Jesus said, 'I am the Truth and the Life.'

I am the Way, the Truth and the Life
Wed, 6th September, 2023, 14:45 - Sun, 10th September, 2023, 15:55
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Jesus said, ‘I am the truth and the life’.

It was at Antioch, Luke tells us in the book of Acts, that the disciples were first called ‘Christians’; but that is not, in fact, his preferred term for the members of the new movement. He calls them ‘followers of the Way’. Jesus said, ‘I am the Way’; and, elsewhere, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’ We speak, therefore, of the Way of the Cross: as the cross in the picture casts its distinctive shadow, it marks for us the Way we are to follow. Jesus is the Truth about the Way: and he is also the Truth about the Christian Life.

Do you watch The Repair Shop on television? It always amazes me how much the owners of the various objects care about them, and how they feel that the repair of them somehow brings their loved ones, or their childhood experiences, back to life. When I did my dad’s funeral, one of the things we found among his effects was a tiny diary from when he was about nineteen. Like many of us, he had started to try to keep up daily entries, but didn’t sustain them. I didn’t read any of the daily entries, but the list of phone numbers in the front was revealing.

It was interesting, first, because there were so few of them: certainly neither of my parents’ families, nor any of their friends’ families, had phones in 1938, so these were places you could ring from a phone box. There was the local paper, to which he phoned through his youth club’s Table Tennis results. There was West Bromwich Albion, the football team he supported – though I seriously doubt whether he ever rang them: in these times of tedious online booking, I miss the days when you could just turn up, pay five bob at the turnstile and walk into the ground. Still it was a nice number to have in your diary. Then there was his place of work, and finally, the shoe shop where my mum worked, aged just fifteen. Just that list of numbers brought them to life: it told the truth about where they came from, how early their relationship started, through the youth club, what his hobbies and interests were. That little diary told the truth about their life.

Jesus is the Way, and he is the Truth about the Life. When Philip says to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father and we will be satisfied,’ he answers, ‘Have I been with you so long, Philip, and yet you do not know me? Whoever has seen me, has seen the Father.’ If we are to understand what God is like, then it is at Jesus that we must look. We must begin, as we have begun already in this series of reflections, at the Cross: where the worst that men can do – the worst that I can do – is met by the best that God can do.

At the Cross, we see that our God does not stand apart from the suffering and difficulty of our human condition, nor condemn us when we fail to cope with them, but looks upon us, and upon all that he has created, with the eye of love. Think of looking at someone you love: a partner; a child; a parent. It doesn’t matter what they look like, does it? What matters is that you love them. So it is with God: and it is the Cross, above all, that shows us that his loving gaze is always upon us.

If we are to be faithful to scripture, though, we will also notice that Jesus shows us how angry God can be: indeed we cannot fully understand – perhaps we cannot even receive - the mercy poured out on the Cross, unless we understand how deeply offensive it is to our creator that we can be so merciless to one another. Not for nothing did Jesus make it central to our prayers, that we should ask the Father to forgive us, as we forgive those who trespass against us. In the gospels, what angers Jesus, above all, is anyone’s failure to love one’s neighbours, as God has loved us. Love is His Way, His Truth, His Life. He has made it our Way, our Truth, our Life: and we must live it for Him.