Jesus said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
How Will We Get There?
Craig Keener paraphrases Jesus’ words this way, “The Father is where I am going, and I am how you will get there.”
So as Thomas asked, “how can we know the way?” How can we know the way to Jesus? How can we know the way to the Father? How can we know the way to heaven where Jesus and the Father are?
Jesus’ answer is: “I am the way.”
I’ve been thinking about this and praying for God’s words concerning this blog post for about a week now. And here is where I’ve landed.
My son Gabe and his family are traveling to Mexico for a vacation this winter, so the three of them: Gabe, his wife Charise, and his son Andrew are investing in their Spanish. My son Nate is also interested in the process of learning a foreign language. And both Gabe and Nate tell me that based on their research, experts in language learning have figured out the key to becoming fluent. And the key is immersion.
It turns out that most language classes in schools, and many language learning apps are, at their best, a long slow road that ends in mediocrity, and never ends in fluency. Having taken many Spanish classes I can say that this has been my own experience.
So it turns out that becoming fluent in a new language requires immersion. There’s a guy out there who learned Japanese in 18 months mostly by having fun doing things in Japanese like watching Japanese movies. He also memorized Kanji (the writing characters of the Japanese language), and used a memorization app. But mostly he just tried to spend his free time doing fun things in Japanese. And he became fluent. In 2005 he was hired as a software engineer by a company in Tokyo where he’s been living ever since.
This is a strong trend in language learning. More and more this is the method of choice for learning a new language. My niece Sofia is from Venezuela and she learned English this way. My nephew Kassidy is from Oregon and he learned Spanish using immersion. They’re both fluent.
Moderation vs. Immersion
Curiously, there are people who oppose the idea of immersion. “All things in moderation” is their rally cry. Some of these people make a living selling language learning software or teaching language classes that don’t use immersion concepts. Others just seem to gravitate toward moderation in all things.
“All things in moderation.”
There’s wisdom in the last word of that statement. Moderation is the smart play when it comes to driving fast, or eating cheesecake, or drinking beer.
But the first part of that statement, “All things . . .” I have a problem with. Because if you want a career in information security or software development, or if you want to become a professional musician, or if you want to find the cure for cancer, or start an electric car company then moderation is the enemy. No one accomplished anything great through moderation. Moderation and greatness don’t live in the same neighborhood. There are areas of life where immersion is where you want to be. In the passage at the top of this post, I believe Jesus is telling us he is one of those areas.
Thomas asked Jesus the way to where he was going. Thomas asked Jesus the way to Jesus, and the Father, and their dwelling place.
And Jesus’ answer was, “I am the way.”
A little later Jesus will tell us: “Abide in me, and I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (see John 15:1-11)
When Jesus says he is the way, he’s calling us to immerse ourselves in him. He’s calling you and he’s calling me to become a part of the living Jesus. To be a living branch that’s a part of God’s living vine who is Jesus Christ. That kind of connection requires immersion. Immersion in Jesus is the way.
This winter when Gabe, Charise, and Andrew leave for vacation, immersing themselves in the Airbus A320 is the way to the tropical paradise of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Immersing myself in a hot tub is the way to relaxed muscles. I heard a grandfather put it this way, he could tell his two year old grandson the way to the public restroom. Or he could show him the way by drawing a little map. But neither would prove effective. But there’s another alternative. His grandson could immerse himself in the arms of his grandfather, and his grandfather will carry him to the restroom.
Immersing yourself, immersing myself in Jesus is the way to where he and the Father dwell.
Immersing ourselves in Jesus is the way to heaven.
Jesus is the way.
Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, InterVarsity Press, 1993, p. 299
You might also like http://www.craigkeener.com/
Adam, JapaneseLevelUp.com, The Definitive Review Of All Japanese All The Time, January 19, 2013