A friend was asking the way in Ireland. Pointing to the distant horizon, his guide responded in a broad accent: “Well now, can you see as far as you can see?” Of course, that was some years ago. Nowadays, he would have depended on his satellite navigation system.
But the question remains: how do you find out how to get to there from here? And where is there, anyway? It might be a friend's house, or a place to stay; a new place to explore, or business premises to find. For those kind of places we very often need the help of a map, a signpost or a guide. But 'there' might also be the goal of our lives, what we live for, the direction in which we're headed.
Some of us may be reluctant to ask for help. Brazenly ignoring past failures, we retain every confidence in our sense of direction and our own ability to get 'there'. Sometimes it works, but there are times when we would be wiser (and probably safer) to get help.
When Jesus spoke of himself as 'the way', he was not so much offering a route map as inviting us to take him with us, as our guide and companion. A satellite navigation system is one thing; for those with the luxury of that kind of help, the mechanical voice taking its guidance from a machine in the sky is a help indeed. But someone who knows the route better than we will ever know it—and is willing to actually travel beside us—would be better still.
Jesus went further. He called himself the 'truth' and the 'life'. He is a reliable guide; a living guide; a good friend to travel with. When he used the famous words, “I am the way, the truth and the life,” he was speaking about God as the Father, who is the real goal and destination. The one who made us is the one who will also receive us into his presence—our true home. And the route there is not a religion, or our behaviour or our achievements, but through Jesus himself. As we put our hand into his hand, he leads us and takes us into the Father's loving presence.
When Jesus took the road himself, he faced many obstacles, misunderstandings and rejection. In the end, he faced a mock trial and a cruel death. It was not an easy or comfortable path. He doesn't promise an easy path to his followers today, either. But his resurrection is the proof that he lives, that he has power over death itself, and that he is the true and living way.
When you ask the way, you first need to know where you're going, and you must want to go there. The joy, then, is in discovering that it is not only possible to get there, but that someone will guide you and take you there himself!
Pray: God, it feels important for me to look as if I know where I'm going, but in reality I'm stumbling about. I'm not even sure if my priorities, the things I'm directing my energies towards, are the right ones. Help me straighten this out and to find the right road. Please go with me. Amen.
Think about: Think back to an occasion when you couldn’t find the way to somewhere important, and arrived really late. How did you feel—physically, emotionally? Many of us take great care about sorting out the things that seem important for this life, but don’t make plans for what happens after we die.
Challenge: Get a piece of paper and a pen. Imagine you’re you’re behind the wheel of a car, on a journey to somewhere you’ve never been. Sitting beside you is someone who’s been there before. Now write down 10 advantages to having that person in the car there with you.
Watch the video clip A Man Fell in a Hole
Watch the video clip The Good-O-Meter
Read the book What about other faiths – is Jesus Christ the only way to God? by Martin Goldsmith
Read the book Bacon Sandwiches and Salvation: An A-Z of the Christian Life by Adrian Plass
Read the book Who is Jesus? by Nicky Gumbel