Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Sunday, May 10, 2020
I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life - May 10, 2020 - Fifth Sunday of Easter/Mother’s Day - Text: John 14:1-14
Today we celebrate the social holiday of Mother’s Day. Indeed, the highest calling of God to a woman is motherhood because as was His promise, the Savior of the world was born through a mother, the Virgin Mary. So, to all our Mother’s we are glad you are here, that you brought your family and we say to you, “Happy Mother’s Day.”
When you go to the mall, especially a new mall, one you have never been to, you often look for the mall directory in order to find where certain stores are. And as you look at the directory it often has a little tag stating, “you are here.” This is an important bit of information, because you need to know where you are in order to be able to get to someplace else. In our text for today we see Jesus giving His disciples directions to the place that they will be going. The problem is that they do not seem to know where they are now. And, although we may at various times in our own lives feel like these disciples, fortunately, for us, all we need to know is that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.
Our text begins with Jesus preparing His disciples for His departure. We read beginning at verse one, “1Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4And you know the way to where I am going.” (1-4).
Jesus tells His disciples that He is going away. From time to time He had intimated and at other times outright told His disciples of His suffering and death and of His resurrection. In this instance, He is telling them that He is going away, namely that He is going to heaven. He is going there to prepare a place for them. Jesus is not going to create a place, rather to prepare an already created place. Heaven is already there. Heaven is a present reality. Heaven is there waiting for us. Jesus is going there to get their rooms ready.
Jesus’ words are not just to His disciples, they are to us as well. Jesus is going to prepare a place for us along with His disciples and all the saints who have gone on before us and who will go on after us. Jesus goes and He will return to take us. Jesus’ words are for us, to remind us that He did everything for us, for His disciples, as well for the whole world, for all people of all places of all times.
These words of Jesus are indeed words of comfort, especially to those who lay near death. Many times I have shared these words with someone who knows they are about to fall asleep in faith. These words are words of comfort and assurance, to know that Jesus has a place ready for us when we pass on from this world, from this vale of tears to be with Him in heaven.
Continuing on in our text, Jesus explains to His disciples the way to heaven, that it, that the way to heaven is by faith in Him. We read picking up at verse five, “5Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. 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 had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him’” (5-7).
Thomas heard what Jesus said. He heard the words and he probably understood the definition of each word, yet He did not understand what Jesus was saying. And so he honestly speaks his mind and the questions he has on his mind.
Jesus answers, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Jesus, that is faith in Jesus, is the only way to heaven. There are not many paths that lead to the same enlightenment, there is only one way. There may be many religions, even cults and sects in the world, but there is still only one way. Although there are many gods (small “g” gods) in our world, there is only one true God who can give us eternal life. And as I have said before, this exclusive claim of one way and only one way to heaven is why we Christians are so hated by the rest of the world, especially those who would seek enlightenment by another, shall we say, more carnal path.
Jesus is the way and Jesus is the truth. Jesus is the only truth. Apart from Jesus there is and can be no truth, and we can see how true that is in our world today. Without Jesus, without God, there are no certainties, there are no absolutes, and no absolutes means no truth, and so truth becomes relative. What may be true for you may not be true for me and what may be true for me may not be true for you. Truth becomes what I feel. If I feel it, then it must be true for me. That is the truth of the world in which we live today and it is no wonder we have such a confused and mixed up world. This type of truth finds its way into the church when we hear such thoughts as, “All religions are equal paths to an eternal existence.” “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere in your faith or as long as you believe strongly enough.” “The Bible can be translated in so many different ways, it means different things to different people so how can you say your interpretation is right and mine is wrong?” This type of truth is also seen when the Bible is misquoted, when we hear such statements as, “The Bible says you’re not supposed to judge others.” “The Bible says you’re not supposed to repeat gossip, so you better listen close the first time.” Have you ever wondered why we have such a problem with truth in our world today. It is because, apart from Jesus there is and can be no truth. And we live in a world that is quite apart from Jesus.
Jesus is the way. Jesus is the truth. And Jesus is the life, that is, He is eternal life. Faith in Jesus is the only way to discover the truth that Jesus is the only way to eternal life in heaven.
Jesus clearly tells His disciples that He and the Father are one. We profess faith in a triune God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We may not be able to completely understand, or explain, this triune God, but we believe it, because God’s Word tells us this is so.
As our text continues we get a further explanation of the way to heaven. We read picking up at verse eight, “8Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.’ 9Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves’” (8-11).
Philip missed the point. But Philip was not alone, all the disciples, and even we today, oftentimes miss the point. We miss what Jesus is trying to tell us. Jesus shows Himself to be God, by His signs, by His wonders, and by the miracles He preformed. These signs, wonders, and miracles showed that Jesus is who He says He is, true God and true man. He is the Savior, born in human flesh, born to fulfill the law, born to give His life as a ransom for the world.
So, as the Father speaks, Jesus speaks. Jesus did not come on His own, He came as He was sent by the Father. He came to fulfill a mission. He came to love us and He loves us by giving His life as a ransom for all. He came to live a perfect life for us in our place. He came to trade His perfection for our sins. He came to suffer the worst death possible, the worst death we human beings deserve, death on a cross. He came to suffer eternal death and hell. He came to rise again so that we can know, for certain, that it is an absolute, that we too will rise again. He came to give us His robes of righteousness.
Jesus does not try to talk anyone into anything. He simply points to the signs, wonders, and miracles. He says, do not just take my word for it, rather see what I am doing and then believe because of the signs, wonders, miracles, and the works that I do.
In good Lutheran fashion, verse twelve (12) answers our question, “what does this mean?” As we read verse twelve we realize that we have been saved for a purpose. We have not been saved for nothing. And please understand, I am speaking in terms of sanctification, that is in terms of a response of faith. We have been saved as a preparation for good works, we read, “12Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”
As we hear these words, that we are saved for good works we must never get these words backwards and think that we are saved by our good works. Listen again, we are saved for good works. Here we hear Jesus loud and clear as He tells us the close relationship between salvation and good works, the close relationship between justification and sanctification. Jesus does not save us for nothing. He saves us to do good works, the good works that He has for us to do. The correlation of that would be to say as James says, faith without works is dead, that is, if we are not doing good works then it shows that we do not have faith.
Jesus tells us that we will do good works and as a matter of fact the good works that we do will be greater good works than the ones He did, because Jesus has greater things for us to do. Of course, we understand that we do not count Jesus’ death on the cross as a good work. His death on the cross is what saved us. And because of His death on the cross, because He saved us, we are moved to do good works, the good works that He has for us to do.
We also come to realize that we will do greater things than Jesus, not because we can do greater things by ourselves, but because Jesus will work these greater things through us. So, there again it is not we who are doing them, but Jesus doing them through us. We will do greater things than Jesus because what we do will be done to the credit and to the glory of Him. That is what makes it a good work, because it is motivated by God, because God does it through us and because it is done to the praise and glory of His Holy name. Anything less is not a good work in God’s eyes and is not the good works that God intends for us to do.
Today, May 10, 2020, Jesus speaks to us as He speaks to His disciples. Jesus reminds us by His words that He is true man and true God, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He reminds us that He is the only way, the only truth, and the only life, that apart from Him there is only the way to hell, apart from Him there is no truth, and apart from Him there is only eternal death in hell. Jesus reminds us the He came into our world to show us the way, the truth and the life, to rescue us from sin, death, and the power of the devil. He came to bring us salvation, but not just salvation for the fun of it. He came to bring us salvation so that we might do the good works that He has for us to do. And we do those good works, not because we are all so fired important, not because we can do them by ourselves, but because He motivates us to do them, because He does them through us, and because He does them to the credit, the praise and glory of the Father in heaven. And to all this we stand in awe as we see that we are the recipients of all these blessings from Him and more. To God be the glory for Jesus’ sake. Amen.