I don't know Greek. Yet I can say I am fascinated by the thought of Jesus' statement as it sounds in Greek: Ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ὁδὸς (Eg-o' i-mee' ho hod-os'): "I am the way." I realize that Jesus probably said these words first in Aramaic, but I am sure they were repeated around the Mediterranean during those first, burgeoning decades of the Church in Greek. One of the fundamental lessons for early Christians would have been this statement of Jesus, explaining that he was, and is, the Way.
We can estimate the importance of this statement by the term the early church used to speak of itself -- The Way. In fact, it seems from reading Acts that before there even existed a term for "Christianity," there existed this term, "the Way." In Acts 9, for instance, Saul wasn't hunting down Christians -- he was seeking out those "who belonged to the Way," the hodos.
In The Didache, an ancient written teaching of the church dating anywhere from 50-90 A.D., we again encounter the concept of the Way. The document, which would have acted as a sort of early handbook for Christians, begins with this intriguing statement: "There are two ways: one is the Way of Life, the other is the Way of Death; and there is a mighty difference between these two ways." In The Didache the new Christian is not advised to follow his or her church, or even something called "Christianity," but instead, to follow the Way (or in this case, specifically, the Way of Life).
Imagine...what if we had remained, simply, the Way? What if instead of adding layer upon layer onto our beliefs and splitting into various sects and following after side issues and ideas, we, the Church, had simply remained The Way, dedicated to one thing only, and that being to follow Jesus the Christ, the Way, the Truth, the Life. What if we could reclaim that focus? What a church we could be!
During Holy Week, these words of Jesus, spoken as they were at the Last Supper, should especially resonate for us. "I am the way the truth and the life." The great British poet George Herbert, pondering this sentence, wrote:
Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life :Such a Way, indeed. Let us remember Christ's words, echoing through the ages, and let us follow the hodos, the Way, together.
Such a Way, as gives us breath :
Such a Truth, as ends all strife :
And such a Life, as killeth death.
(From "The Call," 1633)