When Yeshua says, “No one comes to the Father except through me,”1 most Christians hear it as “I am the gatekeeper. In order to approach the Father, you must first seek and find me. Then I will grant you admission to the Father.” It is as though he is the doorman at a trendy nightclub judging whether an applicant for admission is attractive enough for the venue.
A preacher I used to know, whenever he saw an unfamiliar face on Sunday morning, would have the congregation sing as many verses of Just as I Am, as necessary to make the newcomer break loose from his pew and answer the altar call and come forward if only to make it stop. Meanwhile, over the music, he would warn about the consequences, should the visitor die that night. I do not think that that was what Yeshua meant.
Two chapters earlier2, he tells his followers, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” Since we see clearly that not “all people” are drawn to him, then the “all” here is not “all without exception,” but of the set of those who are drawn, he draws all of them. Many Christians report having had a personal encounter with Yeshua in their “born again” experience. There are stories in recent years of Muslims coming to faith in Messiah after a dream in which Yeshua, or Isa in Arabic, appears to them. Unless and until he draws you, and you respond affirmatively, you do not “come to the Father.”
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give to them life in the age to come, and they will absolutely not perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.3
Messiah does nothing on his own initiative, but teaches, heals, and speaks as the Father shows and commands him.4 The Father gives him his sheep. They will hear and recognize his voice, as least eventually.
In order to respond, we must have heard and trusted the Word5. We must have received a love of the truth.6 It is not that we must seek him out. It is he who must draw us. Yeshua only does the Father’s will. The Father “wants everyone to be saved and to come to a full knowledge of the truth.”7 Even more than for everyone to be saved, the Father wills that we have free will. He will not force salvation on anyone, but He makes it available to everyone. Indeed, the Psalmist, tells us that Yehovah “is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth,”8 and who have a broken heart and crushed spirit. (Ps 34:18).
Psalm 119 is 176 verses long, and every verse contains a synonym for the Word of God. These words include, law/instruction (torah), testimonies, (edah), precepts (piqudim), commandments (mitzvot), judgments (mishpatim), statutes (choq), word/speech (dabar, memrah), ways (derekh, orech). These are all communications from the Creator to His people by means of words. They all describe the Word, the Logos.
God’s Word (logos) is truth9; God’s law (Torah) is truth;10 God’s Word (davar) is light11 (or); the Law (Torah) is light12; Yehovah’s judgments are true and righteous;13 God’s wisdom is a tree of life;14 His commandments are truth;15 His speech is life;16 His works are truth, His ways are judgment;17 His ways (derekh) are how we are to walk;18 we are to walk as Yeshua walked. To walk in God’s ways is to walk in His statutes, commandments and judgments.20 Things equal to the same thing are equal to each other.
How did Yeshua walk? He did nothing of himself, but as the Father showed him;21 his word (logos) was not his own, but the Father’s;22 he was “meek and lowly” Matt 11:29); he always did what pleased the Father;23 he never transgressed the Law.24
I suggest that since he so perfectly lived the Torah (as delivered through Moses and not according to the Pharisees’ changes), that he was the Torah, Logos, Way, Truth, Life, Wisdom, made flesh. He was a “man approved of God,” “the last Adam,” not a pre-existing spirit-being who decided to become “incarnated.” He so lived the Father’s will, walking in His ways, walking in the Torah of Truth, walking in life-giving wisdom, that he is our example. We are instructed to walk “as he walked.”.25 It was in his capacity as the Torah/Logos made flesh that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life, leading us to the Father.
The context around “no one comes to the Father except through me” is this:
“Do not let your heart be troubled. Continue to trust in God and continue to trust in me. In my Father’s house are many places to live. If it were not so, I would have told you, for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will receive you to myself so that where I am you will be also. And where I am going, you know the way.”
Thomas says to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
Jesus says 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 know him, and have seen him.”
Philip says to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”
Jesus says to him, “Have I been such a long time with you, and do you not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ Do you not believe that I am in union with the Father, and the Father is in union with me? The words that I am saying to you I am not speaking from myself, but the Father living in union with me does his works.”26
Yeshua is our example for how to walk in the Father’s ways, since he always did the Father’s will. While he never transgressed Torah, he frequently went out of his way to violate man-made religious rules.
We are instructed to trust God and walk in His ways. “[W]ithout trust it is impossible to please him, for whoever comes to God must believe that he is, and that he rewards those who seek him.”27 If we trust our Father, we will understand that what He asks of us is not burdensome,28 but for our good.29 His instruction is not too hard for us;30 Messiah’s yoke is easy and his burden is light.31 Human-instituted rules and regulations can easily become an unbearable and discouraging burden, but God’s Torah is a delight.32 We walk in God’s ways, not to earn salvation, which is impossible, but in obedience trusting that what He asks of us is for our good.
Humans were not designed to do nothing but work every day of our lives; we need Sabbath rest. Shellfish were not designed to be food for people; they were designed to cleanse the waters they inhabit. Marital intimacy is a holy act mirroring the relationship between the Creator and His people; promiscuity is tantamount to idolatry. Private property is the foundation of prosperity; theft and socialism result in poverty and misery. Torah teaches us how to live our lives and how to order a righteous society. But salvation is now, and always has been, “by grace through faith (trust).”33
Trusting God is not passively “having faith” and internally believing a set of propositions, but rather actively walking in His ways, confident that following His instructions brings good. Abraham trusted God and left his homeland and relatives behind and went to claim the Promised Land. He didn’t just sit there “having faith.” He got up and went.
When Yeshua says, “Come to me, all you who are laboring and have been loaded down with burdens, and I will give you rest,”34 his sheep will hear his voice and come. His sheep are the ones the Father gives him. Yeshua says further, “that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.”35 Breaking loose from your seat and going forward merely so the service can end, and we all go to lunch is not coming to the Father through the Messiah.
Just as he called his disciples individually when the Father showed him that it was that disciple’s time, when the time is right for an individual to come into the body, the Father gives the ability to come and Yeshua draws him in. Thus, no one comes to the Father except through Yeshua.
1 John 14:6 REV. Unless otherwise marked, Scripture quotations are from the Revised English Version.
3 John 10:27-29.
4 John 8:28, 42, 10:18, 12:49, 14:10, etc.
5 Rom 10:14.
6 2 Thes 2:10.
7 1 Tim 2:4.
8 Ps 145:18.
9 John 17:17.
10 Ps 119:142.
11 Ps 119:105.
12 Pro 6:23.
13 Ps 19:9.
14 Pro 3:18.
15 Psa 119:151.
16 Deut 8:3, Matt 4:4, Luke 4:4.
17 Dan 4:37.
18 1 Kg 2:3.
19 1 John 2:6.
20 1Kg 3:14, 11:38.
21 John 8:28.
22 John 14:24.
23 John 8:29.
24 John 8:46, 1 John 3:4.
25 1 John 2:6.
26 John 14:1-10.
27 Heb 11:6.
28 1 John 5:3.
29 Deut 10:13.
30 Deut 30:11-14.
31 Matt 11:30.
32 Psa 119:70, 77, 174.
33 Eph 2:8.
34 Matt 11:28.
35 John 6:65.