This is the seventh post in a series based on John Maisel’s lecture and book “Is Jesus God?” Click here to receive your free download of this resource.
Jesus did not say, “I am a way”; He said, “I am the way.”
A lot of people think that God is sitting on top of a mountain, and the people of the world have different ways they can climb up the mountain to get to God. They think that it really does not make any difference how they get to God because everyone is climbing to get to the same place where they can know God. Many conclude that any way that they get to the top is fine, or any belief they choose will get them to God.
Any path is legitimate because we are all climbing the same mountain, right? Not if you consider a principle of logic called, “The Law of Non-Contradictions,” which states, If “A” contradicts “B” or “B” contradicts “A,” then either one is right and the other is wrong, or they are both wrong.
For example, if I say all pens write with black ink, and you say some pens write with blue ink, both of these statements cannot be true. Either I am right and you are wrong; or you are right and I am wrong; or we are both wrong.
Here is another example. The Muslim says, “Jesus was just a prophet; he was a good moral man. But he did not die on the cross, and he did not rise again on the third day. To get to God one must obey Mohammed.” The Christian agrees with Jesus who said He is the Savior of the world. The Christian believes that Jesus died on the cross and three days later rose again from the dead. Both of these positions cannot be true; either one is right and the other is wrong, or vice versa, or they are both wrong.
Furthermore, Jesus said, “I am the way,” not “a way,” and that is an exclusive statement.
If Jesus’ words are true, He eliminates all other paths up the mountain to God. If Jesus is the way, the only way that I can come to God, then no one else—not even Mohammed, Confucius, Buddha, or self is a way to God.
I did not come to you with that statement. Jesus said it. If there exists any other path to God other than through Jesus Christ, then Christ’s death on the cross loses all meaning.
If there exists more than one path to God, He did not need to send His only Son Jesus Christ to die on a cross in your place. Does that seem narrow? Exclusive? Rigid? Perhaps so, but God said it clearly and with no ambiguity because it is very important.
There is another way to view Jesus’ statement that He is “the way.” When you consider that God is perfect, the overriding reaction is amazement that we can have a relationship with Him at all. That there is any way to this holy and righteous God is what is unbelievable to me when I consider the state of man.
Look at mankind’s precarious position.
We have violated the standards and laws of a perfectly holy, perfectly righteous and just God. How? In the words of the Bible, we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s standards (Romans 3:23). Those of you who know Greek, know the graphic origin of the word sin. Originally sin was an archery term. When an archer fell short of the target, a checker on the archery range called back, “Sin!”, meaning he missed the mark or target.
God, who is perfect, must have perfect righteousness and perfect holiness in His presence. Those are His standards. That is the mark we must hit. And because we all fall short of that standard, we all are sinners.
If we are honest, we must acknowledge that our lives are not perfect. We have lied, stolen, coveted, envied; we have been jealous, angry, full of lust and greed. We have not been perfect in any relationship. We may compare our lives to someone else to feel better— certainly we have not committed the “If we are honest, we must acknowledge that our lives are not perfect” crimes of Stalin or Hitler. But that is a futile exercise. No matter who we are, the best of us morally have fallen short of the perfection of God’s standards. And because of our sin we are completely separated from God who loves us. When God says “yes,” we say “no.” When God says “no,” we say “yes.”
Most people, if they are honest with themselves, will agree that something deep inside is wrong and missing. That emptiness and aloneness we have is because we are separated from the one who made us. And He alone can give us peace, purpose and joy for living.
Listen to some of the statements from people we know who had tried to find happiness and meaning in life apart from God.
Lee Iacocca said, “Here I am in the twilight years of my life and I still haven’t found out what it’s all about. The only thing I know for sure is that fame and wealth are for the birds.”
Three weeks before Elvis Presley died, a friend of his asked him, “Elvis, you wanted three things when you started, wealth, fame and happiness?” Elvis replied, “I have two of the three – I am not happy, but I am lonely as hell.”
O.J. Simpson, Football superstar, similarly noted, “I sit in my house in Buffalo and sometimes I get so lonely it’s unbelievable. Life has been good to me. I’ve got a great wife, good kids, money, my own health – and I’m lonely and bored… I often wondered why so many rich people commit suicide. Money sure isn’t a cure-all”.
Let me put it another way. Most people think in terms of earning our way to God on the points we get for doing good. Certainly, that is how people think in the North American culture. If I work hard, I get promoted. If I study hard in school, I make good marks. If I work hard at soccer practice, I make first team.
We reason that we can each God the same way. Because He is a good God, mankind must work hard at doing good things to get to Him. But that is where the logic breaks down. God is perfect goodness, and our good works can never raise us to His level.
Here is a mental picture of what I am saying. Suppose God is in New York City and all the people in the world live in England. God says, “If you want to have a relationship with me, you must swim the ocean from England to New York.” So everyone dives in. Some people can swim only one kilometer. Some, ten kilometers. Some strong athletes may get as far as 300 kilometers. An Olympic swimmer might even cover 500 kilometers. But no one can swim all the way to New York; it is impossible.
Like the different levels of swimmers, we can compare our goodness to that of those around us. We can say, “I never left my wife,” or “I rarely cheat,” or “I’m no murderer.” But ultimately, we are not ranked in comparison to others. We are judged against the perfection of God’s goodness, and we fall short of the mark— we cannot swim the distance. We are sinners according to the standards of the God who made us. And because of our sin, we can anticipate nothing but separation from God. Even though our goodness when compared to other humans may be like the Olympic swimmer, we will fall short (or drown) when trying to swim to New York or meet God’s perfect standard of holiness and righteousness.
Now it stands to reason that if swimming from England to North America’s shores is impossible by my own power, I do not need swimming lessons. Instead, I need another way to cross. A lifeboat or a bridge.
Jesus says that He is the bridge that brings a holy God and a sinful mankind together. That is why Jesus Christ died. That is why the cross of Christ is the focal point of human history.
The New Testament says in 1 Timothy:
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time” -1 Timothy 2:5-6
If Jesus is the Way, then no other way leads up to God.
That is why reaching God requires more than a random path up a mountain. We can never offer God perfection—the mountain cannot be scaled. God said that He alone determined how people would come into His house.
Jesus said, “I am the way. I am the door, and entering the door takes you into God’s house.”