' the WAY '
Did you know that Christians have not always been called “ Christians ” ?
The earliest apprentices of Jesus only became known by this title , later in the first century A.D. , in the large, ethnically diverse, Syrian capital of Antioch ( Acts 11:26 ) . It’s even likely that the term “ Christian ” was used by Antioch’s general population not as a good thing, but as a derogatory name for these followers of Jesus. The title of “ Christians ” was given because this group of Jews and Gentiles were followers of a man named Jesus , who was believed by His followers, to be the Christos , Moshiach meaning “ the anointed one , ” or the Messiah, “shalom aleichem,” “peace unto you.”
"ALL TRUTH UPON YOU," clothed by the Power from On-High, THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH,
Throughout the pages of the New Testament these earliest of believers also used other names for themselves like “ saints , ” “ brothers, ” and “ disciples , ” but what THE FIRST FOLLOWERS OF JESUS wanted to be known as, was The ' the Way' meant so much more than just a name !
The earliest self-identification they had of ' The Way' referred to What and Who they were following. They described something so dynamic, so very PERSONAL, so very LIFE CHANGING, that it was to them the ultimate LIFE DETERMINING EVENT ! When explaining themselves they revealed an extreme ignition to their heart and soul, an awakening, that definitely shook each one of them to their very core ! The experience occurred by being followers of God’s “ the Way ” or in Hebrew ‘ derekh ’ ( Acts 9:2; 11:26 ) . This description was so world significant . . . yet over time has sadly become hidden !
In describing what we call “ Believers,” these first followers of Jesus made a radical claim about the Person and Work of Jesus, so remarkable and worthy of attention . . . Jesus was not just a man . . . JESUS IS ETERNITY itself, THE FINAL CULMINATION OF ALL THINGS WITH GOD !
THE SUMMATION OF ALL THINGS IN HOLINESS AND RIGHTEOUSNESS ! GOD'S FULLNESS TO THE HIGHEST MEASURE AND EXTREME ! GOD'S REST ! GOD'S COMPLETED WORK, FINAL PERFECTION !
INTERESTINGLY Torah was ‘The Way’ DEREKH
The Hebrew people ( and their own Scriptures ) have employed the word “ Torah ” to describe not only the first five books of the Old Testament ( Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy ), but also the entire collection of 39 books which make up the Old Testament. And while English translators often bring the Hebrew word “Torah” over into English Bibles as “ decrees, ” “ judgments, ” “ commands, ” or simply “ law, ” there’s a much more holistic understanding of Torah. The Torah is ‘ derekh ’, God’s self-revelation given to humanity. And it conveys much more than just true principles and propositions ( though it does contain that too ) it is all about God Himself and all things entering God's Rest - His perimeters of safety, protection, sanctuary, refuge and tabernacle with us . . . a blueprint and complete measure of all of God with us, in complete perfection.
Torah has been classically understood by the Hebrew people as laying out the way ‘ derekh ’ in which Israel might THRIVE - experience true achievement and flourish. The book of Proverbs displays a constant refrain to the recipient ( “my son” ) to embrace the way to wisdom ( the particular 32 pathways to wisdom ) being passed down in order that he might experience full life accomplishment ( human fulfillment , to thrive ). So, Torah, or God’s Word, comes to be viewed as the singular way in which Israel was to live in order for humans to excel by experiencing God Himself. “ So,” you can see, “why early believers chose the name "the Way" ‘ derekh ’ for themselves ”, ( something marvelous happened to them - a wonderful Power from On High and Oneness with God,God's heart impressed upon them by His heart in them ) !
Jesus is ‘The Way’, BY REVELATION - means we 'see' and we 'know' God as our very existence, our life !
Think about how radical to the Jewish mind it was when Jesus of Nazareth stated, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life." " No one comes to the Father except through Me." " If you really know Me, you will know My Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him, " BY REVELATION ( John 14:6-7 ) . Jesus was putting Himself not only on the same level as Torah, but as the surpassing fulfillment of Torah ( we know as the Law ! ) .
JESUS asserted that, only as one accessed God the Father through Himself, the Person of Jesus, that, that one, could expect to have an intimate close relationship with the Father ( ABBA, ABI ). He daringly maintained that our human situation would be completely transformed and marvelously fulfilled. . . thrive, entertaining true enlightenment, but amazingly . . . only be realized by coming in contact with Him, Jesus, 'THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE ! '
You see, this is one primary way in which Jesus differentiates Himself from other human religious leaders / thinkers ( Krishna, Buddha, Muhammad, Moses, etc. ). Such religious icons claim to be “ way-show-ers ” or “ signposts.” That is, they point away from themselves and to the end , or goal of human highest life attainment. But none claims to actually be “ the way ”, in and of Himself. [ Jesus ] was not just another signpost, but the destination to which the signposts had led.” So, in the midst of the common “ way-show-er ” model of religious leading, Jesus comes along and boasts quite dramatically that, ( 1 ) all human sins are, at their root, a sin against Himself ( Mk 2:1-12; Lk 7:36-50 ), THEY ARE UNABLE [ verbs raʿah ("to see"), and yadaʿ ("to know") ] , and that ( 2 ) He will return at the end of time to be the final judge of all human beings, and that the nature of their judgment will be dependent on how people have responded to Himself ( John 5:22, 28, 29; Mathew 25:31-46 ) [ verbs raʿah ("to see"), and yadaʿ ("to know") ] BY REVELATION - means we 'see' and we 'know' God as our very existence, our life ! OUR ETERNITY !
It can’t easily be doubted then that Jesus described Himself as ‘the Way’ BY REVELATION (that God is REAL) to man and therefore, the WAY TO EVERLASTING LIFE , by seeing, by knowing Him !
“ God so Loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever would believe, would have Everlasting Life ” ( John 3:16 ) Would have Jesus, all that God is, IN THEM.
Jesus’ Apprentices were Followers of ‘The Way’
These first Jewish “ Believers ” then, understood Jesus to be equal with, even superior to, in purpose,to Torah—God’s self-revelation to humanity. GOD IS REAL. This is what prompts Jesus’ closest follower, John, in his Gospel to write, “In the beginning was the Word [ logos ], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . .The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” (John 1:1, 14). Jesus is the divine logos, Word, the true Torah, Who makes God the Father BY REVELATION known not just in His words or declarations, but in His very personal presence. He is “ the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being . . . His Fullness ” ( Heb 1:3 ), only because “ God was pleased to have all His Fullness to dwell in Him [ Jesus, so we can see and know God ], and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross ” ( Col 1:19, 20 ) . THE SACRIFICE WAS EXACTLY GIVING OF GREAT VALUE. LIFE ITSELF, TO REDEEM LIFE. Jesus [ Yeshua ] means ‘ God’s Salvation ’ BY REVELATION the HIGHEST VALUE AND FULLNESS OF GOD - THE REDEMPTION FOR ALL CREATION !
Jesus said , ( Matthew 5:17,18 ) 17 “ Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets ; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill . 18 For truly I tell you , and if heaven and earth could pass away, not one letter,not one stroke of a letter , will pass from the law until all is accomplished . "
Jesus is TESHUVAH , the ( reconciliation ) returning of all things to God’s PERFECTION .
The theme of Hebrew High Holidays was TESHUVAH , a word often translated as “ repentance,” though it’s more accurately understood as turning back ( shuv ) to God . In modern Hebrew TESHUVAH- means an “ answer ” to a shelah , or a question. God’s Love for us is the question, and our teshuvah -our turning back to God , our turning of our heart toward Him - is the answer ! WE SEE YOU . . .WE KNOW YOU !
WE KNOW WHO WE ARE - WE ARE GOD'S !
TESHUVAH - is the culmination to God’s Perfect Plan of Redemption ! To see God, know God and be with God , by God, forever .
This is why Believers , or followers of the Way , have the most highly exalted view of Jesus possible . It would be inappropriate , even blasphemous , to offer worship to a mere mortal creature . But what about this Jesus , the God-man ? What are we to make of one who , claiming to be “ the gate , ” then asserts that “ all who ever came before Me, ” and all who “climb in by some other way” are “ thieves and robbers ” ( John 10:1-10 ) ? What other response besides worship and adoration is appropriate for the One Who was “ before all things , and in [ Whom ] all things hold together ” ( Col 1:17 ) ?
GOD HIMSELF . God’s self-revelation given to US , JESUS !
To be a “ Believer , ” Jesus ’ contemporaries understood, means nothing more and nothing less than throwing one’s entire life in to follow , and be identified with , the One Who is the only door into which anyone may enter SALVATION and ETERNITY, knowing our very life is God BY REVELATION- means
we ' see' and we 'know' God as our very existence, our life ! OUR ETERNITY !
To be a Believer , for us too then , is to recognize that Jesus is quite simply , the only Way , and not something that is going to happen , but what has already occurred !
Jesus is the complete and full revelation of God . He was born as a baby to perform a most magnificent revelation to us, Emmanuel , “ God with us , ” and to be the same as us BY REVELATION . John says : “ As Jesus is, so are we in this world . ” We are a very vital part of the same FAMILY OF GOD . BECAUSE WE ARE IN GOD'S FAMILY WE ENJOY THE COMPLETENESS OF GOD - OUR FATHER , THAT HE PROVIDES US - AS SONS AND DAUGHTERS - THE CLOSEST , MOST INTIMATE , MOST SIGNIFICANT RELATIONSHIP !
The most wonderful understanding about coming to God is to know that we too, ( as Jesus is , so are we ) ‘ the same ’, we are the revelation of God to all creation . . . our purpose and destiny .
BY REVELATION , is an act whereby the hidden, unknown God is disclosed ,God shows Himself to man , to us . To be sure , this phenomenon belongs to the realm of human reality , and to us right now , but it is experienced to us as coming straight from God . Simple logical understanding is that all existence has a starting point , an unveiling in a revelation . The ancient Hebrews expressed this idea in different ways . In their language the reflexive form , nifʿal , of the verb galah ( means in Hebrew " to uncover, reveal " ) , it was used only rarely to denote divine revelation ( Gen. 35:7; I Sam. 2:27; 3:21 ) . In the biblical tradition , revelation consists less in the disclosing of a secret or a mystery , and more in the manifestation of the invisible God, unknowable to man or us on our own. This view of revelation results unmistakably from the widespread use of the [ nifʿal (root) of the Hebrew verbs raʿah ( " to see " ) , and yadaʿ ( " to know " ) ] , to express in biblical Hebrew the idea of a personal real revelation by God Himself to us - and that means we now 'see' and we now 'know' God disclosed to us by a heart revelation inside of us , imprinted into our very own existence , and unveiled as our life !
THUS , “ WHEN YOU SEE . . .YOU SEE ! ”, UNQUESTIONABLY UNMISTAKABLY GOD IS REVEALED TO YOU AND YOU KNOW YOU ARE GOD'S BY GOD IMPRINTING HIMSELF IN YOU !
The deepest , highest most extreme magnificent energy , power and glory , life and love of God Himself ! All of His Heart , All of His Soul , All of His Spirit , All of His Mind , All of His Might . . . in us - JESUS , THE FULLNESS OF GOD !
Christ, to whom, in whom, and for whom are all things will reconcile all things unto God (Colossians 1:15-20) . He makes all things new . ( Rev. 21:5 ) Hence His work is the restitution of all things ( Acts 3:21 ) ; He is Heir of all things ( Hebrews 1:2 ) ; in Him not only all nations will be blessed ( Galatians 3:8 ) , but even every family of the earth will be blessed ( Gen 12:32 ; 28:14 ) ; for the Father has given Him authority over all flesh , to give to whosoever was given to Him eternal life ( John 17:2 ) ; and so all flesh shall see the salvation of God ( Luke 3:6 ) since the Father has given all things into His hands . ( John 3:35 ) Therefore , contrary to popular Christian opinion , we do not find billions in a Hell cursing God but we find every creature which is in heaven , and on earth , and UNDER the earth saying blessing and honour and glory and power be unto Him that sits upon the throne and unto the Lamb ( Rev. 5:13 ) . We find every knee of things in heaven and earth , and under the earth , bends to Him and every tongue confesses Him as their Lord ( Philippians 2:10 ) and we know that no one can confess Jesus as Lord except by the Holy Spirit ( 1 Cor. 12:3 ) .
GOD'S VERY FIRST COMMANDMENT : " THOU SHALT LOVE THY GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL , WITH ALL OF YOUR SPIRIT , WITH ALL YOUR MIND , WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT " : AND IS ACCOMPLISHED BY GOD , HIMSELF IN US . . . WITH ALL HIS HEART, WITH ALL HIS SOUL, WITH ALL OF HIS SPIRIT , WITH ALL HIS MIND , WITH ALL HIS MIGHT IMPRESSED UPON US !