Jesus left no room for confusion.
Jesus clearly said that He is the only way to salvation and reconciliation with God. In (John 14.6 ESV) He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” on another occasion Jesus said, “Unless you believe that I Am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins,” (John 8.24 NLT).
Followers of Jesus hold steadfastly that Jesus is the only way. That exclusivity is what often gets pushback from people. The reason, “There are lots of religions in the world and many good, well-meaning people. How can Jesus be the only way?”
I remember sharing this truth with a woman several years ago. Growing up as a diplomat’s daughter, she had traveled all around the world and lived in several cultures. When I told her that Jesus was the only way, she retorted, “such a statement was hubris and arrogant.”
Why do followers of Jesus believe that He is the only way?
Jesus claimed to be God.
In John 10, Jesus is engaged in a heated exchange with the religious leaders of His day. Jesus had just healed a man who was born blind, but He did it on the Sabbath day of rest when work was prohibited. Thus, these leaders were concerned more with Jesus breaking a Sabbath law than the incredible miracle of this man’s healing.
During this discussion, Jesus said these words: “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly,” (John 10.7-10 ESV). Jesus was making a claim that He (and He alone) was the doorway, the pathway to God.
Jesus went on to say, “I am the good shepherd,” (John 10.11 ESV), “I give them eternal life and they will never perish,” (John 10.28 ESV), and “I and the Father are one,” (John 10.30 ESV). Jesus repeatedly claimed to be one with the Father and the exclusive giver of salvation and eternal life. And His enemies got the picture. They quickly picked up stones to kill Jesus on the spot. When Jesus asked why they were doing this, they said, “because you, being a man, make yourself God,” (John 10.33 ESV).
This wasn’t the first time Jesus had claimed to be the messiah, God in the flesh, and the only way to salvation. Jesus claimed to live before Abraham (John 8.58 ESV). Jesus claimed to exist with the Father in eternity past (John 17.5 ESV). Jesus claimed to be the First and the Last — a name for God (Revelation 1.17 ESV). Jesus claimed to be the judge of all the people(Matthew 25.31 ESV). Jesus claimed to forgive sin (Matthew 9.2-7 ESV). All the while, the religious leaders plotted to kill Jesus because he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God (John 5.18 ESV).
They wanted Jesus dead because He claimed to be God. But probably His most shocking claim came at His trial. When the high priest asked Jesus if He was the Christ, the Son of the Blessed, Jesus replied, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven,” (Mark 14.62 ESV). With that, they charged Jesus with blasphemy and sent Him to the cross.
Let me make this very clear… Jesus never claimed to be a good teacher, a moral leader, or a spiritual guru. Jesus made the audacious claim to be God in the flesh. That is why they killed Him! You might say, “Well, there have been many men who have made audacious claims to be God in the past. That doesn’t make it true!” And you would be right. So, is there any reason for us to believe what Jesus said is true?
Jesus fulfilled ancient prophecy.
In 1966, Barry Leventhal was on top of the world. As team captain, he led the UCLA football team to its first-ever Rose Bowl championship. He had it all — popularity, fame, success. Soon after the Rose Bowl victory, one of his closest friends became a follower of Jesus and introduced Barry to Hal, the director of Campus Crusade on the UCLA campus. Hal talked to Barry about the claim of Jesus to be the messiah. He even showed Barry prophecies about the coming messiah that Jesus fulfilled. In one of those discussions, Barry got angry! “You rewrote the Bible to make it look like Jesus fulfilled those prophecies. This can’t be true!” But several days later, Barry opened up his copy of the Scriptures and turned to Isaiah 53. He began to read about the messiah to come.
“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds, we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.”
(Isaiah 53.4-6 ESV)
It seemed so clear that these verses were speaking about Jesus. But were these verses tampered with, to make it look like Jesus had fulfilled them?
In 1947, a young Arab boy playing around a cave just west of the dead Sea made the discovery of a lifetime — the “Dead Sea Scrolls.” Contained in the find was one complete copy of the book of Isaiah. This copy dated back before the life of Jesus. While the original is kept secure in Israel, a copy is on display at the “Shrine of the Book” wing of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Do you know what they discovered? That copy of Isaiah 53 reads just like the one in your Bible. Seven hundred years before Jesus was born, Isaiah wrote that the Messiah would be anointed by the Spirit, be driven by justice, have an international ministry, and be a gifted teacher. Coming from humble beginnings, He would be discouraged and rejected, suffer, die a substitutionary death, and later come back to life. That sounds a lot like Jesus!
But that is not the only prophecy that points to Jesus. Prophecies about the Messiah said that He would be of Jewish linage(Genesis 12.3 ESV), from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49.10 ESV), of the house of David (Jeremiah 23.5-6 ESV), born of a virgin (Isaiah 7.14 ESV), and born in Bethlehem (Micah 5.2 ESV). He would come out of Egypt (Hosea 11.1 ESV), live in Nazareth (Isaiah 11.1 ESV), and minister in Galilee (Isaiah 9.1-2 ESV). He would speak in parables (Psalm 78.2-4 ESV), be praised (Psalm8.2), and called King (Psalm 2.6 ESV). He would be betrayed by a friend and sold for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11.12-13 ESV), His hands and side would be pierced (Psalm 22.16 ESV), no bones would be broken (Psalm 22.17 ESV), and He would be forsaken by God (Psalm 22.1 ESV).
Throughout His life, Jesus fulfilled approximately 353 ancient prophecies written hundreds of years before His birth, identifying Him as the messiah.
Jesus died for our sin.
Jesus fulfilled prophecy and claimed to be the messiah for one reason: so He could suffer on the cross as a once and for all sacrifice for your sin and mine. Aside from Jesus, there is no such thing as a perfect person. We are all guilty of sin. No one is innocent, (1 John 1.8; Romans 3.10-18 ESV).
According to God’s law, our sin must be punished. No matter how good you try to be, you can never be good enough to erase the sins of your past, any more than your efforts to be a good parent can erase a speeding ticket. We are sinful! We are guilty! And the punishment is death and separation from God.
(Romans 6.23 ESV) says, “For the wages of sin is death…” What we need is forgiveness, but forgiveness isn’t possible unless someone pays sin’s penalty.
(Hebrews 9.22 ESV) states, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” This is what Jesus came to do. on the cross, Jesus absorbed the punishment for your sin so that you could be forgiven and made clean again.
(1 Peter 3.18 NLT) says, “Christ suffered for our sins once for all time.” He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. If there was another way to have our sins forgiven, then Jesus’ death would have been meaningless. He would have suffered for no reason, and He would have lied by telling people that He was the only way back to God.
The real question is not, “Why is Jesus the only way?” The real question is, “Why is there any way at all?” It is only by God’s mercy and grace that He has made a way for us to be right with Him, and that act of mercy is found in Jesus alone.
Jesus rose from the dead.
The resurrection of Jesus was also prophesied in the Old Testament Scriptures. King David wrote under the leading of the Holy Spirit, “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol [place of the dead], or let your holy one see corruption,” (Psalm 16.10 ESV).
Even the scroll of Isaiah predicts that the messiah, the Holy one, will be brought back to life (Isaiah 53.10-12, 52.13-15 ESV).
Jesus also said this would happen. “For this reason, the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again,” (John 10.17-18 ESV).
The facts concerning Jesus’ resurrection are irrevocable. Jesus died on the cross. Jesus’ body was placed under guard in a tomb. Three days later, Jesus’ body was missing and as many as 500 people at one time gave corroborated eyewitness testimony that they saw Jesus alive over a forty-day period. These facts were written down in some of the most ancient creeds we have that date back to just a few years after the death of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15.3-7 ESV). The early Christians were so committed to the truth of these facts that they willingly gave up their lives rather than saying it wasn’t true. How do you explain that?
Jesus changed history.
Jesus has forever changed the world. millions of lives have been transformed by the power of the message of Jesus. Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy at Boston College, wrote: “Why did thousands suffer torture and death for this lie if they knew it was a lie? What force sent Christians to the lions’ den with hymns on their lips? What lie ever transformed the world like that?”
Millions of people have been radically changed by Jesus Christ. These people have been willing to live for Jesus, to share what Jesus has done for them with others, and even to suffer and die for His name. C.S. Lewis, the Oxford scholar, wrote, “You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call Him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”