God accessible to all.
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