Question: "What did Jesus mean when He said 'I am the way and the truth and the life' (John 14:6)?"
Answer: “I am the way and the truth and the life” is one of the seven “I Am” statements of Jesus. On the last night before His betrayal and death, Jesus was preparing His disciples for the days ahead. For over three years, these men had been following Jesus and learning from His teaching and example. They had placed their hopes in Him as the Messiah, the promised deliverer, yet they still didn't understand how He was going to accomplish that deliverance. After the Last Supper, Jesus began speaking about His departure, which led to questions from His disciples.
In John 13:33, Jesus said, “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.” This prompted Peter to ask where He was going (v. 36). Peter and the others did not understand that Jesus was speaking of His death and ascension to Heaven. Jesus' response was “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter was still misunderstanding and declared that he would follow Jesus anywhere and even lay His life down if necessary. As Jesus patiently continued to teach His disciples, He began speaking more plainly about heaven, describing the place He was going to prepare for them (John 14:2-3). Then Jesus said “You know the way to the place where I am going” (v. 4). Speaking for the others, Thomas said they did not know where He was going, so how could they know how to follow Him there? It was to this question that Jesus uttered one of the seven famous “I am” statements.
I am – In the Greek language, “I am” is a very intense way of referring to oneself. It would be comparable to saying, “I myself, and only I, am.” Several other times in the Gospels we find Jesus using these words. In Matthew 22:32 Jesus quotes Exodus 3:6, where God uses the same intensive form to say “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” In John 8:58, Jesus said “Truly, truly I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am.” The Jews clearly understood Jesus to be calling Himself God because they took up stones to stone Him for committing blasphemy in equating Himself with God. In Matthew 28:20, as Jesus gave the Great Commission, He gave it emphasis by saying “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” When the soldiers came seeking Jesus in the garden the night before His crucifixion, He told them “I am he” and His words were so powerful that the soldiers fell to the ground (John 18:4-6). These words reflect the very name of God in Hebrew, Yahweh, which means “to be” or “the self-existing one.” It is the name of power and authority, and Jesus claimed it as His own…
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