I Am the Way by Joel Smith

"I am the way... no one comes to the Father, but by me..." -Jesus in John 14:6 (RSV)

Is Jesus the only way to get to heaven? Is Jesus the only way to get to God? This is what many Christians think. When Jesus said "I am the way... no one comes to the Father, but by me" what was he saying? Who was Jesus? What was his relationship with God? Was Jesus God? Or did Jesus speak the words of God?

One day Jesus was talking to his disciples. He told them: "In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." 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 (highway) and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."  -John 14
The word that is translated here as "way" comes from the original Greek word HODOS. The word HODOS means "road" or "highway". In other words Jesus was claiming that he is the true road or highway that leads to "my Father's house." What was Jesus saying in this passage? Was he saying that he personally was the only possible way to get to God? We know that God had certainly sent other Prophets in the past. Hebrews 1:1, for example, speaks of:
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son (Jesus)."

Can anyone doubt that Abraham, Moses and all the other Hebrew Prophets weren't also from God... that they too "at sundry times and in divers manners" didn't also lead people to God and that they too were also part of this "highway" process of the Covenant? Of course not.

Jesus DID say that he was the "highway" that leads to God. At the same time Jesus also clearly identified himself with the other Prophets who had appeared before his time. And he also prophesied that there was still yet more to come when he foretold the future appearance of his Father's Kingdom on earth at a time when all things will be made new.

Jesus also made a number of other "I am" statements. For example, Jesus claimed to be bread (John 6:35), living bread (John 6:51)light (John 8:12 & 9:5), a door (John 10:7 & 10:9), a shepherd (John 10:11), resurrection (John 11:25), a vine (John 15:1), the first & the last (Revelation 1:11) and a root (Revelation 22:16).
Jesus was also called the Anointed or the Anointing (Greek: Christ) and he was called the Son of God. He called himself the Son of Man. And he also was referred to as the Representation of God (Greek: Logos) and the Presence (Greek: Parousia).

Again, what was Jesus saying when he said things like these? Certainly no one would claim that Jesus was a literal loaf of bread, or that he literally was a door or that he literally was light or that he literally was a root. Evidently such statements have inner, spiritual meanings. This brings up a question that people have been asking for two thousand years. Who was Jesus? Is Jesus personally the only way for people to get to God? Is Jesus the only way to heaven? Was Jesus God as many Christians today think? Who did Jesus claim to be? What do the New Testament writings say about who Jesus was?

Many Christians today point to Jesus' assertion that "I and my Father are one..." (John 10:30)   and "he that hath seen me hath seen the Father..." (John 14:9)   as evidence that Jesus was God.

The Apostle Paul, writing about Jesus, said that: "God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."  -1 Timothy 3:16

In John 10:38 Jesus claimed that "that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him." And in Colossians 2:9 Paul further asserted that: "For in him (Jesus) dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."

From these passages we can conclude that "God was manifest in the flesh" of Jesus, that in Jesus dwelled "all the fullness of the Godhead bodily", that God was in Jesus and that Jesus was in God, that Jesus was one with God and that whoever had seen Jesus had also seen God. This is pretty compelling evidence that Jesus personally was God.... except for that fact that Jesus also said that "my Father is greater than I..."  -John 14:28

How can Jesus be God if God is greater than Jesus?

Jesus himself defined his relationship to God. Jesus said: "the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me..."-John 14:11

"For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak."   -John 12:49

When all of these "who do you say that I am" statements are viewed from the perspective of this additional evidence we can get a much clearer picture of Jesus' true relationship to God.

According to these statements... God manifested himself to Jesus. God dwelled in Jesus. God was in Jesus and Jesus was in God. Jesus was one with God. Whoever had seen Jesus had also seen God. At the same time, Jesus is not God since God is greater than Jesus. The God part that dwelled in Jesus is the part that was doing the speaking and the mouth of Jesus spoke only the words that God gave to him to speak.

These are difficult concepts to try to get a relatively uneducated, unsophisticated audience of two thousand years ago to grasp. It's not too difficult to see how such relationships could be misunderstood. At the same time, this explanation of Jesus' relationship to God makes other difficult passages in the New Testament make perfect sense.

For example, at one time Jesus said:

"I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh" -John 6:51

This statement is essentially the same as Jesus' "highway" statement. Jesus is the highway to God... and anyone who eats the flesh of Jesus "shall live for ever."

Ask yourself, when Jesus said that anyone who eats "my flesh" "shall live forever"... was he suggesting that people eat his literal flesh? Of course not. Was he speaking of rituals, priests or sacraments? No. Instead, Jesus was speaking of inner spiritual qualities that his followers who had internalized his true teachings will manifest to others. This is what he meant when Jesus spoke of leading people along the path to God and transforming their lives. In none of these passages was Jesus speaking literally.

A little further along in John 6 Jesus also claims: "I have come down from heaven..."

When a number of rabbis, present in the crowd that day, heard Jesus claim that he had come down from heaven, they "began to grumble about him" and they asked "is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?' How can he now say, "I came down from heaven"?

Good question.

The rabbis knew that Jesus had been born as a child just like everyone else. They knew that he had a mother and a father. So it's not surprising that they would have wondered, "How could Jesus possibly have come 'down from heaven'"?

The same was true of Jesus' disciples. When they heard Jesus' claim that he had come "down from heaven" they were shocked into disbelief. They knew that Jesus' claim couldn't possibly be true... at least not literally. They said:

"This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?... From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him." -John 6: 41,60,66 (NIV)

Most people today know that Jesus had twelve Apostles... but, many don't know that Jesus also had either 70 or 72 disciples (depending on which early manuscript you read). Evidently it was these other disciples and not his Apostles who "turned back and no longer followed him." It was these other disciples who abandoned him forever.

Both the antagonistic Jewish religious leaders and Jesus' own beloved disciples found it impossible to believe his statement that he had come down from heaven. From what they knew of Jesus' life, growing up in Nazareth with his mother Mary, they knew that this couldn't possibly be true... because they thought that he was speaking literally. They thought that Jesus was telling them that he had come down from heaven in his fleshly, physical body.

The disciples didn't have the insight to see what Jesus was really saying. They didn't understand. And as Jesus stood there watching his disciples walk away, knowing that they were not going to ever come back, he proceeded to explain this "mystery" of His coming down from heaven.

Jesus said:

"The Spirit (PNEUMA) gives life, the flesh (SARX) counts for nothing: The words I have spoken to you are spirit (PNEUMA) and they are life." -John 6:63 (NIV)

"The words I have spoken to you are spirit..."

Jesus was trying to explain that when he said such startling things as "I came down from heaven", he was not speaking of his own personal, physical, fleshly body coming down from heaven. Instead, Jesus was trying to tell us that it was the "Spirit" of God which dwelled in him that had descended from heaven... and not his physical body.

The body of Jesus did not literally descend from heaven two thousand years ago. The Spirit of God that spoke through Jesus did. Jesus was not literally a highway, but those who hearkened to the words of God which flowed from his mouth were led to God. Jesus was not literally bread and he was not suggesting that people eat his literal body. Jesus was not literally light, a door, a vine or a root or a star.

Jesus was, at the time that these Bible letters were written, the most recent in a long progression of Teachers sent to deliver a Message from God. Each one of these Teachers spoke the words of God. Jesus was the "way". So was Moses and all the other Prophets of God. Jesus was the Christ ("the one who is Anointed by God" in Greek). Jesus was the Messiah (also "the one who is Anointed by God"... this time in the Hebrew). This Anointing was another way of saying that God dwelled in Jesus and that God spoke through Jesus. This Anointing also spoke, in varying degrees, through all the other Prophets of God who also spoke the words of God.

From age to age throughout history many Prophets appeared who have been sent to bring God's message to humanity. But there has been only one Christ. There has been only one Anointing Spirit of God. This Anointing (Christ) is "the Way, the Truth and the Life". This Anointing (Christ) is the only way to the Father. It is the Anointing (Christ) who is "the same yesterday, today and forever".

Baha'is don't deny the absolute uniqueness of Jesus or His status as the One Way to God. Baha'u'llah does not replace Christ or succeed Christ. Rather, Baha'u'llah is "Christ (the Anointing) returned in the Glory of the Father." There is only one Anointing Spirit of God (the Christ). This Christ was manifest equally in Jesus, in the Prophets who appeared before Jesus and it also was manifest in Baha'u'llah. Baha'u'llah describes himself as the "Best Beloved" in a "new attire" who has come with a "new name".

Today we have the identical situation
that we had 2000 years ago.

Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Baha'i Faith, explicitly claims to be the fulfillment of the 'return of Christ from heaven' prophecies. Could Baha'u'llah's claims actually be true? Ask yourself, did Baha'u'llah come down from heaven? Yes! In exactly the same way that John the Baptist and Jesus came down from heaven two thousand years ago. Baha'u'llah came unexpectedly, like a thief in the night, to a people who were fast asleep, unprepared and misdirected... just as foretold in the Christian prophecies. The long promised Messiah of the "last days" truly has come.

Jesus himself warned that his teachings would be misunderstood and that his own followers were in danger of not recognizing this "Anointing Presence of God" when it again returns in God's new Prophet.

Many Christians today look back at the Jews who rejected Jesus 2000 years ago and wonder how they could have been so blind. Even Jesus commented on their lack of insight. He said:

"This people draweth nigh unto me (the Messiah) with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me teaching for doctrines the commandments of men... they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind both shall fall into the ditch."-Matthew 15:14 (KJV)

What Jesus was telling us was that he Jewish clergy had totally misinterpreted the Messianic promises. The clear insight of these experts had become blindness and these "blind leaders of the blind" had led their followers off of the true highway and "into the ditch" of misunderstanding and rejection. Because they denied Jesus as the Messiah, the faith of these people (which originally was true) now was pronounced by Jesus to be "in vain".

Jesus wanted Christians to understand exactly how the Jewish religious leaders had become so misled so they hopefully could avoid repeating these same mistakes themselves. Jesus cautioned his followers to "beware the leaven of the Pharisees". (see Mt 16:6, Mk 8:15, Lk 12:1)

"beware the leaven of the Pharisees"

Jesus explained that when he spoke of the "leaven of the Pharisees"... once again, he wasn't talking about yeast or about bread. Instead, what he meant by this curious phrase was that the Jewish religious leaders had replaced the original "doctrines" of God with the "commandments of men." And, that through the years, these false interpretations of men had gradually taken the rightful place of the true law of God. This is what Jesus counseled his followers, of whatever era, to avoid.

What lessons can people today learn from the mistakes these people made in the past? How can we be certain that God's other chosen people, the Christians, aren't repeating these same mistakes right now? How can we know? What did Jesus say? Jesus knew what the future was going to bring and, sadly enough, he knew that his followers too would be deceived by the leaven of "false prophets". Jesus predicted that:

"false Christs, and false prophets will appear and shall perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect (EKLEKTOUS= chosen)." -Matthew 24:24 (NIV)

A similar warning was also given by Peter. In his statement Peter evidently refers to one of Jesus' more famous pronouncements... "I am the way... no one comes to the Father, but by me." -John 14:6 (RSV)

Peter warns that because of "false prophets" this "true way" or true road of Jesus' will be abandoned. Peter wrote:

"Israel had false prophets as well as true; and you [Christians] likewise will have false teachers among you. They will import disastrous heresies... They will gain many adherents to their dissolute practices, through whom the true way (HODOS) will be brought into disrepute... They have abandoned the straight road (HODOS) and lost their way (HODOS)."   -2 Peter 2:1 (New English Bible)

Notice how Peter phrases this statement. He doesn't say that the possibility exists that "false teachers" could arise or that they may arise. Instead he states, without any doubt, that they both "will" appear and that they "will gain many adherents". Like the "leaven of the Pharisees" which had blinded the Jewish people in the past, Peter warns that "false teachers" will likewise "import disastrous heresies" into Christianity and that because of these "disastrous heresies" the "true way" of Jesus will be "brought into disrepute" and it will be "abandoned." These "blind leaders of the blind" will "deceive" the "elect" of Christianity with "great signs and miracles" and lead them off of the true road and into the ditch of misinterpretation and misunderstanding.

Ask yourself, did Jesus and Peter know what they were talking about or were they mistaken? Have "false teachers" appeared within Christianity? Have false interpretations of men once again taken the rightful place of the true law of God? Has the "true way" been "abandoned?" Most Christians either hope that this really hasn't happened or they somehow feel that Jesus and Peter couldn't possibly have been speaking about them.

Consider, over the last two thousand years Christianity has grown to encompass the entire world. Today there are literally hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of different denominations that call themselves Christian. Each one has its own distinctive beliefs, interpretations and practices. Yet each one assumes that they have the truth. Can they all be right? How many have been led off of the true HODOS and into the ditch?

Jesus said that he was the true "way" which leads to the Father. And he taught his followers to pray "our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come... on earth..." Jesus came to prepare his followers to expect the coming of his Father's Kingdom on earth.

To these statements Baha'u'llah responds:

"Say, O followers of the Son! Have ye shut out yourselves from Me by reason of My Name? Wherefore ponder ye not in your hearts? Day and night ye have been calling upon your Lord, the Omnipotent, but when He came from the heaven of eternity in His great glory, ye turned aside from Him and remained sunk in heedlessness.

Consider those who rejected the Spirit [Jesus] when He came unto them with manifest dominion. How numerous the Pharisees who had secluded themselves in synagogues in His name, lamenting over their separation from Him, and yet when the portals of reunion were flung open and the divine Luminary shone resplendent from the Dayspring of Beauty, they disbelieved in God, the Exalted, the Mighty. They failed to attain His presence, notwithstanding that His advent had been promised them in the Book of Isaiah as well as in the Books of the Prophets and the Messengers. No one from among them turned his face towards the Dayspring of divine bounty except such as were destitute of any power amongst men. And yet, today, every man endowed with power and invested with sovereignty prideth himself on His Name. Moreover, call thou to mind the one who sentenced Jesus to death. He was the most learned of His age in His own country, whilst he who was only a fisherman believed in Him. Take good heed and be of them that observe the warning... .

They read the Evangel and yet refuse to acknowledge the All-Glorious Lord, notwithstanding that He hath come through the potency of His exalted, His mighty and gracious dominion. We, verily, have come for your sakes, and have borne the misfortunes of the world for your salvation. Flee ye the One Who hath sacrificed His life that ye may be quickened? Fear God, O followers of the Spirit [Jesus], and walk not in the footsteps of every divine that hath gone far astray. Do ye imagine that He seeketh His own interests, when He hath, at all times, been threatened by the swords of the enemies; or that He seeketh the vanities of the world, after He hath been imprisoned in the most desolate of cities? Be fair in your judgement and follow not the footsteps of the unjust.

Open the doors of your hearts. He Who is the Spirit verily standeth before them. Wherefore banish ye Him Who hath purposed to draw you nigh unto a Resplendent Spot? Say: We, in truth, have opened unto you the gates of the Kingdom. Will ye bar the doors of your houses in My face? This indeed is naught but a grievous error. He, verily, hath again come down from Heaven, even as He came down from it the first time. Beware lest ye dispute that which He proclaimeth, even as the people before you disputed His utterances. Thus instructeth you the True One, could ye but perceive it.

The river Jordan is joined to the Most Great Ocean, and the Son, in the holy vale, crieth out: 'Here am I, here am I O Lord, my God!', whilst Sinai circleth round the House, and the Burning Bush calleth aloud: 'He Who is the Desired One is come in His transcendent majesty.' Say, Lo! The Father is come, and that which ye were promised in the Kingdom is fulfilled! This is the Word which the Son concealed, when to those around Him He said: 'Ye cannot bear it now.' And when the appointed time was fulfilled and the Hour had struck, the Word shone forth above the horizon of the Will of God. Beware, O followers of the Son, that ye cast it not behind your backs. Take ye fast hold of it. Better is this for you than all that ye possess. Verily He is nigh unto them that do good. The Hour which We had concealed from the knowledge of the peoples of the earth and of the favored angels hath come to pass. Say, verily, He hath testified of Me, and I do testify of Him. Indeed, He hath purposed no one other than Me. Unto this beareth witness every fair-minded and understanding soul.

Though beset with countless afflictions, We summon the people unto God, the Lord of names. Say, strive ye to attain that which ye have been promised in the Books of God, and walk not in the way of the ignorant. My body hath endured imprisonment that ye may be released from the bondage of self. Set your faces then towards His countenance and follow not the footsteps of every hostile oppressor. Verily, He hath consented to be sorely abased that ye may attain unto glory, and yet, ye are disporting yourselves in the vale of heedlessness. He, in truth, liveth in the most desolate of abodes for your sakes, whilst ye dwell in your palaces."-Baha'u'llah

Jesus was "the way". And Baha'u'llah is "the Father."
"The Father is come, and that which ye were promised
in the Kingdom is fulfilled!"

Again Baha'u'llah wrote:

"I bear witness, O friends! that the favor is complete, the argument fulfilled, the proof manifest and the evidence established. Let it now be seen what your endeavors in the path of detachment will reveal. In this wise hath the divine favor been fully vouchsafed unto you and unto them that are in heaven and on earth. All praise to God, the Lord of all Worlds."
-The Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah, Persian #82

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Joel Smith is a member of the Baha'i Faith living in the United States. Much of the material on this homepage consists of extracts from existing Baha'i publications, but also included are a number of insights and comments about prophecies which are entirely the author's own understanding and, as such, do not necessarily represent the official position of the Baha'i Faith or its teachings.