[Jesus said to his disciples:] “You know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”John 14:4-5
I have to admit, Thomas’s question to Jesus makes perfect sense to me. If we don’t know where we are going, how can we possibly know the way? Thomas asks this question shortly before Jesus is arrested and crucified, in response to Jesus telling the disciples that he is going to his Father’s house to prepare a place for them. Jesus assures them that they know the way to where he is going. But as Thomas says, how can they know the way if they don’t even know where he is going?
Thomas’s question reminds me of a hike that I recently went on with my daughter. She had done this hike before, about a year ago, but got lost on the way and never found what she was looking for. When I asked her what she was looking for, she couldn’t remember! Well, I said, if we have no idea what we are looking for, I am pretty sure we won’t find it! And, sure enough, we never did. (Although it was a wonderful hike!)
So, how can we know the way when we don’t even know where we are going? It’s one thing to lose our way in life, and quite another thing to lose our destination! I suspect that we all have had moments in life when we not only feel as though we have lost our way, but are no longer sure of where we are even supposed to be going. We wake up one morning and just feel a little lost. We are no longer sure of our purpose on this earth. And we can’t help but wonder, if we don’t know where we are supposed to go and what we are supposed to do, how can we possibly hope to find our way again?
It is perhaps no accident that Rick Warren’s book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” was (and is) such a tremendous bestseller, because it offers an approach to finding our way again, to figuring out (to quote the book’s subtitle), “What on earth am I here for?” It is the question beating at the heart of most of life’s big questions. And we all want to know the answer. We all want to know the way to a meaningful, significant, and purposeful life. But how do we get there? How can we know the way?
The answer to this question is as amazing as it is simple: we don’t have to know the way. Because we have something even better – we have a reliable guide, who has been to the very place where we are trying to go, and who has returned to guide us there, too. Jesus offers not just to show us the way, but to guide us all along the way. He offers to accompany us through this complicated life, showing us the way that we should travel. And when we feel like we are losing our way, a simple request to him returns us to the path, and to the very reason we are here.
Jesus guides us all along the way. Pretty amazing, right? But Jesus not only offers to show us the way, he tells us that he is the way. His famous answer to Thomas’s question is:
I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.John 14:6
Jesus is the way. And there is no other way to the Father except through him. These are wonderful, comforting words to us as his followers, that unfortunately have more often been used as a warning to non-Christians. But I think it is very important to remember that these words are spoken to his disciples, to his followers. I do not think that these words are meant to serve as a warning to non-Christians, so much as they are meant to be a comfort to his followers. The way to where we are going is through Jesus. That is all that his disciples need to know, and that is all that we need to know.
How can we know the way? Jesus is the way. Which means that all we ever have to do in this life is cling to Jesus. Take his hand, and don’t let go, like a child being led through a crowded train station. We don’t have to know which train we are looking for, or which platform, or whether we have the right ticket, or anything else about this journey. All we have to do is hold onto this loving person who knows exactly where we are going.
Because Jesus is our way, we don’t even have to know what on earth we are here for. We don’t have to figure out our purpose, or our path. Jesus promises to be our way, and to guide us on our path. All we have to do is trust him, and stay connected to him. Cling to Jesus, and he will show us, in his time, why we are here. He will guide us all along the way. Until we arrive at the place he prepared for us. That is our destination, and Jesus is our way. Thanks be to God!
This is another in my series exploring scripture’s most compelling questions. I share more about this series here: What Are Scripture’s Most Compelling Questions?