Some concepts taught in Scripture are difficult to comprehend and then to apply to life. Jesus so often taught by means of a metaphor. He would take some huge idea and use a simple metaphor of regular life as a way to demonstrate his point. “You are the salt of the earth.” “You are the light of the world.” Can you imagine trying to explain to people the idea he had in mind without the use of the metaphors of salt and light? By using such words he could describe his point in a way even a child could grasp while challenging the wisest person in the crowd in applying it to life.
One such illustration from Jesus is found in John 14:6. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Focus with me on one small part of this statement. “I am the way.” Normally, when I’ve thought about this text my mind runs quickly to a road or path that one needs to follow to get to some particular place. If someone asked how to get to the Arkansas River from where I sit right now, I could give them directions on the way they needed to go in order to get there. But I don’t believe that even gets close to the primary point that Jesus was making when he declared, “I am the way.” Imagine a small child asking their dad how to fix a toy that they have so that it will run again. If the dad said to the child, “This is the way you fix it” we wouldn’t think of some path or road that one needs to travel to get it fixed. Instead we would think of this being the means, the method of how to accomplish the goal in mind. Jesus came into this world to live among us as God in the flesh. He was “The word made flesh.” We are able to see the message of God for us in the life and actions of Jesus and not just learn God’s message through the preaching or teaching of Jesus. Everything he did was a means of sharing God’s message with the world to help us come to know God.
So, when Jesus said, “I am the way” it wasn’t just saying I’m the road you must travel on to get to life in God. It is a declaration that we must look at how Jesus did the things he did and how he worked with people, as we hear the message he preached to them. If we ignore the message of his actions and life, while listening to the sermons, we will understand neither his actions nor his words. But when I listen to his words in light of how he acted and conducted himself among the people regularly I can understand both what he said and what he did. I must follow Jesus lifestyle and hear his truth teaching in order to have life in him that leads to God.
Consider some aspects of Jesus as the way that leads to life. He saw the individual instead of just seeing the crowd around him. In John 5 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to a pool near the Sheep Gate, called Bethesda because it was surrounded by five porches. There was a great number of people lying there dealing with sickness, disease and handicaps of all kinds. He mentioned the blind, the lame, the paralyzed but then it says, “One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?” Now the man began to explain his problem. He needed someone to help him get in when the water was stirred. But Jesus cut through the whole discussion with the command to “Get up, Pick up your mat and walk.” The man was healed on this Sabbath Day and with joy went toward home with his mat. Many were there. All of them were hurting. But Jesus focused on one man in need and healed him. If I follow Jesus’ way of helping people, I will learn that the best way to help the multitudes is one person at a time. We can become so carried away with the size of the need that we are paralyzed and really do nothing because we can’t solve the problem. I can’t solve the homeless problem in the world, but I can help one homeless person who is struggling to get the help they need. I can’t solve the problem of all the millions of young people growing up without their dad at home with them. But I can lovingly show interest in one boy or girl that I know that can change their life. Find one that hurts and help them instead of becoming so carried away with the hugeness of the problem and doing nothing.
Jesus way was to refuse to become overwhelmed with the details while allowing the person in need to go on without help. So many of the healing efforts of Jesus took place on the Sabbath Day when people with huge problems came to the Synagogue to worship the Lord. Jesus knew it would bring criticism from the religious leaders if he healed one on that day. But he never allowed the fear of criticism to stop him from doing what needed to be done for the one who was hurting. Did he not care about the Sabbath? Yes, but he knew the Sabbath was made for mankind, not the other way around. When we lose sight of the reasons some things are taught in God’s word and simply focus on the rules we can do more harm that good.
Jesus way was to use the situations and opportunities that arose in day to day life as an opportunity to share with others the knowledge of what God was like and what living for him was like. Most of his lessons weren’t delivered in some formal setting where folks would go to the church or synagogue to hear the preaching of the word. Most of the time it was as a crowd gathered on a hillside, as they walked along the way or as he walked beside the Sea of Galilee. He used a time when he was resting beside the well as an opportunity to tell a hurting Samaritan woman about God and the living water that she could have. He gathered little children into his arms to bless and pray over them. He stopped a funeral to raise the only son of a widowed mother. He healed a woman who had a bleeding problem over a long part of her life. He raised the daughter of a religious leader from the dead. One of the greatest problems it seems to me today for the Christian is that we seem to want to put all our faith and Christianity into the Sunday morning worship meeting. The time to preach, to study the Bible or talk about faith is in this building at this particular time. But the Jesus way is to take advantage of every opportunity that arises to tell another about God and his will for life.
What if we really worked at doing things the Jesus way? What real difference would it make in our life? I think it would make a ton of difference for good.