Last week, I sat in a chair facing a group of four-year olds as they sat “crisscross applesauce” and waited for me to read a book to them. I explained about the author who was also the illustrator, highlighting his beautiful pictures and use of vibrant color. Once we had finished the book, the other teacher in the room quizzed the kids to see if they remembered what I had told them.
“Boys and girls, who remembers what Miss Abby said before she read the story? Hmmm? Who’s job is it to make the pictures in this book?”
There was a pause, and then one little boy shot up his hand. “God?” he asked.
The other teacher replied, “God gave this person the ability to make the pictures, but who makes the pictures in books?”
A little girl responded tentatively, “Jesus?”
“Well…no. It’s the ill…uh…sss…” the teacher hinted.
A little boy shouted triumphantly, “I know. I know. Dolly Parton!”
For kids who grow up going to church and hearing about the Bible, it’s a regular occurrence to have them guess God or Jesus for nearly any question posed to them. It’s seems funny and might make us think that they’re not really paying attention, but maybe their childlike, naïve answers actually demonstrate a profound and pure Biblical principle.
When Jesus was comforting his closest followers in John 14, He tells them not to be troubled, because He’s going to get everything ready for them. Then He assures them that He’ll come back and get them. And anyway, they don’t need to worry since they know exactly where He’s going.
One of the apostles, Thomas, says, “Hang on…we don’t know where you’re going, so how can we know the way?”
Then Jesus answers with one of His most crucial and revealing statements about his identity. Jesus says, “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.”
This is the sixth of the seven “I Am Statements” Jesus gives us in His Word: I am the way and the truth and the life. In those ten words, Jesus lays His claim to their allegiance to His kingdom and His calling on their lives. It’s telling that the early Christians called their church “The Way.” They weren’t afraid to be confident in proclaiming Jesus’ unique position of exclusivity. He is the only way to the Father, and yet all are welcome to join Him. Those first Christians knew that Jesus, God’s Son, is the ultimate source of truth and life. Everything He spoke on earth was true, even down to the most unbelievable claims about His resurrection.
As it turns out, those bright-eyed four-year olds I read to last week were communicating a truth as old as Creation and yet as new as the mercies God poured out to me this morning—Jesus is the answer.