Sermon Notes and Audio
We are living in an era of high uncertainty. Since the middle of the 20th Century references in books to uncertainty, volatility, complexity and ambiguity have soared. Human progress has been an effort to mitigate and manage uncertainty. People seek to manage categories of risk- from providing health insurance for our pets, to eating exactly the right foods or wearing a helmet while cycling. Uncertainty can be managed and diminished but cannot be eliminated. It is an inherent feature of life. (Thoughts On Living With Uncertainty- Ian Stewart)
The disciples of Jesus found themselves in similar circumstances of uncertainty. The situation for Jesus had grown more volatile. His enemies and His betrayer became bolder in their opposition to Him. There was uncertainty, not in the mind of Jesus, but in the mind of the disciples about what would happen next. For three years they followed Jesus and learned from Him. They understood that He was the Messiah, and believed in Him, but their understanding of what this meant was still developing. The situation was complex in that God had entered into the world to die for sinners. In the minds of the disciples there was still some ambiguity about how this would unfold. They were bewildered, and discouraged. Jesus had said He was going away, that He would die, that one of the Twelve was a traitor, that Peter would deny Him three times, and that Satan was at work among them and all the disciples would fall away.
In the Farewell Discourse of John 13-17, Jesus talked to them about His imminent departure. Jesus was focused at this point on the cross, and was preparing the disciples for what was about to take place.
This passage includes one of seven “I Am” statements of Jesus.
I Am the Bread of Life– John 6:35
I Am the Light of the World- John 8:12
I Am the Door of the Sheep- John 10:7
I Am the Good Shepherd- John 10:11,14
I Am the Resurrection and the Life- John 11:25
I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life- John 14:6
I Am the True Vine– John 15:1
I Am= a very direct, and significant way Jesus referred to Himself. “I myself, and only I, am.” This reflects the name of God in Hebrew, Yahweh, the self-existing one, the one with all power and glory and authority. In John 8:58 Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Before Abraham was, I am.” He was referring to Himself as God, and the Jews took it that way also, because they tried to stone Him for what they saw as blasphemy.
The disciples of Jesus were troubled by what Jesus was telling them and He knew it. Jesus said, v1 Your heart must not be troubled. This carries with it the conviction of a command, but spoken with empathy and concern. Do not let your heart shudder. In this sin fallen world we live in, trouble is everywhere. Anxiety is at epidemic proportions. Fear is defined as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, or likely to cause pain. Fear is caused by something that is unknown and potentially dangerous, in the present or anticipated in the future.
What is the antidote for fear according to Jesus? Faith! V1b Believe in God; believe also in Me. This is present and continuous- Keep on believing in God. Keep on believing in Jesus. Jesus is pointing us to our hope in God!
God is all powerful- nothing is outside of His control or His sovereign will.
God is all knowing- nothing escapes Him, He knows all there is to know.
God is ever present- everywhere all at once.
God is loving and gracious- He cares for those who trust in Him.
V2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you.
This is all about perspective. When we fear, the focus of our fear is magnified, and our hope in God is minimized. When we believe, we look beyond the immediate to the eternal.
We have a longing for the eternal, for Heaven, whether we realize it or not. C.S. Lewis called this the “inconsolable longing.” There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven, but more often I find myself wondering whether in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else. . .
A safe home, where there is love, and comfort and provision, is a great treasure on this earth. When we are out in the world among coworkers, or school mates or friends, and trouble comes, conflict arises, difficulties deepen, we long for home. If only we can get home and find respite, a quiet place of peace and protection.
Jesus is preparing permanent dwelling places for us, an eternal home in the presence of God. Temporary troubles abound, they are all around us. We can find comfort in our troubled heart and rest for our weary souls when we understand there is an eternal home prepared for us by Jesus.
Jesus is coming back to take us to be with Him there. V3 If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back to receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.
The promise of Jesus is present tense, a promise that should be taken to heart. There are 318 references to the Lord’s return and that He will take us to be with him personally.
Paul said, “Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose. I am pressured by both. I have the desire to depart and be with Christ- which is far better- but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.” Philippians 1:22-24
Jesus said- v4 You know the way to where I am going. ‘Lord,’ Thomas said, ‘we don’t know where You’re going. How can we know the way?’
Jesus told him, I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Jesus uses the definite article to emphasize He is the ONLY Way, the ONLY Truth, and the ONLY Life. At issue here, is the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. There is a lot of confusion on this point. According to one study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 52 percent of all American Christians believe that non-Christian faiths can lead to eternal life. Further, despite a recent countertrend, the number of evangelicals who believe this remains remarkably high. While many factors may account for these findings, it seems clear that a surprising number of Christians, including evangelicals, are not convinced of Jesus’ unique nature.
Universalism- Teaches that because God is love, all people will ultimately go to Heaven, regardless of what they believe, or do. This is false.
Inclusivism- Teaches that the work of Jesus is the only means of salvation, but people can be saved whether or not they express explicit faith in Jesus.This is false.
Pluralism- Teaches that no religion has a claim on truth. They all have different views of the same ultimate reality. All religions are valid when considered in their own cultural background or tradition.This is false.
Exclusivism- Teaches that Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be. Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. He is Eternal God who came to earth in the flesh. He lived a sinless life, died a substitutionary death, rose from the dead triumphant over sin, and alone is the Savior of all who believe. This is biblical and what Jesus taught.
“All religions are not the same. All religions do not point to God. All religions do not say that all religions are the same. At the heart of every religion is an uncompromising commitment to a particular way of defining who God is or is not and, accordingly, of defining life’s purpose.” Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message
Our culture finds it acceptable to speak in general terms about God, faith, and prayer. Yet when the exclusivity of Jesus Christ comes into view, the line is drawn. One study showed that only 12% of Americans claim their religion is the only true faith. (Americans: My Faith Isn’t the Only Way to Heaven- http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,370588,00.html).
Jesus Is The Way
With all of the religious diversity and confusion, what does it mean to say that Jesus is The Way? If you are going somewhere, it is important to know how to get there. It seems like some people have a really good sense of direction, and others not so much. Scientists have actually pinpointed signals in the human brain that determines how good we are at navigating. There is an inbuilt compass of sorts that tells us which way we are facing and works out which way to turn to go where we want. Studies suggest we have networks of brain cells dedicated to specific compass points. And in those with a poor sense of direction, the signals are fuzzier. (Scientists Discover We Really Do Have A Homing Instinct, Fiona Macrae, Daily Mail Science)
Spiritually speaking, we cannot rely on instinct or inclinations, because of our sin fallen nature. We need a guide outside of ourselves. Apart from Jesus we are lost, and we can’t find our own way back to God.
The disciples were confused about where Jesus was going and how they could get there. Jesus told them He is The Way. The word “way” in the New Testament was used to refer to a road or a path traveled. When Jesus first called the disciples, He said follow Me. A call to discipleship is a call to follow.
Jesus is The Way to God- Jesus does not say, I am a Way, He says I am The Way, the only way you can get to God, there is no other way. Jesus says I, and none besides Me. You can’t get there by being good, you can’t get there by being religious, you can’t get there by being sincere, only through Jesus.
Acts 4:12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.
1 Timothy 2:5-6 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has not been witnessed to at the proper time.
Jesus is The Way to the Father’s Heavenly House-
Matthew 7:13-14 Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.
Jesus is The Only Way and He is the Best Way. No one comes to the Father but by Him.
Without Jesus The Way, there is no going.
Jesus is The Truth
Truth is that which corresponds to reality.
A cover story in The Economist, an international magazine, was entitled “Yes, I’d lie to you: The post-truth world.” The article analyzed the dishonesty that is wreaking havoc in politics, journalism, social media, and many other areas of common life. One expert noted- “Right now it pays to be outrageous, but not be truthful.” Interestingly the article also highlighted one of the most effective ways to tell lies- by hiding truth in a glut of information. Information glut is the new censorship.
The Truth of God is anchored in His character.
Numbers 23:19 God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?
Deuteronomy 32:4 The Rock- His work is perfect; all his ways are entirely just. A faithful God, without prejudice, He is righteous and true.
The Truth of God is revealed in His Word.
Psalm 33:4 For the Word of the Lord is right, and all His work is trustworthy.
Psalm 119:142 Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your instruction is true.
John 17:17 Sanctify them by the truth; Your Word is truth.
Jesus told Pilate (John 18) My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders But now my kingdom is from another place. Pilate said, you are a king then! Jesus said, you say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me. Pilate replied- what is truth?
The Truth of God is embodied in His Son.
Jesus is the perfect manifestation of Divine Reality. He embodies everything we need to know and believe about God. He is completely reliable in every regard.
Without Jesus The Truth, there is no knowing.
Jesus Is The Life
Jesus shifts the focus from His death, and farewell, to life. He was going to lay down His life for the sheep and then take it back up again.
John provides a consistent witness that Jesus is The Life. Jesus has life within Himself (John 5:26), He is the Source and Giver of life (John 3:16), He has the light of life (John 8:12), and has the words of life (John 6:68).
Jesus came to take us, who were dead in sin, and bring us spiritual life. He accomplishes this through His life, death, and the power of His resurrection. Eternal Life in Jesus begins when we repent and believe. Eternal life that comes as a gift to us from God when we are made alive in Jesus.
John 3:16 For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
In John 11 the news came to Jesus that his friend Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha was sick to the point of death. Jesus said his sickness was for the glory of God. Jesus went to where Lazarus was in the tomb. He told Martha that those who believe in Him, though they shall die, they shall live.
John 11:25-26 Jesus said- I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die- ever. Do you believe this?
Jesus came to bring abundant life.
John 10:10 A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.
The word abundant means “exceedingly, beyond measure, beyond what we could expect or anticipate.” Earthly possessions, power, pleasure, prominence, are not God’s priorities for us. This does not point to the abundance of these things. This is life in God.
The biblical definition of life is provided by Jesus- John 17:3 This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent- Jesus Christ.
Abundant life, is the blessing of God Himself and all that accompanies knowing Him.
Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us.
Without Jesus The Life there is no living.
Vv7-11 If you know Me, you will also know My Father. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him. Lord, said Philip, show us the Father, and that’s enough for us. Jesus said to him, Have I been among you all this time without your knowing, Philip? The one who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, Show us the Father? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on My own. The Father who lives in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me. Otherwise, believe because of the works themselves.
Jesus seems to be rebuking them for failing to understand His person and mission. Jesus made a profound claim. The Father is in Jesus and Jesus perfectly reveals the Father. By seeing Jesus they were seeing the Father! It may well be that to the ancient world this was the most staggering thing Jesus ever said. To the Greeks, God was characteristically The Invisible, the Jews would count it as an article of faith that no man had seen God at any time. To see Jesus is to see what God is like. The proof of the relationship between the Father and the Son is because of His character, His words, and His miracles.
J. I. Packer said it so well: “Hearts on earth say in the course of a joyful experience, ‘I don’t want this ever to end.’ But it invariably does. The hearts in heaven say, ‘I want this to go on forever.’ And it will. There can be no better news than this.” Steve DeWitt, Eyes Wide Open: Enjoying God in Everything (Credo House Publishers, 2012), page 168
Without Jesus The Way, there is no going. Without Jesus the Way, there is no knowing. Without Jesus The Life, there is no living.