The Way, the Truth, the Life

A Bible study on these important words

Jesus has a conversation with his followers right before his death. Let's listen in:

"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 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: 3-7).

When Jesus declared himself the way, the truth, and the life, he was not just telling people that they ought to believe in him to be saved. Those words meant so much more to people of his day. Jesus was using the same words to describe himself that every Jew used to describe the Torah, the Word of God. Jesus was saying that he was the embodiment of the Jewish scriptures, the fulfillment of God's promise. He was claiming to be the Messiah—astounding if it was true, heretical if it wasn't. He was making a radical statement that would not have been misunderstood in his culture. It was the reason some risked their lives for him, and the reason others wanted to crucify him.

A Bible Study on the Way, Truth, and Life

God has shown us the way to live.
Jesus' contemporaries often referred to Torah (God's decrees and instructions) as The Way.
"Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave" (Exodus 18:20).

God promises to show us the way.
It's human nature to not trust God—to want to go our own way—even when he clearly shows us his way.
"In spite of this, you did not trust in the LORD your God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go" (Deuteronomy 1:32-33).

God invites us to walk through life his way.
"Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name" (Psalm 86:11).

God's way promises the abundant life.
God's words and commands are known throughout the Bible as "the way," and understood as the only way to an abundant life.
"For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life" (Proverbs 6:23).

God gives us Truth.
God's word is not just a truth but the truth.
"Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and your law is the truth" (Psalm 119:142, NRSV).

God's gift of the law is a gift of life.
The Old Testament law, given to the children of Israel, was considered a gift of life.
"Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you—they are your life" (Deuteronomy 32:46-47).

Jesus came to give us life.
Jesus is the Life, and he came to give us that same life.
"I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:9-10).

The Meaning of the Way, the Truth, and the Life

The Way
The words "the way" can mean a path or direction, or a particular method of doing things. The concept has to do with action, not just belief.
"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says" (James 1:22).

The Truth
The Truth is not "my truth" or "your truth," relative to our experience. The Truth is absolute and true for all. We're called to love the Truth and hold fast to it.
"They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth" (2 Thessalonians 2: 10-13).

The Life
Jesus calls us to seek after the life he promises. Even if we have to give up other things, it will be worth it.
"But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it" (Matthew 7:14).
"For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?" (Matthew 16:25-26).

Discussion Questions:

  1. Tell about a time you were forced to choose between God's way and your way? What did you choose? Why?
  2. Which verse studied particularly resonates with you or challenges you? How will you try to live out this verse in the coming week?
  3. How do you understand the difference between things that are sometimes true or true for certain people (relative truth) and things that are always true for everyone (absolute truth)?
  4. Dallas Willard once said that it is very difficult to have the truth but not hurt anybody with it. What do you think he meant? Have you ever been hurt by the truth? What does it mean to "speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15, NLT)?
  5. In John 10, Jesus says: "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." What do you think Jesus meant by "life to the full"? Is he talking about material things or spiritual things? Or both?
  6. What do you think it means to "lose your life" in order to save it (Matthew 16:25)? What specific changes might you have to make if you were to do that? How is this a process? In what ways have you taken steps to do what Jesus recommends?
  7. How are the way, the truth, and the life related? How do these three ideas interconnect in your experience of following Jesus?

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