"Thomas said to him, 'Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?' Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him'" (John 14:5-7)
Sitting on the floor upstairs in my apartment in Galway, Ireland with a latte warming my hands on the chilly Spring day, I sat with papers strewn across my bed studying for an exam.
One of my American housemates burst through the door to my room venting about a conversation she had had with one of our professors. We were leading school retreats in Ireland, and part of the retreat allowed us to share our testimonies with hundreds of Irish students.
When she went to practice her speech with our professor, he had asked her to change some of her language. He wanted to be cautious that we didn't offend anyone, and I remember her standing in my room exclaiming,
"But Jesus is offensive!"
This was the first time I heard someone say "Jesus is offensive," and as I read over my Bible and considered my own experiences I realized she was right.
Offensive wasn't my first word that I would pick when describing Jesus, but now, it resonates so deeply for me. Jesus is offensive, and here, more than any other introduction Jesus gave for Himself, I see that. He says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."
Back to his other introduction, "I am the light of the world," Jesus was claiming to be the light. There was no suggestion that there was more than one, it was just Him. He was the only light.
I see that same pattern in this introduction where Jesus claims to be the way, the truth, and the life. This is offensive, not because He is all of those things, but because He is claiming to be the only way, the only truth, and the only life.
It's offensive, because we cannot have life without Jesus.
It's not life. We cannot know God without Jesus. He said, "No one comes to the Father except through me," and I believe He meant every word.
In our age of "owning your truth" where it seems we have more than one, and where people believe there is lots of grey area in Christianity, and in an age where we fully embrace the grace of the gospel but often turn away from the judgement of it, we don't often want this message.
It's counter cultural to us, and it's offensive.
Honestly, it's a message I even hesitate around at times. I recently heard a pastor who I admire teaching and when he should have said hell he said, "somewhere else." I don't know if he intended to or not, but I couldn't help but wonder if there was a small part of him that was afraid to offend someone in the room.
Heaven and hell is offensive. Death and life is offensive. Jesus being the way, the truth and the life, and the fact that there is no other option to know and see the Father is offensive.
But there isn't an in between.
Back in my apartment in Galway, I was siding with my friend in the debate with our professor. We sat on my floor together and talked and prayed about how we would preach and teach the gospel when we felt like we had to water it down.
I still have handwritten notes somewhere in my house from the secondary school age girls in Ireland who I told my story too. I still remember their faces, and I remember laughing and crying with them. Some of them still follow me on Instagram, and I still remember the girl who sent me a message with a picture of a cross necklace after the retreat with a simple, "thank you."
When I remember how I felt toward those girls, those faces, I'm not afraid of offending them. I actually think it would be unfair not to.
Not because I want them to be offended, but because I genuinely love them and I know the Father does to. He isn't motivated by offense, and neither are we. He's motivated by love, and sometimes, love is willing to take the risk of offense in order to tell the truth.
Here is the truth: Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. If you really know Him, you know the Father too. (John 14:5-7)
-Have you ever thought of Jesus as offensive? Why or why not?
-Do you worry about offending someone when sharing the gospel?
-What questions, thoughts, or emotions come up when you think about Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life?
Think of someone in your life who doesn't know God. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Himself to them and pray for that person specifically every day this week.
Jesus, thank you for being willing to steward a difficult message when you came to us out of your love for us. Help us to become willing steward of the same message. Help us to love your people with the same kindness and passion you demonstrated, not to stir up disunity or to prove a point, but to direct them to the Father through you because we fully believe there is no other way. Amen.