The disciples were understandably worried after Jesus told them of His impending betrayal and departure at the Last Supper (John 13). So, He moved to calm their fears by telling them that His returning to the Father would be for their benefit, that He would be preparing a place for them (14:1–3). And, as today’s passage reveals, after telling the disciples this comforting truth, Jesus told them that they knew the way to where He was going (v. 4).
Given that the disciples have shown some confusion about what is about to happen to the Lord (13:37), Jesus’ comments might strike us as odd. In fact, they strike Thomas as odd, for he objects that the disciples do not know where He is going (14:5). But our Lord’s point is not that the disciples have complete knowledge of all that is about to transpire in the arrest, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. No, His point is that they know the way to where Jesus is going because they know Him. As the author of Hebrews makes clear, Jesus goes back to the Father on high as our forerunner; He returns to heaven ahead of us in order to bring us there (Heb. 6:20). But the only way to get to heaven, the only way to be reconciled to God, is through Jesus. So, while the disciples do not yet fully know where Jesus is going, they know the way to get there because in knowing and belonging to Jesus they will be taken to the Father as well.
This point is confirmed in John 14:6, which features one of the most important teachings regarding our salvation in all of Scripture. Jesus proclaims Himself as the way, the truth, and the life—the only way to the Father. Here we read perhaps the boldest declaration of the exclusivity of Christ ever spoken. There are no alternatives for redemption other than Jesus; only He can reconcile us to the Father. John Calvin comments that “if any man turn aside from Christ, he will do nothing but go astray; if any man do not rest on him, he will feed elsewhere on nothing but wind and vanity; if any man, not satisfied with him alone, wishes to go farther, he will find death instead of life.”
We must never compromise on this point. To reject Jesus’ teaching and authority here is to reject His other teachings about Himself and His work. Dr. R.C. Sproul writes in his commentary John: “Our friends, our community, and even many churches tell us that we must deny the uniqueness of Christ. But to do that, we must deny the church’s confession of faith, and more importantly, we must deny Jesus’ own confession about Himself.”