“I am the way.” We who are Christians cling tenaciously to those words from Jesus. What do they mean? Did Jesus have an ego problem? If you or I made such a claim, someone might rightly say we have issues. Are these words intended to mean we are accepted by God only if we claim and say a name, sacred as it is? Does this mean we must believe “right” and profess “correctly” that dear name or else? Did the writer who penned those words understand them as a doctrinal stance which, if not properly confessed, means we’re out the door and away from God’s favor? It’s good to remember that doctrines have, through the years, been piled high on top of the raw and real Jesus event. Some prayerful digging is needed to get back to the bottom of those piles. More importantly, real spiritual listening is required if we’re to hear the “still small voice” of God speaking to us from that time to this. So we might need to lay down our books and knowledge (for awhile at least) to chance hearing the Spirit say something new and fresh to us in our day. Be warned, however. Such an approach could threaten some of our well packaged faith beliefs. Well meaning folks might push back and scold us for heresy. Digging under the dogma pile to listen to the Spirit’s voice has the potential to challenge our comfort zones, but it’s well worth the ride.
Now that I’ve dug my own hole, let’s get back to the question. What does it mean to hear Jesus say “I am the way?” Could it mean the way of Jesus is the way? Is there more to this than simply naming a name and demanding everyone do so or else? Doesn’t that exclude lots of folks, and isn’t God about including everybody, like Jesus did? I seem to remember reading somewhere that Jesus said; “follow me.” Is that not an invitation to go where he goes doing what he does? Are we being welcomed to adopt Jesus’ way of walking with God as our way? I think so. In other words, his way is the way.
What was and is the Jesus way? The basic picture is clear, though discerning the profound meanings of it all requires continued listening to that “still small voice.” The way of Jesus is the way of love. Read the story with ears to hear. Do so following him to the cross and experience a resurrection. Take note of all that happens along the way. He embraces the “least of these,” feeds the hungry, cares for the oppressed and marginalized, challenges oppressors to see truth, teaches the spiritually hungry, heals the sick, and offers the rich something money cannot buy. Of course, those most threatened by such love pushed back and placed him on death’s cross. From there we hear; “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The next piece of news is; “He is risen!” After that, those who had followed the way had new life as well. If we’ll open the doors and windows of our comfort zones and listen, we just might hear a voice whisper; “follow me.” His way is the way. There’s no need to beat others over the head with the name. He didn’t. In fact, there were times he gave his followers explicit instructions to not to say anything at all about his doings. Christ does not have an ego problem and neither does God. Learning to follow the way is a lifetime experience of never arriving. That means we’re always on the way. Who knows, as we travel the crowd may grow and include others who are looking for a way. When that happens, all us are enriched. Such is the way of the way.