What Does John 14:6 Mean?

This article is part of the What Does It Mean? series.

The Route to Heaven

​​I don’t know what we did before Google Maps. For as long as I can remember, regardless of where or how far I’m driving, I always plug my destination into Google Maps. I like to see my options. Inevitably, I am offered multiple ways to arrive at my journey’s end. There’s the “avoid highways” route, the “tolls required” option, or, my all-time favorite, the “fastest route.” Google Maps lets me be in the driver’s seat, literally and figuratively. I can choose my preferred way and can arrive at my destination any way I see fit.

Most people would say that they want to go to heaven when they die—heaven is their hoped-for eternal destination. But many of those same people believe that the route to heaven is like Google Maps—there are multiple paths to get there, and you are free to choose the one that you prefer. However, in John 14:6, Jesus proclaimed, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” In other words, there are no options on the route to eternal life—there is only one way, and Jesus is that way.

Behold and Believe

Courtney Doctor, Joanna Kimbrel

This 7-week Bible study from the Gospel Coalition explores the question Who is Jesus? by walking through his 7 “I am” statements in the Gospel of John.

Jesus made this clear claim on the heels of some disorienting moments. In chapter 13 of John’s Gospel, Jesus, on the night before he would be crucified, told his disciples that one of them would betray him (John 13:21), he was about to leave them (John 13:33), and Peter would deny him (John 13:38). I can only imagine how lost, confused, and hopeless the disciples must have felt as everything they had staked their lives on seemed to be collapsing around them.

So imagine how comforting Jesus’s words in our text must have been! Jesus offered deep assurance to alleviate their greatest fears—their separation would be temporary, their reunion would be eternal, and he, Jesus, will come back to get them:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”—John 14:1–6

After comforting his disciples with the surety of his return (not just at his resurrection, but with his second coming1) and their eternal reunion, Jesus spoke words to alleviate their disorientation: Not only do you know where I am going, you also know the way to get there. They weren’t lost; they weren’t going to be abandoned; they knew the way.

Jesus didn’t say he would show them a way or that he would merely pave a path; he said that he himself is the way.

Thomas, the disciple least afraid to admit doubt or voice questions, asked the question that was probably on every disciple’s mind, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” In other words, we don’t know the destination, so how in the world are we to know the route?

Jesus’s answer in verse 6 is astounding: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” His answer is clear and exclusive—no one will come to the Father any other way. Because Jesus had already told his disciples that he and the Father are one (John 10:30), his answer to Thomas declares that he, Jesus, is both the destination and the route.

The Way

Jesus didn’t say he would show them a way or that he would merely pave a path; he said that he himself is the way. In Matthew’s Gospel we read that on the same evening that he spoke these words to Thomas, Jesus wept bitterly and beseeched his Father three times “if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” What was Jesus asking? He was asking his Father if there was any other way to save, redeem, and bring people to the Father—and if there was, Jesus begged to be spared the agony of the crucifixion. I don’t know if Jesus heard his Father speak these words back to him in that moment or not, but the result is clear—No, Jesus, you are the way, the only way. So Jesus willingly went to the cross to open the way for us.

The Truth

It appears as if most people in our current cultural moment place a high value on believing truth to be relative— “your truth” is your truth and “my truth” is mine. It is such an appealing thought that we often disregard the faulty logic and ultimate impossibility that two contradictory “truths” can’t both be true. There can only be that which is true and that which is not.

Jesus did not claim to be a truth or to be “his truth.” He claimed to be the truth. The ultimate, inarguable, definitive, eternal, and supreme truth. It’s not that Jesus merely teaches truth or that his words are true (he does, and they are!), Jesus is truth embodied. Truth incarnate. And the truth of his claim means that we are to believe him, trust him, and submit every one of our “truths” to his absolute truth.

The Life

John began his Gospel by saying, “In him [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). He ended his Gospel by saying, “Now Jesus did many other signs . . . which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30–31). And John summarized his Gospel with these well-known words, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Jesus is life. He is the author of life (Acts 3:15). And he came to give his life for us and to us. Remarkably, Life himself made the way for us to have life through his death. Because Jesus willingly went into a tomb, he paved the way (the only way) to the other side of the tomb for all who believe in him.

Where do you hope your eternal destination will be? If you want to dwell with the Lord God Almighty for all eternity, basking in his love, worshiping him in joy and truth, redeemed and restored, then there is a way—only one way—and his name is Jesus. Believe in him and live.


  1. Kruse, Colin G. John: An introduction and commentary. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, USA, 2017, p. 344

Courtney Doctor is coauthor with Joanna Kimbrel of Behold and Believe: A Bible Study on the “I Am” Statements of Jesus.

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