Daily Devotions are published Tuesday-Saturday during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
John 14: 4-7; 11-12 (NRSV)
And you know the way to the place where I am going. Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me you will know my Father also….”
Believe 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. Very 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.
In her Mother’s Day sermon on “How to Know the Way,” Pastor Jen told us that finding the “way” is “as simple as living our lives in Christ and then sharing those lives with others.” The language of verse 12 confirms Pastor Jen’s guidance: “The one who believes in me will also do the works that I do.” In so doing, we can use the resources and gifts that we have been blessed with to live out God’s will here on Earth in gratitude for the unmerited grace and love endowed upon us through Jesus’s death and resurrection.SeeGalatians 2:16 (KJV) which confirms that we are justified “by the faith of Jesus Christ.”
Through the years, the second half of verse 6 proclaiming that “No one comes to the Father except through me” has been cited by some to argue that belief in Jesus is the only way to God. I will admit that I am somewhat troubled by John’s recitation of Jesus’s words since, at least superficially, they could be read to support such an exclusionary approach to salvation. However, I find it difficult to believe that Jesus intended to limit God’s grace and salvation to only those who believe in him for a number of reasons. First, in John 10:16, Jesus says, “I have other sheep that do not belong to [my] fold. I must bring them also….” Second, I find it difficult to believe that Jesus would seek to preclude Jews, who believe in the same God as we do, from knowing and enjoying God’s grace and salvation. Indeed, 1 Timothy 2:3-4 proclaims that God our Savior “desires everyone to be saved.”
Third, Jesus’s does not state that belief in him is required. Instead, he says that we can come to the Father only through him. Guided by Pastor Jen’s sermon, I read Jesus’s words to mean that we can come to God through the “way” that Jesus has taught us in his teachings and life on Earth. Finally, as Keith Johnson wrote in his recent book The Essential Karl Barth, a study on the Swiss theologian: While God is free to do what God chooses in deciding whether to save all people, “the reality that God’s love in Jesus Christ has prevailed against sin and evil leaves us with a command to hope and pray for the salvation of all.”
God, please help us to follow the “way” by living our lives as your son Jesus has taught and by doing the works that Jesus himself did. We do this in gratitude for the salvation and eternal life which has been gifted to all humankind by your son’s death and resurrection and by your grace. Amen.