Christ, the Way to Heaven
William Nicholson, 1862
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me!" John 14:6
In the former verses Christ endeavors to comfort the hearts of his disciples in prospect of his departure from earth. "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also." John 14:1-3
He tells them that the great design of his departure to the cross to suffer and die, and of his ascension to Heaven to reign — is to prepare a place for them in his Father's celestial house, intimating also that at a future time he would remove them from earthly sorrows, and receive them in a glorified state, to himself, never to part again.
What Christ said to his disciples, he says to his people now. The disciples were ignorant of the great design of Christ's coming. They dreamed of a temporal kingdom in external pomp and power, and doated upon this notion — though Jesus had frequently told them to the contrary. "My kingdom is not of this world." Hence the inquiry of Thomas and the auswer of his Master; "I am the Way."
A Way obviously implies a place to which it leads. In the preceding verses, Christ says he was going to Heaven. Heaven is the dwelling-place of God. To that glorious residence, and to God, Jesus Christ is the Way.
I. The Place to Which the Redeemer is the Way.It is Heaven.
Splendid and beautiful are the descriptions which the sacred writers give of Heaven. They have selected the loftiest language and the choicest figures by which to represent . . .
its bliss, and
The second verse supplies us with a beautiful view of Heaven, "In My Father's house are many mansions!" John 14:2
1. It is the residence of God. "In my Father's house." There he dwells, there he holds his court, there he manifests his glory. Psalm 73:25; 1 Kings 8:30, 39, 43, 49; Isaiah 66:1; Psalm 11:4.
2. It is the residence of God's family. "In my Father's house." The inhabitants of it composed the happy, glorified household of God. What a pleasing idea of love and endearment does this representation give!
They are a family, and God is their Father, and Jesus Christ is their Elder Brother. That family embraces the brightest intelligences, holy angels, and glorified saints.
And, glorious thought! that family includes saints here and saints there. The saints on earth,
are for an appointed time sojourners in this world;
but they are traveling home to God;
they will soon join the household of Heaven;
shall soon be a part of that family! Ephesians 3:15; Hebrews 12:22-24.
God's family is a holy, harmonious, and happy household!
3. Heaven is vast and capacious. "In my Father's house are many mansions." An allusion to the great number of rooms into which the temple was divided; by which Christ represents those numerous seats of heavenly bliss which his Father's house contained, and which were prepared for the righteous.
There are many mansions — plentiful accommodation for all who die in the Lord. "Many sons will be brought to glory;" "they shall come from the east," etc., "out of every nation, kindred, and tongue — a great number which no man can number."
4. The residences of saints in Heaven will be permanent. "Mansions;" durable dwellings — abiding places. The house itself is lasting. Our estate in it is not for a term of years, but forever — a life-interest in it, and believers shall live forever.
Here on earth, we have no certainty; our tent is frequently removed. There are mansions, abiding-places — and not movable tents — awaiting us in the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a "building above, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens!"
Here on earth, everything is fleeting, shadowy, ephemeral, perishing. There everything retains its beauty, and loveliness, and splendor. Everything abides.
II. Christ is the Only Way to Heaven.
Heaven would be of no value to us, if we knew not how to obtain it. In vain you tell me of its splendors, its glories, its ravishments — if I can have no interest in them. Blessed be God! though
Paradise by sin has been lost — yet Paradise may be regained by faith in the Son of God; for he says, "I am the Way."
He has always been the way. He is divinely ordained, appointed, and qualified for this great purpose.
Adam went to Heaven by this Way, and so did all the believing patriarchs. The Mosaic ritual prefigured this Way — the prophets proclaimed it, and went by it to Heaven themselves. Christ and his Apostles declared redeeming love as the Way, the sure Way, the only acceptable Way.
And O, you enraptured spirits in Heaven, how did you come to your happy abode? Myriads of voices reply, "We washed our robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb!" We came not here by works of righteousness, but through the grace of God. We scaled this holy mount, by the ladder of Christ's substitutionary atonement!
This Way was needed. Contemplate man as a sinner — excluded and cast out from the Divine favor. He can have no access to God as a transgressor.
Human efforts, good deeds, works of merit, avail nothing to procure salvation. None of these will unbar the gates of Paradise. If all the good works of men, from Adam to the present time, could be collected and concentrated in one individual — it would avail nothing! Jesus is the only way to Heaven.
"With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" Micah 6:6-7
In what respects may Christ be said to be the way to Heaven?
1. As he revealed it. Dark and obscure were the ideas of the ancient philosophers respecting a future state. But Jesus Christ threw a flood of light on this subject.
2. By his sin-atoning Sacrifice. He reconciles us to God by his death.
Having honored the law by a holy, impeccable life, he endured the penalty of transgression on the cross in our stead. 1 Peter 3:18; Romans 5:6-8. "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body!" Hebrews 10:19-20
The way is called "new," or fresh, and living; alluding to the blood of the victim newly shed, uncoagulated, and consequently proper to be used for sprinkling. The blood of the Jewish victims was fit for sacrificial purposes, only so long as it was warm and fluid; and it might be considered as yet retaining vitality.
Christ in this allusion, is represented as newly slain, and yet living; the blood considered as ever flowing, and giving life to the world. The old covenant neither gave life, nor removed the liability to death. The way then was through the dead bodies of the animals slain; but Christ is living and ever lives to make intercession for us; therefore he is a new and living way.
3. He is the Way as he gives his Holy Spirit — to enlighten the mind — to quicken the soul, and to lead to the blood of the cross for forgiveness and acceptance with God. Without this Divine influence, we would never avail ourselves of this way to God and Heaven.
Thus Christ is the Way,
(1.) To God in this world. Breaking down the middle wall of partition, and so making peace. Our guilt, impurity, and condemnation, are the barrier to access to God. But by virtue of his sacrifice, resurrection, and intercession, that barrier is removed.
(2.) He is the way to Heaven; giving us a fitness for it, a relish for it, and earnest desires after it. "This is the record that God has given us even eternal life, and this life is in his Son." And when we die, he gives us "a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!" 2 Peter 1:11
4. He is the Way as he prescribes the conditions or means of salvation. He insisted upon repentance and faith as the essential conditions. "Repent and believe the Gospel." Forsaking of sin — and the repose of the soul on the finished work of Christ. Access to God is said to be "with confidence by the faith of him." Ephesians 3:12.
There is no access to unbelievers. They have none to take them by the hand, and introduce them to their offended sovereign; and as they believe not, the Mediator cannot take them into the Divine presence. We must join hands with Christ, and be of one heart with him — or the benefits of his mediation cannot reach us.
This Way is distinguished by several glorious excellencies:
1. It is a plain Way. Some ways are difficult to find. They are very circuitous, and crossed by many other paths, as almost to make them a maze — a labyrinth. But there is nothing difficult to understand in this way. "A wayfaring man, though a fool, may understand the way of salvation." It may be hid from "the wise and prudent," in many cases, but it is "revealed unto babes." Isaiah 35:8.
2. It is a way into which all who comply with the conditions, are gladly welcomed. They are welcomed by God, who rejoices over the returning sinner as did the father of the Prodigal. They are welcomed by Christ, who says, "Him that comes unto me, I will never cast out." They are welcomed by angels, who "rejoice over one sinner that repents." They are welcomed by the Church, which says, "Come with us, and we will do you good!"
3. It is a free way — open and unrestricted. It is a way of liberty, entirely adapted for poor, impoverished sinners, who have nothing to pay. All the blessings of salvation are "without money and without price."
4. It is a safe way, and will terminate happily, conducting to a glorious heavenly home. "Who can harm you if you be followers of that which is good?" God protects. "If God is for us — then who can be against us?" "In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!" Romans 8:37-39
5. It is a pleasant way.
Is safety pleasant?
Is liberty pleasant?
Is hope pleasant?
In this way, there are pleasant exercises — and pleasant company.
Even when there are clouds, and storms, and tempests — it is pleasant. The Apostles gloried in tribulation — Paul and Silas sang praises to God when their feet were made fast in the stocks. The martyrs sang in the fires!
Lastly, let all remember that Christ is the only way. "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved!" Acts 4:12. "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ!" 1 Corinthians 3:11