OST is closed for business but its spirit survives on my blog.
Is it entirely right and proper to assume that every time Jesus refers to himself as the ‘Son of Man’, and possibly in his use of the words ‘glory’/’glorified’, he is invoking Daniel 7:13? Why shouldn’t he also be referring to ‘Son of Man’ as in Ezekiel, the prophet, God’s servant, or even just ‘Son of Man’ generically, as ‘one like a man’, or ‘one who is very man’, or ‘the representative of man’?
In John 14:6, we could also take account of how Jesus’s words are used elsewhere in the gospel.
The sevenfold repetition of I am (bread of life; light of the world; the gate; good shepherd; resurrection and the life; the way, the truth and the life; the true vine), and the climactic ‘before Abraham was born, I am’, draw attention to the association Jesus makes between himself and the ‘I am’ of God. This is an association which is elsewhere underscored by his praxis, as the person and place where forgiveness and cleansing were to be found, demonstrating that he is the new temple (John 2:19-22), the place and the person in whom the Father was now to be found. He is the one, John declares, who ‘tabernacled’ amongst us (John 14:1), reminding us of the tabernacle as the place of God’s dwelling amongst Israel in the desert. In the renewed people of God, he is the chief cornerstone of the temple - or the one who holds the whole building together.
The way might remind us of ‘the narrow (thlibo) way’ Matthew 7:14, and possibly the proclamation by John from Isaiah - ‘Make straight the way for the Lord’ - John 1:23. It certainly finds an echo in Acts - ‘instructed in the way of the Lord’ - Acts 18:25; ‘explained to him the way of God more adequately’ - Acts 18:26; ‘publicly maligned the way’ - Acts 19:9; ‘a great disturbance about the way’ - Acts 19:23. The way acquired a meaning which was wider than simply ‘the way of suffering through following in Jesus’s footsteps’ (though that must have been part of the meaning). It had come to mean a way of being the people of God which did not require initiation into Judaism, observance of the Torah, and the focus on the temple at Jerusalem as the expression of God’s presence amongst his people.
Jesus’s self-identification as the truth reminds us of his debate with the Jews in John 8, where truth is opposed to the lies the Jews were telling about him, but which is taken further, in Jesus’s description of his teaching as the truth; that the Jews are in slavery because of their slavery to sin and that Jesus himself could set them free from this slavery; that they are not true children of Abraham, for all their racial pedigree; that those who keep his words will never see death; that he is greater than Abraham who died; that he not only pre-existed Abraham, who rejoiced at seeing his day, but that he prexisted Abraham as God - the ‘I am’ (for which the Jews picked up stones to stone him).
The life reminds us of the frequent occasions in John that the word life is used, perhaps best summed up in John 5:26 as the very life of God which is also the life of the Son, to whom authority has been given to grant life (5:25). This life is the life of the Spirit (John 6:63), given to those who believe (verse 64) at the ascension (verse 62).
For these reasons, it seems that it is right and proper to understand John 14:6 as exclusivist, historical, and also universal truth. But I wouldn’t want to be thought of as a very right and proper little evangelical, or worse, even a modernist evangelical.