I was at an Episcopal funeral service recently and something puzzled me. The gospel reading was from John 14:1-6a. The puzzling part comes from the "a". For those of you who do not know, when you are citing to only the first part of a verse you denote that with an "a" following the verse number. Similarly, when citing only the last part of a verse, that is denoted with a "b." So this gospel reading stopped in the middle of verse 6.
Why is that particularly puzzling? Here is John 14:6: "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"
The reading proudly declared that Jesus is "the way and the truth and the life," but stopped short of affirming "No one comes to the Father except through me." Over the past 24 hours I have pondered what possible reason there could have been for stopping right in the middle of this verse. Perhaps there is some innocent explanation. But given the trend in many churches today, I am left wondering.
Jesus clearly declared that His way was the only way. His was a claim of exclusivity. In our postmodern culture, many people find that to be offensive, so far too many churches have watered down the gospel and slip into a practical universalism. We all are simply expressing different paths up the same mountain, so to speak.
This may be a less offensive message, but it clearly is not what Jesus taught. Truth, by its very nature, is exclusive. This is one of the most vigorously resisted, yet easily proven propositions in the marketplace today. Simply put, to disagree is to argue "It is exclusively true that truth is not exclusive," obviously an unsupportable argument.
So Jesus' statement was a most reasonable one. The only pertinent inquiry is whether it was true.
This is why I am left sratching my head. I have tried to come up with some reason why the reading would have stopped right in the middle of such a prominent and important verse.