Who is the antichrist? We ask the question for different reasons. Some of us have a fixation on end times guessing games and have come to associate “the Antichrist” with the end of the world. But John tells us in 1 John 2 that, sadly, antichrists are much more common than that. Antichrists are those who deny Christ. He tells us this in a passage that calls us to recognize the lie and to remain in the truth. As we prepare to go there this Sunday, let us look at John’s gospel account and his description of the work of Christ.
Wednesday, February 12
Larger Portion of Scripture - John 14
Focused Passage for Reflection - John 14:1-7
Reflecting on the Text:
How does John 14:6 strike you? Maybe that seems like an odd question, but I ask it for a reason. Do you know those pictures which, depending on your perspective, can be one of two objects? They are called "ambiguous images." From one perspective the image you see appears to be a flower vase. From another, it is the outline of two men’s faces. Or, from one perspective it is a picture of a young attractive maiden. From another, it is a picture of an elderly woman. Which is it? From one perspective we see one image, from another we see something very different. Yet both images are present in the same picture.
So what does this have to do with John 14:6? Again I ask…Upon reading the verse, what was your first impression? Did you see a gracious invitation? Or, did you see exclusion? The truth is, they are both there, but some will only see one or the other.
If I have lost you with all of this rambling, let me ask another question. Is Jesus the only way to salvation? Our intellectual response to that question says much about the way we view Jesus Christ, and about the way we view Scripture. Our emotional response to that question says much about the way we view the grace of Jesus Christ.
Our focus in this passage goes directly to verse 6, but the text doesn’t begin there. Jesus opened with tender encouragement. “Let not your hearts be troubled.” He is preparing His closest friends for His imminent departure by telling them that it will be purposeful. He is leaving to prepare a place so that He can come back to get them (and us).
At that point, Thomas enters the picture. He may be most well known for his doubting, but I have come to love him for his honesty. Here, he essentially says, “We don’t have any idea where you are going so how are we supposed to know the way?!?” Think about that. By this time Jesus has clearly told the disciples three times that He will suffer, die, and be resurrected. But they don’t get it. And now, on the night He will be arrested, Thomas tells Jesus that he still doesn’t know where He is going.
Jesus hears it all but He does not respond with rebuke. He responds with the gospel. The way is not a pathway for the disciples to follow. The way is a Person. The way is Jesus. He is the truth. He is the life. His words are a gracious invitation to men who have struggled to keep up with the conversation. His words are also exclusionary. That Jesus is THE way means there is no other way. Jesus alone is the way to the Father. And this way will be paved with His death.
So yet again I ask you…how does John 14:6 strike you? Do you see an invitation, or do you see exclusion? Both are there, but even in the exclusion, there is grace because apart from Jesus there would be NO way. Yet in Him, we have THE way.
Jesus meant to comfort His friends. He meant to display for them the heart of the Father (v. 7). He does the same for us, but are we listening? What we hear in John 14:6 will tell us what it is that we are actually listening for…our own personal definition of salvation or true reconciliation with God the Father. Either way, in one sentence Jesus invites and excludes. And it is all of grace.
Questions for personal reflection:
How do you respond to the question, “Is Jesus the only way?”
If you have been searching for the answer to this question, will you be willing to look to Scripture for your answer?