Day 22: Jesus is the Way
Jesus dzə̀ dzəə̀ (Lamnso’)
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6
The conflict in which Cameroonians living in the northwest and southwest regions find themselves for the past five years has exposed the challenges Christians face in asserting their loyalty and commitment to God. Many people’s faith has been challenged as they helplessly watch their loved ones being murdered in cold blood, their houses torched with fire, or their family members abducted to unknown destinations. As more people become homeless and are exposed to hunger and want of basic needs, survival becomes difficult. It becomes more challenging to affirm that Jesus is the “way,” especially as the church’s efforts at resolving the problems seem not to bear much fruit. How can Christians in such a context understand and appreciate Jesus as the way, in the midst of competing ways?
The Way is Personalised
Our text presents Jesus’ statement to a bewildered group of disciples who have been with Him, following Him and learning from Him, yet have struggled to connect His thoughts to their future expectations. In response to Thomas’s statement that they are ignorant of Jesus’s destination and thus the way there, Jesus points His disciples to His mission. By saying “I am the way (dzəə̀ kù dzə̀ mo və̀n),” He personalizes the way. He is not claiming to merely know the way, in the sense of giving direction; His person and work serve as believers’ pathway to God the Father. “Way” speaks of a connection between two persons or things, and Jesus Himself serves as the link between God and humans. His statement insists that salvation does not come through the law, sacrifices, religious practices, or the overthrow of foreign oppressors, as the Jews of the first century believed. Instead, Jesus Himself is the channel through which people can have relationship with God the Father and spend eternity with Him.
The Way Fulfils the Religious Yearnings of All Peoples
The affirmation “Jesus is the way” is very important in the context of war and humanitarian crises in Cameroon and across Africa. Jesus dzə̀ dzəə̀ calls into question the use of “odeshi” powers and the occult in an attempt to protect one’s self or fight against the oppressor. It calls the Christians’ attention to the need to rethink the role ancestors play in solving such human problems. Considering the absolute statement Jesus makes, it indicates that no other way is valid in establishing human relationship with God, the possession of eternal life, or supernatural solutions to problems caused by other human beings. In a crisis of faith, we are called to affirm that Jesus is the God-appointed way instead of claiming that our primal religious practices connect us to God or can provide a solution to the crisis affecting us. Jesus’ statement points to his person as the ultimate revelation of God who fulfills the religious yearnings of all peoples of the world. Any other religion or philosophy that proposes a different avenue to God is not authentic, since Jesus asserts that He is the one exclusive path to God. Our relationship with the Father, which brings us needed help through a crisis, depends on Jesus alone. Therefore, since He is God’s anointed, we are all called to respond to Him in obedience, no matter our difficulties and challenges. Those who claim to know God but reject Jesus do not know God.
The Way Shows God’s Action in the World
In the midst of a world teeming with religious diversity, Jesus the way means we should look to Jesus to discover who God is, how God acts in the world, and the character of the divine mission. When in crisis, we must remember that all roads do not lead to God. Rather, we can remember that, in Jesus, God came to us. The way of Jesus is not a way void of challenges, but when challenges come, Our Lord assures us that He will be with us till the end.
Dr. Marceline Yele is a Langham Scholar who received her PhD with support from Langham. She now serves at Akrofi Christaller Institute of Theology, Mission and Culture in Ghana, and as a lecturer in the Biblical Studies Department at the Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Kumba, Cameroon.