May 10, 2020 [Easter 5]  John 14:1-12  J.D.Roekle

 

        “Do not let your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that you may also be where I am. 4You know where I am going, and you know the way.”

           5“Lord, we don’t know where you are going,” Thomas replied, “so how can we know the way?”

           6Jesus said to him, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through me. 7If you know me, you would also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

           8“Lord,” said Philip, “show us the Father, and that is enough for us.”

           9“Have I been with you so long,” Jesus answered, “and you still do not know me, Philip? The one who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I am telling you I am not speaking on my own, but the Father who remains in me is doing his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me. Or else believe because of the works themselves.

           12“Amen, Amen, I tell you: The one who believes in me will do the works that I am doing. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.”

 

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life

 

Dear Friends in Christ,

          Like father, like son. How often does it happen that a son takes after his father?!  He may not intend to, but it happens.  As a young child, he begins to imitate his father.  He will often times have aspirations of doing just what dad does.  If dad’s a cop, he wants to be a cop.  If dad’s a plumber, the son wants to be a plumber.  Later on, when he doesn’t think his father is so smart anymore, he still unconsciously takes on certain characteristics of dad such as facial expressions, mannerisms, certain words or phrases that dad uses.  He also begins to think more and more like dad in many ways. So, if you know a man well, you can often see that man in his son, even if the son looks nothing like dad.

          Jesus has an even closer connection to his Father.  They are one from the beginning.  Cut from the same cloth.  They are inseparably linked.  If you know Jesus, the Son, you can’t help but know the Father.  Jesus even said: “I and the Father are one.” That’s why Jesus can say, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” In saying that, Jesus is giving us the greatest comfort we could receive.  With Jesus, we are on the right track!

 

In the First Lesson, we read about the Apostle Paul and Silas traveling through northern Greece.  This was Paul’s second journey of this nature.  This was a mission trip.  He was spreading the news about Jesus.  In the lesson, we heard how Paul and Silas arrived in Thessalonica and went to the Jewish synagogue just as they normally did.  It was there they felt they could connect with people who were waiting for the Messiah, the Savior. 

          And their efforts met mixed results.  Some of the Greek people listened to them and followed their teachings.  However, the Jews refused to listen to them and ended up running them out of town.  Why would this happen?  Because Paul and Silas were preaching a message that was exclusive, that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  In order to be connected to God, you need to be connected to Jesus. 

          This is a message that causes division today too.  There are many in the world who believe that there is one God and many ways of connecting with the one God.  But that clashes with Jesus words here which still apply to us today: “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.”  Let’s take a closer look at this exclusive statement of Jesus.

          When I went to Israel this past summer, we relied heavily on our guide.  He was a native of Jerusalem, born and raised there.  He was also a Christian, so he knew all the sites that we would be interested in.  He always knew where we were going and the best way to get there.  And when we arrived at various sites, he was the one to navigate us through those historical spots.  We wouldn’t have been able to visit as many places as we did in those 9 days in Israel without our guide. 

          Now let’s contrast that with Jesus.  Jesus is not merely a guide who is pointing out the way.  He isn’t like John the Baptist who showed the way by telling the people to repent and be baptized.  Jesus is the Way itself.  He is the path to being saved.  He doesn’t merely point to a path and say ‘go this way.’  He says ‘I am the path. Trust in me!’ 

And also, Jesus is not just ‘a’ way, as if there were other ways to be saved.  He makes it very clear that there is no other person to follow for salvation.  He also makes it clear that there is no other path to salvation including trying to do something to attain it.  The way to salvation is not trying your best.  It isn’t doing more good than bad.  The way to salvation is not comparing yourself with someone else and thinking that I’m not as bad as that person, so I’ll be okay.  No.  Jesus is the Way…the only Way. 

          Do you ever get lost?  When you do, you rely on a map or GPS or even another person to point you in the right direction.  When you feel lost in this world because of changing circumstances, remember “The Way.”  Remember that Jesus is “The Way.”  He reminds you of who you are and where you are headed.  You are a forgiven child of God.  Through faith in The Way, through faith in Jesus, you are on the right track no matter what happens around you. 

                    Jesus is the Way.  Jesus is the Way, because he is the Truth!

          A church mailing went out to people in the local community in Illinois. The object of the church mailing was to invite their neighbors to visit their “special community.”  They listed the ways they were unique:

  • No religious dogma—We encourage the freedom of individual thought and belief.
  • A humanist view of life—Our faith is based on celebrating the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
  • Warm, accessible services—Our Sunday services…typically include a mix of readings, music, moments of meditation or contemplation, and a sermon….
  • Our children's religious education program—We teach our kids to be accepting of differing beliefs and the importance of each person seeking his or her own truth. They study the world's major religions and draw on the core values of each faith tradition….
  • So, if you're looking for a congregation that cherishes freedom of belief and opinion, with a warm sense of community and fellowship, please visit us!

So, what’s the message here?  The message comes across loud and clear that you can believe anything you want because truth is relative.  Truth is whatever you think it is. 

What do you think about a message like that?  Think about the uncertainty you would have to live with day in and day out.  Maybe my fellow member’s truth is right and my truth is wrong. 

How comforting it is to hear Jesus say that he is “The Truth.”  He doesn’t say that he is “a” truth, as if there are many truths.  He is The Truth.  Absolute Truth.  Also, Jesus doesn’t say simply that he has the truth or points to the truth.  That would put him on par with a prophet, a missionary, a pastor, or really any Christian.

No, very clearly he says that he is The Truth.  Jesus is truth personified.  Everything he is and everything he has done is The Truth.  His perfect life is Truth.  His innocent sufferings and death on the cross is Truth.  His resurrection is Truth. His announcement that he will come again is Truth.  And the Truth is, he has done these things and will do what he has prophesied for your benefit and mine.  The Truth is that Jesus is the very embodiment of God’s grace, of God’s amazing love for you and me.  What comfort this Truth brings to us!

          That brings us to the third great “I AM” statement that Jesus makes in this simple sentence: “I am The Life.”

When we think of life as it relates to God, we are immediately drawn to life in heaven.  Listen again to Jesus’ words of comfort at the beginning of this text: “Do not let your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that you may also be where I am.” 

What a wonderful picture of life in heaven!  God will not simply supply our necessities there; he provides us a mansion to live in!  The glories of life in heaven are really beyond our understanding.  But we know that life there will be perfect!

But life with God does not begin for us in heaven.  It gets its start here on earth.  How? Through Jesus “The Life.”  Remember, Jesus doesn’t just point us to life like the apostles did.  He IS the Life.  He is the source and giver of all true life. 

          Without Jesus, The Life, just think where we would be.  We would be wandering around this earth aimlessly, and unaware of eternal death that awaits us. But Jesus doesn’t want that to happen.  Instead, Jesus gives us life by sending his Spirit to work on us through baptism and the Bible.  Because of that, we can enjoy life with God.  We can enjoy life with God now.  We can enjoy it because we know that it holds the sure promise of life with him in heaven. 

          Earlier, we talked about the reaction of some of the people that Paul spoke to in Thessalonica.  That they basically forced them out of town.  There’s a happy ending to that account.  Paul and Silas ended up in a place called Berea.  And there they received a very favorable reception.  The people loved what they had to say and even examined the Scriptures to verify what they said.  They thirsted for even more! 

          When Jesus says to us that he is The Way, and The Truth, and The Life, may we also thirst for more.  After all, the better we get to know Jesus, the better we will get to know our heavenly Father!  Amen.