The gospel of John particularly helps us with our task of seeing and proclaiming the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. Right from the start of his gospel, John introduces us to “necessary negatives.” We do this in daily life; it is no use saying to your friend “I will meet you by the clock” if there are two clocks. We would say, “Meet me under this clock, not that one.” John again and again gives us the truth positively, and then he states it again negatively to make it clear. For example, “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). The negative brings the positive into a sharper focus. John uses this approach constantly: “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (v. 18). There is both a positive and negative explanation.
Let me give three examples from John that help us with the question of the exclusivity of Christ.
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36). This beautiful positive gives the message that if you will put your trust in the Lord Jesus, you will know eternal life. Jesus clarifies what He means so that we will not miss it. If we refuse to acknowledge and trust the Lord Jesus Christ, we will not know life, and more than that, God’s anger is upon us even now.
In John 10, Jesus is speaking at the temple of how His sheep hear His voice and His people follow His word. In verse 28, He says, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” He speaks of both what He gives us and also what He protects us from. The negative shines light on the positive. The unbelieving response to this is fury, as the Jews pick up stones to stone Him.
In John 14:6, Jesus says these famous words to Thomas: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus gives us a positive definitive statement—He is the way, the truth, and the life—but then He gives an even greater clarity to that truth: there is no other way, no other means to the Father. If you want to know God, the only way is through Jesus Christ.
The world has never been able to accept that message. To use the words from John’s prologue: “[Even though] the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:10–11).