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Easter 5A: The Most Misused Verse in Scripture

To reduce the way to God to a narrow belief or creed or dogma is to go completely against Jesus.

S1:E27 EPISODE SUMMARY

The Gospel lesson for the fifth Sunday in Easter is a doozy. Adam and Lindsey explore John 14: 1-14, wherein there is nestled one of the most misused quotes of Jesus in all of scripture. Interpreted through the lens of mercy, the words he speaks are life-giving, but too often they are twisted through the lens of sacrifice. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

These words have been quite a source of confusion. Through a lens of sacrifice, “No one comes to the Father except through me” seems pretty cut and dry… and unyielding. It leaves little room for people of other faiths or our own doubts. Many have tried to wrap their understanding of love around an exclusivism that has so long been the primary interpretation of this verse.

This is backwards.

Jesus is the embodiment of solidarity with the marginalized and the outcast. He is compassion, mercy, and love incarnate. To reduce the way to God to a narrow belief or creed or dogma is to go completely against Jesus. He is not “the way, the truth, and the life” because he demands absolute adherence to a religious formula, but because he lives into the fullness of his humanity as the incarnation of God’s love.

“No one comes to the Father except through me” means that the way to Love is the way of solidarity, compassion, and mercy that embraces, not excludes. Not only is this path always open to all, it is the path of openness itself. God leads all of us through it. We just have to recognize God in the one we might look down upon, exclude, or condemn. This path is universal, but still difficult, because it tells us that the way to God is not what we thought it was. The Good News is that it’s infinitely better!

In the midst of Ramadan, when Muslims so beautifully embody the very solidarity with the hungry and poor that Jesus models and prescribes, it’s urgent to understand the true meaning of Jesus’s words not as exclusion, but as the ultimate call to including all within the embrace of love and solidarity.

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