“no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” – John 14:6b
Few chapters in all the Word of God are more touching, more tender and loving, than this 14th chapter of John. Spoken as it was in the very shadow of the cross, this is not surprising,
The hearts of the disciples are troubled – and no wonder! It is Jesus’ last night on earth. Only a few more hours and He, Whom they loved so dearly would be nailed to the cruel tree. It is the hour of separation, and as the dreadful moment nears the hearts of the disciples become more and more troubled.
Jesus, however, comforts them, first while they are yet in the upper chamber, then while He and His disciples are on the way to the garden of sorrows. He tells them, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” Your souls sorrowful – that’s one thing. There’s nothing wrong with that. Your hearts troubled? The center of your spiritual life bewildered, confused, shaken? No! He tells them, “In My Father’s house are many mansions ,. . . . I go to prepared a place for you.” And then He says, “And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.”
A question of Thomas leads to the words quoted above. This disciple, perplexed by it all, says, “Lord, we know not whither Thou goest: and how can we know the way?” If one doesn’t know the destination, how can one know the way? Jesus replies, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” Hence, the “whither I go” is the Father; the “way” is Christ, without Whom is only darkness and lie and death.
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This “coming to the Father” is the highest conceivable blessedness. Beyond that is nothing. It’s the most, the greatest – everything. It’s the covenant idea in all its fullness and glory.
Father is God, Creator of all things, the infinite comprehension of every perfection and overflowing fountain of all good. To come to the Father is to come to GOD! What can be greater than that?
Father is the Triune God. He is not merely the First Person. We do not come to only one person. He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the three-personal covenant Jehovah. Within the Holy Trinity only the First Person is the Father; in His relation to the creature the Father is the Triune God, always, and our coming is to Him.
Father is the Triune God as Father. Father He is of our Lord Jesus Christ, the holy child Jesus, in Whom dwells the fullness of the godhead bodily. Father He is of all who belong to Christ from everlasting and to everlasting. To them He gives His life so that they are indeed born of Him. Therein lies the basic idea of fatherhood: the will to have children and the act of begetting them. Them He loves and supplies with all they need for time and eternity. In these both lie the essence and beauty of fatherhood.
Coming to this Father implies, that we forsake the world which we love so dearly by nature, renounce sin and evil, crucify our old flesh, and walk in a new and holy life; that we draw near to Him spiritually, seek His fellowship, enter into His sacred presence, know Him, love Him, serve Him; that we dwell in the light of His countenance, bask in the sunshine of His favor, share in the beauties of His glory. All this, and much, much more.
Herein, herein only, lies true and lasting blessedness for the creature, made in His image and adapted therefore to communion with God.
Never does this happiness lie in things of this earth, in sin, or even the legitimate things of this life.
In fact, true happiness for man does not even consist of heaven, merely as a place, however beautiful it may be. Many seem to think so. Heaven will be a beautiful land of breath-taking splendor, where there will be only endless joy and peace. The great purpose of man is to get to that place. That Father is the heaven of heaven, even as our parents make home home, is not considered. Even such a heaven does not constitute man’s chief glory.
To be with Father, to be near to God, that is true happiness – that, and nothing more.
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This coming to the Father, this supreme blessedness, is impossible outside of Christ. That’s the great thrust of this word of Jesus.
1) First of all, it was not the Father’s will that the creature should dwell with Him outside of Christ. Jesus is His own beloved Son. It is the Father’s eternal good pleasure, that all the fullness of the godhead and all the riches of His virtues should dwell bodily in Him, that He should be the way and the truth and the life, and that only through Him salvation should be imparted to a multitude of elect.
Furthermore, we cannot come to the Father and enjoy His heavenly communion outside of Christ because of the essential difference between Father and children. Father is God, remember? And God is the absolutely transcendent one, the light unto which no man can approach, the eternally unreachable and unknowable one as far as mere creature is concerned, invisible, infinite, omnipresent, beyond all knowledge and human comprehension. That God can be known only in His revelation. That revelation unto heavenly blessedness is Christ. He is Immanuel, God with us! He is the face of God – the most we shall eve see of the Father. To see Him is to see the Father; to know Him is to know the Father. Without the former the latter is impossible. “Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me.” “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”
Also, however, we cannot come to the Father outside of Christ by reason of sin.
Father is the perfectly righteous one, Who must demand that all who dwell with Him be in complete harmony with His will and law. Besides, Father is the spotlessly holy one, who can tolerate in His presence only that which is holy as He is holy. “Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in Thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.” Psalm 15:1
2) Nothing less can satisfy Him. Those requirements cannot be altered or bent.
And now, who and what is this man, who is speaking of drawing near to this righteous and pure God? Who are we?
We are guilty, are we not? Our sins rise up against us day by day. “My transgressions I confess, Grief and guilt my soul oppress.” Thus we may not come to the Father. We lost every right to dwell in Father’s house. By nature there is for us, not fellowship and life; only damnation and death.
Also, are we not wholly corrupt, dead in sin, allies of the devil, inclined to all and every corruption? Thus we cannot come to the Father. “I am evil born in sin; Thou desirest truth within.” His holy being must needs consume all that is not according to the purity of His will.
In addition, we are utterly incapable of raising one finger in behalf of our own salvation. No, we do not want to come to the Father either. But, deeper than that, we cannot. Who can atone for even the remotest part of his debt? Who can deliver himself from the law of sin and death, wash away the leopard’s spots, change the Ethiopian’s skin?
“No man cometh unto the Father.”
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“But by Me.” Our precious Redeemer.
Don’t you feel, that only He may dwell with the Father, not only as the eternal Son, but also as the Christ, the Son in human nature, the holy child Jesus, on Whom the Lord has laid the iniquity of us all?
He has fully satisfied the justice of God, by paying the full penalty of sin.
He has fulfilled the entire law in His active obedience. Always His meat was to do the will of the Father. In purest truth He can say, “I have glorified Thee on the earth; I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do.”
Only by Him we may and can come to the Father.
By His blood, first of all. His righteousness must be reckoned unto us unto complete justification. Then we may come to the Father.
Then by His life, given in the miracle of our re-birth.
Both we have only by a true and living faith in Jesus Christ. Faith, therefore, is indeed the victory. You believe in the Lord Jesus? Then, however small the principle may be, that Christ is your Christ too in all the riches of His saving grace. Then the Father is your Father too in all the depths of eternal love.
“No man . . . but by Me.” Ever mindful of that connection, therefore, between destination and way, the eternal Father and our Mighty Savior, we may well join the church of many ages in that familiar and touching prayer:
“Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood, From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure; Save from guilt and make me pure.
Not the labors of my hands Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no languor know, Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and Thou alone.”