Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."
Upon first reading this passage, what comes to mind? What sort of Jesus do we think he is? Sadly, many Christians I've met use this passage in an exclusionary way, to exclude anyone who is not a professed Christian from the eternal life of God. By eternal life, I do not mean mere residential real estate in a place called heaven, but an unbroken flow of union and communion with God in Jesus. But more to the point, is this passage about exclusion and exclusivism? What is the context for this passage?
Simply put, the context is one of the disciples feeling anxious and confused about losing their master; of not knowing whereto from there and what the future holds for them. I don't think these disciples were thinking about other religions or faiths, speculating about whether a Buddhist or Daoist or Sikh or Zoroastrian or Jain will experience the life of God in them. Hence, I submit to you that in Jesus' answer, he was not talking about religious exclusivism either. Rather, he was seeking to reassure his disciples and provide them with a fresh way of looking at the presence of God in their lives. He was offering them the relational wisdom of himself as the Way, Truth, and Life. I don't think Jesus was being exclusionary.
The Way is dynamic, not static. The Way is not a destination but a process, a journey. If Jesus says he is the Way, it must mean that we walk on a journey in him as the Way. Walking is moment by moment, always changing and fluid. Each step is a step of discovery and guidance, not a formulaic repetition. If Jesus is to be the Way, then this journey is a relational one whereby one is walking in him, with him, as him in non-linear, spiralling, even labyrinthine ways.
The Truth is what is real, not what we think or imagine or theologize or philosophize or analyze or fantasize or memorize is real. In other words, we are dealing with what is, not words and concepts. If Jesus is to be the Truth, then we are to see him directly and immediately with our whole being, not through the filters of our theology, dogma, catechism, sermons, beliefs, or self-seeking attachments and social conditioning. More than that, Jesus as Truth means he is not standing as some alienated propositional truth but as living breathing reality in relationship.
The Life is vibrant, pulsative, conscious, responsive, creative and aware—the very source, ground, and finality of living and experiencing the totality of all that is. There is no time past or time future, only the everpresent now. Now is not a point in time but time is an event in the now. And now is where Life happens. If Jesus is to be the Life, then we can only know Jesus by being Jesus, by ensconcing unreservedly into the living incarnational presence of Jesus that is not separate from our presence.
Seen in this light, coming to the Father by Jesus is simply saying this: that we are invited to imbibe, immerse in and into, and embody fully the transforming, real, and living presence of Jesus as our own presence; through which we experience God our Father as none other than the fullness of Jesus' presence. By imbibing Jesus' presence of love, peace, joy and all goodness, we come to know God who is present with us and as us.
Whether it be Jesus' disciples of his day, or ourselves as disciples now, we can enter into God's presence in, through, and as Jesus' presence that is full of love, peace, joy, grace and mercy. Jesus is available to us in the innermost presence of our being, as the incarnate logos and lamb of God who was "slain" from the foundation of the world for all, emptying himself into creation as the Son of Man to fulfil all righteousness and reconcile all to God whom he is. This is at once a mystery and a mystical insight, even as it is a plain fact of history.
In any case, I read John 14:6 as an affirmation of Jesus' inclusiveness and pervasive presence in the world, not a threat of religious exile or a clobber passage of religious exclusion.