Everything changed. The old mindset wasn’t going to work anymore. The framework which had become the standard was a temporary structure all along and the new structure was being built over the next three days. The Cornerstone was being put in place.
The default question for the well-intentioned is almost always, “how do I do that . . . what do I need to do?” That had been a legitimate approach for centuries and remains the default attempt more often than not. We file into the pews weekly hoping to hear what we can do to get the Peace we desire and how we need to perform for eternal acceptance.
From the evening that Jesus was telling his closest friends of his pending death, they started to try to figure it out in the same old religious mindset they had been raised in. They were raised in the customs of Jewish tradition, where the law dictated the performance necessary for hope in God. He tells them that He is going to die, but not to worry, because, “You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:4)
Thomas, ever the pragmatist, considers this assertion and challenges it with in verse 5 with “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Ahh. Good point, Thomas. You need more information. You need at least some reference points so that you can accurately maneuver to get to the place that Jesus is talking about. If He’ll at least tell you where it is, or maybe even a good clue, then you can figure it out and do the rest. You’ve been following the directions your whole life, a new direction is easy. Thomas’s questioning sets Jesus up perfectly for the ushering in of a new Kingdom, a new Way. Here it is . . . wait for it, Jesus responded;
“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.”
See the difference? Really see it? Most of us spend a lifetime in church and even memorize this passage but the difference doesn’t fully settle in our spirits. The question in verse 5 started with “we don’t know” and Jesus takes the application of the word “know” from intellectual to relational in His response.
“If you really know me . . .” Same word, “know,” different meaning. Question “know” was information to be figured out. Answer “know” was intimate relationship. Your best efforts to figure it out don’t work, anymore, the way in is through intimacy with Jesus. The way in takes no effort to get it right, just walking with and receiving. The way in just changed forever, but institution after institution claiming the name of Jesus hang out in the question form of Thomas’s “know.” No.