A few weeks ago during the Scripture reading in church I was captivated by one of the verses read. It captured my thoughts to such an extent that I had a difficult time concentrating on the sermon. The words of the verse resonated in a deep place in my heart.
The verse was John 14:5. In verses 1-3, Jesus is talking about going to prepare a place for the disciples in his Father’s house, a place where they will always be with him. Verse 5 is Thomas’s response to Jesus’ words in verse 4 where Jesus says, “And you know where I am going and how to get there” (NLT). In his candid frustration, Thomas bursts out with this reaction: “‘No, we don’t know, Lord,’ Thomas said. “We haven’t any idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?’” Thomas sincerely desired to follow Jesus and to be with Jesus wherever Jesus was going. But he was confused about where Jesus was headed and incredulous that Jesus thought that the disciples were clear on Jesus’ plan and direction. Thomas wasn’t being disrespectful or irreverent; he was being straightforward and honest.
Have you ever felt like you had no idea where Jesus was going, even though you genuinely desired to follow his lead and guidance? I sure have! And if we don’t know the destination Jesus has in mind, how could we possibly know the way to get there? When I set out to go somewhere unfamiliar, I like to have the exact address and my specific directions from Google Maps. I don’t have a GPS in my car, but a voice giving me clear, step-by-step guidance as I travelled toward my preprogrammed destination would be even better. I am not one who enjoys the adventure of driving around uncertainly, hoping to end up in the right place.
Jesus’ response in verse 6, however, provides a crucial perspective. He says, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” The way, then, is not a route traced out by Google Maps or a set of directions delivered by a disembodied voice on a GPS. Rather Jesus himself is the way. And the destination is not an exact location or a specific place. The destination is also a person—the Father.
Letting go of the desire to know precisely where Jesus is leading me and how we are going to get there is difficult. Approaching an intersection of life without knowing in advance whether I should be in the right-turn lane or the left-turn lane or the straight-ahead lane is uncomfortable, to say the least. And yet if I am focused on being with Jesus, how could I possibly end up in the wrong place or on the wrong road, having missed a turn? Jesus himself is the way and if I just stick tenaciously by his side, moment by moment, I will always be with him where he is. And together we will end up in the presence of the Father.