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Sabtu, 09 April 2011

I AM THE WAY, THE TURTH AND THE LIFE


Can anyone tell me the context into which this reading fits?  The last supper.  The disciples have just been told that Jesus is only going to be with them for a short while longer then he is going away and they can’t come with him.  Then he says in verses 34 and 35, “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  Peter questions where Jesus is going and declares his loyalty to Jesus.  Jesus responds that he will deny him three times before the next morning, and he then tells them not to worry but to trust in God and in him.  He then tells them that there are plenty of places for them in his Father’s house and that he is going there to prepare a place for them and that he will come back and take them to be with him and that they know the way to the place he is going.

This must have caused them some concern and a great deal of confusion, because again, this was something new that they had not heard Jesus speak of before.  Thomas is the one who speaks up saying that they don’t know where Jesus is going, so how can they know the way.  Jesus then comes out with the saying we are focusing on this morning. 

In this context Jesus says, “I AM the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Can anyone remember the old song that talks about this very saying? 
I am the way the truth and the life, that’s what Jesus said. 
I am the way the truth and the life, that’s what Jesus said. 
Without the way there is no going, without the truth there is no knowing, without the life there is no living.
I am the way the truth and the life, that’s what Jesus said.

Even though this is an old song it is still so very true. 

When Jesus says that he is the way, he is meaning that he is the way to God.  Jesus is not one way among many, but the way.  Acts 4:12 says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

When you consider that in the world there is something like 4,200 different major religions, and that’s not including numerous smaller cults and religions that don’t rate a mention in Adherents.com’s summary page, it’s not hard to understand how people can be drawn into believing that their way is the way.  In Australia, according to the 1996 census figures, there are some 22 major religions with 70% of the population claiming Christianity as their religion.  But of those I wonder how many believe that it’s only the Son of God who can open the way for us to come into God’s presence in and for eternity.  There is only one way. 

Many people say that simply believing in Jesus and accepting his sacrifice as being for us and that’s all we have to do to be saved, is just too easy.  It’s just too simple to think that becoming a Christian is as easy as saying yes to Jesus and having the Holy Spirit come into us as that guarantee of being saved.  Many people think there is more that they have to do.  That’s because there are many religions that have good works and doing lots of good deeds as the way they can climb the corporate ladder to salvation.  But they have that all around the wrong way.  The good works we do comes from a deep sense of gratitude to Christ for saving us and as a sign that we are saved.  As you might recall James says, “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”  He also says, “Faith by itself, if it not accompanied by action, is dead.”

In Christ we will live out our faith by being a blessing to others in what we do.  We do not try to gain a place in heaven because we think we can do enough good deeds.  If that were the case then we could never do enough to earn salvation.

Hebrews 10:19-25 also makes it clear that it is “only through the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, opened for us through the curtain, that is his body,…” that we can enter into God’s presence.  In the early church, Christianity was sometimes called ‘the Way’.  Saul, before he became Paul, is mentioned in Acts 9:2, “He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.”  There are a couple of other references to the Way in Acts 19:9, and 23.

As for Jesus’ statement that he is the truth this is something John uses some 25 times and is closely linked each time to Jesus, who is the truth.  This is a key emphasis in this Gospel.  There is nothing false in Jesus, and when we are truly a Christian, a Christ follower, we will display these same truths as part of who we are.  Being in Christ and having the Holy Spirit in us should be easily seen in what we do and how we live our lives.  If Jesus is the truth in us then we will live his truth each day.

Of course, the truth this is talking about is that Jesus is the way to the Father, that there is no falsity in him, and that what he says lines up with all of who God is and what he has said, because they are three in one.  Jesus cannot do anything or say anything outside of who he is as part of the godhead.  He says that he can only do what his Father says for him to do.  When he says he is the way, his is telling the truth.  When he says he is the life, he is telling the truth.  When he says we need to believe in him and place our trust and faith in him to receive eternal life and forgiveness of our sins, Jesus is telling the truth.  In Christ there are no lies, there is only truth.

The Life that Jesus talks about is very likely the statement that means I am the way (to the Father) in that I am the Truth and the life.  The only way we can have this life that Jesus talks about is through us having a personal saving faith in him.  We don’t need faith in a system of beliefs or have faith in a set of writing that some person wrote down, or faith in some object that sits on a shelf, we need to have faith in the person of Jesus Christ.  But that trust in that person, Jesus, must have factual content.  You see, faith includes believing that Jesus is one with the Father.  Jesus said in verse 9, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”  Then he says in verse 10, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father us in me?  The words I say to you are not just my own.  Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing HIS work.”

The teachings that Jesus gave didn’t come from some earthly, human origin.  When we see the truth in Jesus’ words we see there is this inseparable connection between his words and his work and who God is.  It all stems from his relationship with His Father.  Verse 11 then says, “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.”  Jesus is saying that if we need any more evidence that He is one with the Father, then have a look at the many miracles he has performed.  There is no way anyone can do the sorts of things Jesus did, and is still doing today, if it weren’t for the power and authority that God has over the universe.

God is still working miracles in people lives today.  We often pray for healing for someone, and in some cases that healing comes, but there are times when it doesn’t, and we don’t understand why not.  But God says we are to keep praying for those miracles to happen, but no matter if that miracle comes or not, we must still allow God to be God.  That can be really tough, especially when someone is suffering and/or dying.  But we must allow God to be God.  Only He sees the bigger picture.

But I also see miracles happening in people’s lives every day.  I see a real miracle in someone like Elaine who has really stepped up and is doing really well playing piano here in church when she would not have dreamed of doing that just a few years ago.  I see the miracle of some of our young people like Mel and Adam, and others who have stepped up into leading worship in the last couple of years.  I see miracle after miracle happening when I see lives changed and people really trusting in God where there was no trust.  Miracles don’t have to be really big and spectacular.  They are often small and almost unnoticeable.

It’s when we take God at his word and ask him to do things in the name of Jesus Christ that we see answers come.  Of course the thing with praying is that it needs to be specific enough for us to see when that prayer is answered.  Prayer, truly effective prayer, has to be “in the name of Jesus”.  That’s not just some magical catch-cry that we stick on the end of our prayers.  When we pray something ‘in Jesus’ name’ we are, or should be, praying in accordance with all that the person who bears that name is.  It is prayer aimed at carrying forward the work that Jesus did.  It’s a prayer that Jesus himself will answer.

Whenever I pray, I try really hard to line that prayer up with what I believe God’s ‘will’ would be.  I don’t pray for what I want, because that would be selfish, but I pray in a manner that I hope would line up with what Jesus would also be praying for.  If we truly have God’s kingdom at heart and we pray for something or someone from God’s heart, then we can confidently end that prayer, “In Jesus’ name.”  If what we are praying for is not the kind of thing that God would approve of, then we are wasting our time.  If our prayer is selfish, if our prayer is against someone we might not get on with, if our prayer is outside God’s will, then we would be better off spending that time reading God’s word, doing his work and will in the world, or simply stopping for a while and listening for God’s voice on the matter.  Using the term, “In Jesus’ name” at the end of our prayer will not guarantee that it is answered the way we would like.  But if we are in tune with God and our heart is lined up with God’s, then there is a fair chance that it would be answered.  Of course, as I said, we still need to allow God to be God in every situation.

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  That means we can only gain forgiveness of sins, salvation and eternal life with the Father through accepting Jesus as our personal Saviour and Lord.  It’s only through Jesus Christ that our prayers can be acceptable to God.  Verse 14 ends by saying, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”  Jesus will save us to eternal life when we ask in his name and he will answer our prayers when we ask in accordance with who he is, and that’s the truth.

Let’s pray.

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