Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Either Jesus is who he says he is (in which case we are obliged to give our whole lives to him), or he is a madman (in which case we should be against him).
What does not remain, as C.S. Lewis saw so clearly, is the bland middle position that, though he isn’t divine, he is a good, kind, and wise ethical teacher. If he isn’t who he says he is, then he isn’t admirable at all.
Thus Jesus compels a choice in a manner that no other religious founder does. The Buddha could claim that he had found a way that he wanted to share with his followers, but Jesus said, “I am the way.” Mohammed could say that, through him, the final divine truth had been communicated to the world, but Jesus said, “I am the truth.” Confucius could maintain that he had discovered a new and uplifting form of life, but Jesus said, “I am the life.” And thus, we are either with Jesus or we are against him. No other founder forces that choice as clearly as Jesus does.