"I've always been taught that Jesus was a good man and that we can find our way to heaven by following His principles," Brenda said as she and Tanya discussed religion.
"I never dreamed that English grammar would help me to learn more about God," Tanya told Brenda.
"What? That's crazy!" Brenda exclaimed. "Can you explain?"
"Well, I learned about concrete words and absolute expressions in my grammar class, and I found many in the Bible," Tanya explained, "especially words about Jesus."
"Do you remember learning about concrete expressions when we studied grammar in high school?"
"Not really," Brenda said.
"A concrete word or expression is one in which there can be only one meaning. It is specific--like Oldsmobile or Ford, which are concrete--instead of 'car,' which is less specific," Tanya said.
"M-m-m-m," Brenda nodded a bit doubtfully, trying to remember.
"Well, look at this verse," Tanya said, flipping pages in her Bible until she came to the Gospel of John. "Here it is in John 14:6." She began to read: "'Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me"'" (NIV).
"But Jesus isn't the only way to God," Brenda exclaimed. "There are many other religious leaders who give us good principles to live by."
"It's true that many give us good principles," Tanya said, "but there is only one Savior. Now listen to the grammar part."
"Okay, but this sounds weird," Brenda answered.
"Here's the good part about Jesus," Tanya went on. "When Jesus uses 'I,' that excludes everyone else. Jesus says in this verse that He is exclusively the way to God, because the word I is specific."
"Huh!" Brenda exclaimed in partial disbelief.
"There are even more absolute expressions in His claim about himself," Tanya continued. "Look, He uses the absolute article the."
"Article?" Brenda looked blank.
"Yes, you remember," Tanya tapped Brenda's arm, "from your grammar class! There are three articles: a, an, and the. A and an are non-specific. They can mean 'one of many.' If Jesus had said, 'I am a way, a truth, and a life,' He would have meant He was one path to God among many others. However, He used the concrete word the to show He is the only way."
"Interesting!" Brenda said.
"There's more!" Tanya went on. "He said, 'No one comes to the Father except through me.' Those two terms exclude anyone else, don't they?"
Brenda looked thoughtful.
"Jesus knew He was the Son of God," Tanya explained. "His Father had spoken in an audible voice at Jesus' water baptism: 'You are my Son, whom I love' (Mark 1:11). When Jesus washed the disciples' feet, the Scripture says, 'Jesus knew . . . that he had come from God' (John 13:3). He is the only pure sacrifice for our sin."
"Yeah, but a lot of crazy people have claimed to be God, or at least to know the way to Him," Brenda objected.
"That's true, but they've proven themselves to be foolish. Jesus was either the greatest fool on earth, or He was the Son of God as He claimed. We can't say, 'Yes, He was a good man, but he deceived us when He said He was God's Son.' He was either the Son of God, as He claimed to be, or the greatest deceiver the world has ever known."
"M-m-m," Brenda nodded. "It sounds logical."
"Each of us must decide for herself," Tanya said, "who is our Savior."
(Continued in Part 2.)