Pulpit Today Sermons
Who is Jesus Christ?
Robert D. Pace
(Illustration) A Pastor and Deacon were standing by the road holding a sign that read, “The End is Near! Turn Back Now!” One car after another rejected the warning and raced past them. After about 30 minutes of being ignored, they ran down the road and found that twenty cars had splashed into the river. The Pastor turned to the Deacon and said, “Maybe we should just say, “Warning, the Bridge is Out”!”
The Pastor and Deacon spoke the truth, but they could have done a better job communicating it. On the other hand, Jesus never failed to clearly communicate the truth. And I want to examine one statement Jesus made about Himself in John 14:6. Let’s read our text:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life;
no one comes to the Father except through me.”
The most influential and dominant figure of human history is Jesus Christ. He is without equal in character, creed, and deeds. No one has lived, loved, or died the way Jesus did. There are more than 2.1 billion people that claim adherence to Christianity and the next closest religion (Islam) is about 1 billion adherents smaller.
Even the symbol that that represents Christianity is widely known. The cross is the most recognized symbol in the world. Churches display the cross to signify that it’s man’s means of salvation. People wear crosses as jewelry and decorate homes with them. Each time you see the cross it represents the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made at His death. With such a massive following it is imperative to understand who Jesus is. What makes Him preeminent to others? What makes His teachings superior?
(Transition) As we investigate the Lord Jesus Christ, let’s allow His testimony to answer the question. In our Scripture text Jesus said, “I Am the way, the truth, and the life.” I want to examine each of these three assertions and see what Jesus meant. First, Jesus said, “I Am the Way.”
I. “I Am the Way”
When Jesus identified Himself and declared His mission to save the world, He spoke with more love and compassion than any other man. And yet, His proclamation here in John 14:6 is one of the most controversial statements He ever made.
It offends people to hear there is but one path to God and there is an exclusive way of salvation. Our generation wants to believe that many roads lead to God. We live in an age where Moral Relativism prevails and people think all religions are basically the same and each has a measure of truth. So it sounds arrogant and even intolerant for Jesus to proclaim that He is the only way of salvation and has the corner on truth. Think about it. John 14:6 simply sends hackles down the spine of many people. How dare someone say he is “the way, the truth, and the life.” That’s provocative. But offensive as it seems, this is the most valuable piece of information available to man. In fact, it is indispensable! When Jesus uttered John 14:6 He wanted us to understand that all religions were not equally valid and they didn’t all lead to God! Solomon said, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12).
(Example) Human wisdom teaches us that it is impossible for all religions, which are so divergent in their teachings, to represent truth and point people to heaven. And it’s intellectually dishonest to think otherwise. That’s because truth is exclusive! Truth has always been exclusive and always will be. Two plus two equals four! This mathematical equation has always equaled four and it always will equal four. When you state an absolute truth you categorically strike down the opposite objection. It is impossible for truth to remain the truth and yet make compromises to its veracity.
(Illustration) I have personal, firsthand knowledge that demonstrates how truth makes exclusive claims in life. That’s because it took me three semesters to complete my college mathematics course. (I’m joking, it only took two semesters!) The professor would lecture and after several days test us on his lectures. Despite my well-intentioned attempts to answer the equations, the professor wouldn’t accept my wrong answers and pass me until I answered correctly. You know what this experience suggests? There are unbending truths that exist in the realm of mathematics. And for those truths to remain true they cannot consent to falsehood—under any circumstance!
This principle applies to other sciences too! The laws of the universe cannot yield to pretense without disintegrating. And this applies to God’s plan of salvation for man. God sent Jesus into the world as man’s exclusive means of salvation. The Bible tells us there is no other means of finding peace and favor with God except through Christ. This isn’t so because Christians are arrogant and insensitive—we didn’t contrive this reasoning. This is what Jesus said.
Jesus didn’t call Christians to strut around and act cocky about it. It doesn’t make us better than others. But it does make us impose the teachings of Christ and the Bible upon anyone! We don’t threaten or force people outside the Christian Faith to accept Christ. Certain religions today torture and kill people that won’t convert to their ideology, but this isn’t what Christianity does. God called Christians to use compassion and mercy to persuade sinners to come to Christ. He called us to ‘speak the truth in love.’ But even then our best efforts will offend people. And that’s because Satan hates the truth. The world has always scoffed and attacked the truth.
The Holy Spirit did not inspire the writers of Scripture to pen divine truths in a politically correct manner. They weren’t even written to make men feel good. The Bible was written to point people to God and rescue them from eternity without God. Today’s messengers of God’s love should never concede to the world’s demand for pluralism, which states that all religions are equally valid. God’s love doesn’t compromise the Truth; because when that happens, the entire Message is damaged.
(Transition) But Jesus not only said He was the way that leads to God, He also said, “I Am the truth.”
II. “I Am the Truth”
Once again, Jesus made an exclusive statement when He said, “I Am the truth.” He didn’t say that He represented the truth or that He knew how to obtain it; Jesus said He was the truth! That meant He fully embodied truth! He is the essential nature of truth. There is no lack or tarnish of truth with Christ; He is truth in all its glory!
But there is something yet deeper that Jesus inferred when He said, “I Am the truth.” He was actually proclaiming His equality with God! Here is why. Throughout the Bible the writers call the Lord, “the God of truth” (Psalm 31:5; Isaiah 65:16) or they say, “God is true” (John 3:33; 2 Corinthians 1:18). Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man that he should lie,” and Hebrews 6:18 says, “it is impossible for God to lie.”
The Bible inextricably links God with truth. So when Jesus said, “I Am the truth,” He was declaring Himself to be God. It is not coincidental that when Jesus stood in the Judgment Hall that Pilate asked Him, “What is truth?” Remember why the Jews prosecuted and crucified Him. It was because He claimed to be the Son of God. And Jesus accepted their accusation without denial. He willingly went to Calvary accepting the sentence that He was the Son of God—the predicted Messiah. When you follow Christ through the Gospels you see that He acknowledged the divine titles that everyone ascribed to Him.
John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” And Jesus accepted John’s testimony.
At Caesarea Philippi Jesus asked the apostles, “Who do people say that I, the Son of Man, am?” Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said, “Peter, the Heavenly Father has revealed this to you.”
The Woman at the Well looked at Christ and declared, “I know the Messiah has come”! And Jesus responded by saying, ‘I that speak unto you am He.”
The Apostle John said Jesus was the Creator and the “Word made Flesh.” Jesus never repudiated that.
And after the Resurrection Thomas fell at His feet and said, “My Lord and My God.” Jesus accepted this affirmation of Thomas.
From the time Nathaniel called Christ the “Son of God” at the start of His ministry, to the day Christ died on the Cross with the words, “King of the Jews” posted above His head, He never once denied His divinity!
But what proof do we have for believing this statement that Jesus made? How do we know that He really is “the way, the truth, and the Life”—especially since there are other religions that claim to possess the truth? If the Bible says Christians should be willing to become martyrs for Christ, we need some verifiable reasons for doing so. Nobody wants to die for a lie!
(Transition) I want to give you three reasons that you can stake your life on the claims that Christ made about Himself:
1. First, Jesus fulfilled dozens of ancient OT prophecies that identified the Messiah. The writings of the OT were completed and separated 400 years before Christ was born and the NT writings began. Why do you suppose there was this 400 year gap between the Old and New Testaments?
One reason God closed the writing of Old Testament Scripture that far in advance is so no imposter could engineer prophecies that would make Him out as the Messiah. Jesus fulfilled ancient prophecies, not a few quickly contrived prophecies that His disciples inserted at the time of His appearance.
So with the Old Testament completed four centuries prior to Christ’s birth, the Old Testament issues over sixty prophecies to identify the one true Savior of the world. And when you calculate the probability of Jesus of Nazareth fulfilling each of these prophecies the probability is astronomical!
(Illustration) Peter Stoner wrote in his book, Science Speaks, that the odds of Jesus fulfilling just eight Old Testament Messianic prophecies would be 1 in 10 to the 17th power (Chicago: Moody Press, 1963). Josh McDowell, who wrote Evidence that Demands a Verdict, illustrated that number this way. Imagine the state of Texas covered with silver dollars two feet thick. You could then mark and bury one silver dollar into that sea of coins, blindfold somebody, and tell them to select that one marked coin on their first attempt. That would be the probability of one man fulfilling by chance just eight of the Old Testament prophecies that Christ fulfilled.
And the probability of one person fulfilling forty-eight Old Testament prophecies by chance, jumps to 1 in 10 to the 157th power. An unimaginable figure! But Jesus, “the way, the truth, and the life,” fulfilled every Old Testament prophecy that pertained to His appearing. And that helps me accept what Jesus said about Himself.
What if the Bible had recorded no ancient prophecies to unveil what the Messiah would look like? What if we had to accept our Savior by “blind faith”? It would actually be “no faith” at all! But the Old Testament gave us numerous glimpses into the nature of the Messiah. It predicted His birthplace; His genealogy, His life, His manner of death, and His resurrection. Etc.
(Transition) But that’s not all. There is another reason you can believe that Jesus is the true Son of God.
2. The miracles that Jesus performed testified that He was God’s true and faithful Son. In John 10 the Jews gathered around Jesus and said: “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” (25) Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me” (24).
Notice that last phrase that Jesus uttered: “The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me.” Jesus said that every time He healed a sick person, calmed a storm, or worked a miracle it was the Father’s seal of approval on all He claimed to be. There is no way that our Heavenly Father would permit an imposter to come along and fulfill the prophecy of Deuteronomy 18:15 of the Messiah being a miracle-worker without stopping Him. But Jesus was no imposter and that’s why God commissioned Him to perform more miracles than anyone else in the Bible.
(Transition) But it doesn’t stop there either! There is a third, and vitally important reason you can trust what Jesus said about Himself.
3. Jesus predicted that God would raise Him from the dead three days after His crucifixion. And more than 500 eyewitnesses claimed to see Him after His Resurrection! The Bible fully validates every claim Jesus made about Himself to be true! And no other religion of the world can make this claim.
There are no ancient prophecies or repetitive miracles or resurrection from the dead that can be associated with any other Messiah besides Jesus Christ of Nazareth. None! The evidence the Bible furnishes for Christ as man’s Messiah is overwhelming! It’s something you can stake your life on! Furthermore, how can it possibly be “arrogant” to accept the evidence the Bible furnishes for Christ’s claims? It only makes sense to acknowledge what Jesus said about Himself. Jesus has to be “the way, the truth, and the life.”
(Transition) Now let’s investigate what Jesus meant when He said, “I Am the Life.”
III. “I Am the Life”
Think about the impact of this statement. He begins by saying, “I Am the way,” which offends most people outside Christianity. Then He says, “I Am the truth.” And that means He is the truth at the expense of all others, and that is definitely offensive! But now Jesus says, “I Am the life.”
Once again, Jesus equates Himself with God the Father and there is no way this statement can be minimized! Of the many things we know about God, we are certain about this: God is life. He has existed from eternity past and will exist through eternity future. As the Source of Life itself He never diminishes.
But there is more. When God testifies to be “the life” it means He imparts life to whomever He wills. He creates and sustains life for all men that believe on His Name. Man can’t say that. Our greatest enemy is death. We fear the erosion of our cell structure. We lurch for pharmaceuticals that stave off sickness and strengthen us. We shrink in the face of death. But not God! Death is no threat to Him. That’s why Jesus repeatedly told His Apostles that nobody could take life from Him. He said He would go to the Cross and willingly sacrifice Himself. The beating, the scourging, and the nails tortured His flesh, but in the end He voluntarily “gave up His life.”
This is important to understand. It’s important because the true Savior of the world had to reclaim what Adam forfeited. And the great forfeiture of Adam was life.
God warned Adam in the Garden of Eden that his disobedience would bring death. And that’s what happened when Adam ate the forbidden fruit. Man’s spirit and soul immediately died and then, after 930 years, Adam’s flesh died. And Adam transmitted death to all humanity.
Paul said in Ephesians 2, and Colossians 2, that we are “dead in our sins.” That means there is a part of us, from birth, that is without life. At the core of our being we are dead before God. That is why Jesus told Nicodemus—a PhD and Professor of Religion—that He had to be “born again” (John 4).
Nicodemus was dead and the most significant part of him needed regenerating and brought back to life, and only Jesus, who is life itself, could do that. That’s what it means to be “born again”—it means you come to life. And this is so important that Jesus said you “cannot see the kingdom of God unless you are born again.”
You see, dead men don’t go to heaven. Dead men are consigned to the place the Bible calls the “second death,” which is the Lake of Fire. Those who are “Born Again” have been made alive and inherit “eternal life,” which is heaven. This is why Jesus didn’t come as a moralist to improve wicked men; He came as a Savior to raise the dead!
Jesus—the “Resurrection and the Life”
I love what Jesus told Mary and Martha when He stood outside the tomb of their brother Lazarus. He said, “I Am the Resurrection and the Life.” Think about that. As “the Resurrection” nobody remained dead in His presence. As “the Life” nobody could die in His presence.
Jesus approached the funeral of the widow’s son, touched the coffin, and the boy immediately jumped out of the casket! Jesus is “the Resurrection”!
When Jesus was crucified with the two thieves beside Him, they could not die so long as Jesus remained alive and in their presence. Jesus is “the Life”!
But He is more than the life. Jesus is “the Resurrection and the Life.”
(Transition) I want to stress once again—men need a Savior. We need Him who said, “I Am the way, the truth, and the life.” Jesus is man’s only hope and means of salvation.
Let me tell you something about the Christian Faith. Grace is the crucial doctrine that separates Christianity from all other religions. Christianity is founded on Christ’s free gift of salvation that comes apart from any human achievement. Romans says, “By grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
Every religion apart from Christianity, without exception, is based on man striving to earn salvation. They teach that salvation is earned by observing rules or through structured prayer or by the purification of reincarnation. But dead men, practicing dead works, could never produce salvation. That’s why Jesus stepped in and took our place. Christ alone is our life-giving path to God. Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life.”