Right after the Last Supper, after Judas Iscariot had left the room, Christ gave a farewell speech to his disciples. He promised them that he would prepare a place for them all in heaven, the place where he was about to go. He also spoke about the way to get there.
However, they struggled to understand what exactly he was talking about. As Pope St John Paul II said: “The Apostle Thomas expresses the anxiety which we all feel when we meditate on what Jesus is saying. He asks: “How can we know the way?” And it is precisely in answer to this question that Jesus expresses the full meaning of his messianic role: “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life”.”
This three-part expression, which spells out that Christ himself is the way to heaven, is one of the most famous of his ‘I am’ sayings. Pope St John Paul II once reflected on the meaning of the three parts of this mystical catchphrase.
He began: “Jesus is our Way. The way of Jesus through life was not one of his own choosing but the one the Father had chosen for him. He followed it unswervingly and humbly, even to death on the Cross. In so doing, Jesus became the way for us. Only loving acceptance like his leads to the Father. We follow the way that is Jesus when, like him, we let the Father lead us back to himself by the paths that he knows are best for us.”
He went on: “Jesus is our Truth. He himself stated that everything he said he had learned from his Father. “The Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak”. And since the Father’s word is truth, Jesus speaks the truth. In fact Jesus is the truth. For he is everything the Father has to say: he is the Father’s Word. Only he can restore true sight to our distorted vision so that we can see and know God, ourselves and our world in truth.”
The pope then added: “Finally, Jesus is our Life. By emptying himself on the Cross he received the fullness of the Father’s gift: “All that I have is yours, and all you have is mine”. Lifted up on the Cross before the world, Jesus is filled with life by the Father and raised up to be the source of life for all who believe in him.”
This large wall hanging, which pictures Christ with this gospel saying, is found within the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool. It was designed and created by Sister Anthony Wilson, the former artistic director of the Cathedral, in its art studio.
In keeping with the dedication of the cathedral, the tapestry portrays Christ as a king. Seated on a throne, he is surrounded by a ‘mandorla’, an oval-shaped frame, as a symbol of his divinity. Notice how he is crowned with a cross rather than a crown, which lies at his feet.
Around the tapestry are different New Testament scenes that relate to Christ as a king. This includes an image of him as the Good Shepherd, riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, on trial before Pontius Pilate and as a conquering king, as described in the book of Revelation. This last scene is picked up in Christ’s robe, which describes him as ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’ (cf Revelation 19:11-16).
See the full image:
Where to find this work of art
Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool
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On a similar theme
- From the Old Testament: When Moses received the Law on Mount Sinai, he was previously a mediator between God and the people (Galatians 3:19). Now that mediator is Christ (cf 1 Timothy 2:5).
- From the New Testament: The phrase is reflected in another of Christ’s sayings about his identity, that he is ‘the Resurrection and the Life’