And where I go you know, and the way you know.
When you say to a man, "You know the way," you mean "Come." And in these words there lie a veiled invitation, and the assurance that they, though separated, might still find the road to the Father's house, and so be with Him still. Observe —
I. THE DISCIPLES' UNCONSCIOUS KNOWLEDGE.
1. Christ says: "Ye know the way and the goal." Thomas ventures flatly to contradict Him. Was Jesus right? or Thomas? or both? The fact is, they had heard plenty in the past as to where Christ was going. It had made some kind of lodgement in their heads, and, in that sense, they did know. It is this unused and unconscious knowledge of theirs to which Christ appeals.
2. The dialogue is an instance of what is true about us all, that we have in our possession truths given to us by Jesus Christ, the whole sweep and bearing of which we do not dream of yet. Time and circumstances and some sore agony of spirit are needed in order to make us realize the riches that we possess; and the practice of far more patient, honest, profound meditation is needed, in order that we may understand the things that are given to us of God. The life belts lie unnoticed on the cabin shelf as long as the weather keeps fine, but when the ship strikes people take to them.
3. All our knowledge is ignorance. And ignorance that confesses itself to Him is in the way of becoming knowledge. And we are meant to carry all our inadequate and superficial realizations of His truths into His presence, that, from Him, we may gain deeper knowledge, and a more joyous certitude in His inexhaustible truths.
II. OUR LORD'S GREAT SELF-REVELATION WHICH MEETS THIS UNCONSCIOUS KNOWLEDGE. Of these three great words, the Way, the Truth, the Life, we are to regard the second and the third as explanatory of the first.
1. Note, then, as belonging to all three of these clauses that remarkable "I am." We show the Way, Christ is it. We speak truth, Christ is it. Parents impart life, which they have received, Christ is life. He separates Himself from all men by that representation which He made when Calvary was within arm's length. What did He think about Himself, and what should we think of Him?
2. And note that He here sets forth His unique relation to the truth as being one ground on which He is the Way to God.
(1) He is the Truth in reference to the Divine nature. It is not only His speech that teaches us, but Himself that shows us God. There is all the difference between talking about God and showing Him. Men reveal God by their words; Christ reveals Him by Himself and the facts of His life.
2. He is the Truth, inasmuch as, in His life, men find the foundation truths of a moral and spiritual sort. "Whatsoever things are true," etc., He is these.
3. He is the Way because He is the Life. Dead men cannot walk a road. It is no use making a path if it starts from a cemetery. And Christ taught that men apart from Him are dead, and that the only life that they can have by which they can be knit to God is the Divine life which was in Himself. He is the Life — and, paradox of mystery and yet fact which is the very heart and centre of His gospel, His only way of giving His life to us is by giving up His physical life for us.
4. And what about people that never heard of Him. Ah! Christ has other ways of working than through His historical manifestation, He is "that Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." But for us to whom this Book has come, the law of my text rigidly applies. "No man cometh unto the Father but by Me." It is either — take Christ for the Way, or wander in the wilderness and forget your Father; take Christ for the Truth, or be given over to the insufficiencies of mere natural, political, and intellectual truths, and the shows and illusions of time and sense; take Christ for your life, or remain in your deadness separate from God.
III. THE DISCIPLES' IGNORANCE AND THE NEW VISION WHICH DISPELS IT. "If ye had known Me ye should have known My Father also," etc. Our Lord accepts for the moment Thomas' standpoint. He supplements His former allegation of their knowledge with the admission of the ignorance which went with it as its shadow, and tells them that they did not know what they thought they knew so well, after so many years of companionship — even Himself. The proof that they did not is that they did not know the Father as revealed in Him, nor Him as revealing the Father. If they missed that, they missed everything.
1. The lesson for us is that the true test of the completeness and worth of our knowledge of Christ lies in its being knowledge of God the Father, brought near to us by Him. This saying puts a finger on the radical deficiency of all merely humanitarian views of Christ's person. If you know anything about Jesus Christ rightly, this is what you know about Him, that in Him you see God. The knowledge of Christ which stops with the martyr, and the teacher and the brother, is knowledge so partial that even He cannot venture to call it other than ignorance.
2. And then our Lord passes on to another thought, the new vision which at the moment being granted to this unconscious ignorance that was passing into conscious knowledge. "From henceforth ye know Him and have seen Him." We must give that "from henceforth," a somewhat literal interpretation, and apply it to the whole series of utterances and deeds of which the words of our text are but a portion. It is the dying Christ that reveals the living God. Conclusion: So He is your way to God. See that you seek the Father by Him alone. He is your truth; enrich yourselves by all the communicated treasures that you have already received in Him. He is your Life; cleave to Him, that the quick spirit that was in Him may pass into you and make you victors over all deaths, temporal and eternal.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.