Why Did Jesus Say "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life" in John 14:6?

In John 14, Jesus said to His disciples, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

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Jesus: The Way to the Father

“Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” John 14:5-10

Meaning of "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"

John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

I am the way

Our Lord takes the opportunity of this discourse about the place he was going to, and the way unto it, more fully to instruct his disciples concerning himself, saying, "I am the way"; Christ is not merely the way, as he goes before his people as an example; or merely as a prophet, pointing out unto them by his doctrine the way of salvation; but he is the way of salvation itself by his obedience and sacrifice; nor is there any other; he is the way of his Father's appointing, and which is entirely agreeable to the perfections of God, and suitable to the case and condition of sinners; he is the way to all the blessings of the covenant of grace, and he is the right way into a Gospel church state here; no one comes rightly into a church of Christ but by faith in him; and he is the way to heaven: he is entered into it himself by his own blood, and has opened the way to it through himself for his people.

The truth

He is not only true, but truth itself: this may regard his person and character; he is the true God, and eternal life; truly and really a man; as a prophet, he taught the way of God in truth; as a priest, he is a faithful, as well as a merciful one, true and faithful to him that appointed him; and as a King, just and true are all his ways and administrations: he is the sum and substance of all the truths of the Gospel; they are all full of him, and center in him; and he is the truth of all the types and shadows, promises and prophecies of the Old Testament; they have all their accomplishment in him; and he is the true way, in opposition to all false ones of man's devising. And this phrase seems to be opposed to a notion of the Jews, that the law was the true way of life, and who confined truth to the law. They have a saying, that, "Moses and his law are the truth"; this they make Korah and his company say in hell. That the law of Moses was the truth, is certain; but it is too strong an expression to say of Moses himself, that he was the truth; but well agrees with Christ, by whom grace and truth came in opposition to Moses, by whom came the law: but when they say, "there is no truth but the law", they do not speak the truth. More truly do they speak, when, in answer to that question, "what is truth?" it is said, that he is the living God, and King of the world, characters that well agree with Christ.

And the life:

Christ is the author and giver of life, natural, spiritual, and eternal; or he is the way of life, or "the living way"; in opposition to the law, which was so far from being the way of life, that it was the ministration of condemnation and death: he always, and ever will be the way; all in this way live, none ever die, and it is a way that leads to eternal life: and to conclude all the epithets in one sentence, Christ is the true way to eternal life. It is added by way of explanation of him, as the way.

This commentary is an excerpt from John Gill's Exposition of the Bible.

Bible Commentary of “The Way, The Truth, The Life”

Matthew Henry made the following commentary about the Bible chapter of John 14:

Thomas enquired concerning the way (v. 5), without any apology for contradicting his Master.1. He said, "Lord, we know not whither thou goest, to what place or what state, and how can we know the way in which we must follow thee? We can neither guess at it, nor enquire it out, but must still be at a loss.’’ Christ’s testimony concerning their knowledge made them more sensible of their ignorance, and more inquisitive after further light. Thomas here shows more modesty than Peter, who thought he could follow Christ now. Peter was the more solicitous to know whither Christ went. Thomas here, though he complains that he did not know this, yet seems more solicitous to know the way. 

His confession of his ignorance was commendable enough. If good men are in the dark, and know but in part, yet they are willing to own their defects. But, (2.) The cause of his ignorance was culpable. They knew not whither Christ went, because they dreamed of a temporal kingdom in external pomp and power, and doted upon this, notwithstanding what he had said again and again to the contrary. Hence it was that, when Christ spoke of going away and they’re following him, their fancy ran upon his going to some remarkable city or other, Bethlehem, or Nazareth, or Capernaum, or some of the cities of the Gentiles, as David to Hebron, there to be anointed king, and to restore the kingdom to Israel; and which way this place lay, where these castles in the air were to be built, east, west, north, or south, they could not tell, and therefore knew not the way. Thus still we think ourselves more in the dark than we need to be concerning the future state of the church, because we expect its worldly prosperity, whereas it is spiritual advancement that the promise points at. Had Thomas understood, as he might have done, that Christ was going to the invisible world, the world of spirits, to which spiritual things only have a reference, he would not have said, Lord, we do not know the way.

Now to this complaint of their ignorance, which included a desire to be taught, Christ gives a full answer, v. 6, v. 7. Thomas had enquired both whither he went and what was the way, and Christ answers both these inquiries and makes good what he had said, that they would have needed no answer if they had understood themselves aright; for they knew him, and he was the way; they knew the Father, and he was the end; and therefore, whither I go you know, and the way you know. Believe in God as the end, and in me as the way (v. 1), and you do all you should do. (1.) He speaks of himself as the way, v. 6. Dost thou not know the way? I am the way, and I only, for no man comes to the Father but by me. Great things Christ here saith of himself, showing us, The nature of his mediation: He is the way, the truth, and the life. 

The Way, The Truth, The Light - Related Bible Verses

“So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.” John 6:67-71

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” John 3:16-19

“If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken” John 10:35

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

The Word Became Flesh

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” John 1:1-18

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” John 14:1

What Did Jesus Mean by "The Way, the Truth, and the Life" in John 14?

As transcribed from the video above, Jaye Martin gives her explanation as to what Jesus meant when He described Himself as "the way, the truth, and the life":

In John 14:6, Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me." That's a very difficult passage because so many people see that we must not be open if we don't accept all these people who come to God in other ways. But it's very clear here, Jesus says, and we must go through Christ to get to God. And so, we see that he was truth. And sometimes it's hard to communicate the truth because there's something that we want to gloss over. I would say for each of us, we need to say, am I communicating truth, am I living out with integrity what I know to be true? Because I believe if I honestly lived out truth every day, other people would see that. And sometimes it's hard to explain it to people, but I think when they ask us, we need to say, Jesus says he is the only way. And that's great news because all they have to do is say, okay, open my eyes, Lord. And I want to see that. And that's the truth of the gospel.

Image Credit: Pxhere


Originally published June 16, 2020.