“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
After many (perhaps most except the Twelve) find Jesus’ demands about being his disciple impossible, Jesus poses the same question to those who were his closest followers: the Twelve. I find Peter’s response telling. What first struck me is not that Peter assumed to be the spokesperson for the group (a behavior he was known for), but that his response to Jesus was actually spot on for at least two reasons.
- Peter saw the logic of looking elsewhere for the same product (eternal life) and realized Jesus is the only one who can deliver. No one, not anyone, anywhere, at any time could offer eternal life but Jesus. There are no alternatives available. None! I recognize this is not a popular notion in a culture that is intoxicated with every form of pluralism (intellectual, moral, religious, epistemological) and that embraces all kinds of diversity simply for the sake of appearing “open” with little or no regard for the (il)logical consequences.
- If indeed the name given Jesus “is above every name” (Phil 2:9), “not only in the present age but also in the one to come” (Eph 1:20), then there really can be no other means whereby one may receive eternal life. While it may be argued that other world religions serve as a signpost, pointing us in the direction of Jesus, none can offer the gift of eternal life. That is Christ’s alone to bestow.
Later we learn that Jesus claims much more. Not only does he alone offer the gift of eternal life, but is himself the way and the truth. To Thomas Jesus says:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Jesus does not simply show the way, but claims to be the way. In the second half of his response, he does not say “none among you” but says “no one,” showing that those desiring to come to the Father are not limited to just the Twelve. Moreover, the definite article repeated before “way,” “truth,” and “life” is an emphatic means of saying that all others who claim to be the way, the truth, or the life are necessarily false.
Jesus is the way because he is the truth of God (Jn. 1:14, 18). We might even say that Jesus exegetes God and is God’s final self-revelation. Moreover, he is the very life of God (Jn. 1:4; 5:26; 11:25; 1 Jn. 5:20). Therefore, because Jesus is God’s way, God’s truth, and God’s life, he is the only way to God.