Jesus said, 'I am the Way.'

I am the Way, the Truth and the Life
Wed, 6th September, 2023, 14:10 - 14:50
Service Type

Jesus said, I am the Way’

When I was studying for my MPhil, my supervisor made a marginal note on a draft I’d written: ‘The reference to AYLI is fascinating.’ It was a bit of a puzzle: I hadn’t written anything about Ayli.

I should explain that where I come from, classic two-hander jokes - the kind of joke that used to be told about two Irishmen, Pat and Mike - are told about two characters called Enoch and Eli: two typical Old Testament Black Country names. To assist ‘furriners’ with Black Country pronunciation, these names are sometimes spelled ‘Aynuk’ and ‘Ayli’. But there weren’t any Black Country jokes in my draft. It took me a while to work out that AYLI is the Shakespeare Studies shorthand for As You Like It. My supervisor and I would have to learn each other’s languages.

So, one day, Aynuk says to Ayli, ‘’Ow do I get to Cradley ‘eath from ‘ere?’

And there’s a pause; and the pause becomes a silence;

until eventually Ayli scratches his head and says,

‘If I was gooin’ to Cradley ‘eath, I wouldn’t start from ‘ere.’


Jesus said, ‘I am the Way’. I am the Way? Jesus is the Way? The son of a carpenter, from the despised northern end of a despised marginal colony, at the eastern edge of the Roman empire, is the Way? If a north country carpenter is the Way, where on earth are we going? ‘On any reading,’ said my old teacher, Arthur Moore, ‘God is not a north country carpenter.’ ‘Jesus is the answer!’ sang the great gospel songwriter Andrae Crouch, but how can a north country carpenter be the answer? And if he is, what’s the question? Besides, everyone knows the answer is 42. How can Jesus be the Way? If I was going to Cradley Heath, I wouldn’t start from here.

There is so much about the Christian life that can only be perceived by the eye of faith. This is the world turned upside down; a world that is not as it appears to be: a kingdom where the meek, rather than the aggressive, shall inherit the earth; a world were those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be satisfied, rather than perpetually disappointed; a world where the peacemakers, rather than the empire-builders, will be called the children of God; a world where those who mourn will be comforted.

A world, in short, where a north country carpenter might, after all, be the Way. A north country carpenter nailed to a rugged cross with nails fashioned by his own stubborn willingness to love. It all depends which side of the cross you look at.  Look at the cross in the picture, one side brilliantly illuminated, the other cast deep in shadow, and casting its shadow further still.  Look at the dark side and you will only see all the human weakness that took him there: the fear of the disciples; the treachery of Judas; the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, the paranoid collaboration of the Sanhedrin with imperialist violence of the Roman Empire. Look at the dark side of the cross, in short, and you will see a world that is merely a mirror of your sinful self – my sinful self.

But ‘consider Him, that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself’: look, instead at the light of love shining in the face and figure of the Saviour on the cross and, with the eye of faith – only with the eye of faith – you will see the world as He sees it. He sees a world that is worth His sacrifice and worthy of His love. We don’t know why; but our faith is that the real world is not the world as you or I see it, but the world as he does. And He looks at it – He looks at you ­- with the eye of love. He is the Way:

He’s so high, you can’t get over Him;

He’s so low, you can’t get under Him;

He’s so wide, you can’t get round Him:

You must come in by and through the Lamb.