Sermon title:  JESUS IS THE WAY AND THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE

John 14:1-14

Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, February 23, 2020

 

 

 

It’s our Lord Jesus’ final night on earth.

 

He had his Last Supper with the 12 apostles,

and Judas Iscariot left the table

and went off to betray Jesus to his enemies.

 

After Judas left,

the Lord used the Passover bread and wine

to illustrate his body and blood

that would be given in sacrifice

to establish the New Covenant of Christianity.

 

Christ and the 11 remaining disciples

sang a hymn, and left for the Mount of Olives,

just outside Jerusalem.

 

He gave them a new commandment:

to love one another, as he loved them.

 

But then, he told them he was about to be arrested

and put to death,

and that they would all abandon him.

 

Even Peter, who promised

to follow Jesus to prison and to death,

would deny him 3 times—Jesus said—

before the rooster would crow in the morning.

 

The apostles were upset

by the things Christ told them were about to happen.

 

But now, in John Chapter 14,

he begins to reassure them.

 

He goes on to put these things

in their larger perspective—the perspective of eternity.

 

They aren’t just a group of men

who are about to lose their teacher.

 

There is much more than meets the eye.

 

Christ is going ahead of them to glory,

and they will follow later.

 

And they have had the privilege

of being trained and prepared by the Son of God himself.

 

Beginning at John 14:1, Jesus tells them,

 

1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled.

You believe in God; believe also in me.

 

He’s speaking words of comfort

to strengthen them.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

 

Even though some frightening events

are about to take place

that very night, and the very next day,

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

 

Why not?

 

Why should his coming arrest and crucifixion

not leave their hearts troubled?

 

Because Jesus was revealing to them the bigger picture.

 

He said,

 

“You believe in God; believe also in me.”

 

From the beginning of their association with him,

the disciples were slow to realize

that Jesus was much more than just a wonderful rabbi—

much more, even,

than a miracle-working rabbi.

 

Over the months and years of their association with him,

they eventually realized that he was

the long-promised Messiah.

 

And, more than that,

they even began to grasp

that Jesus was the Son of God.

 

Still, they viewed him as a man,

because that’s all they had seen, so far.

 

Now Jesus is revealing more about himself.

 

He is revealing that he is God.

 

“You believe in God; believe also in me.”

 

He’s letting them know that he isn’t God the Father—

but he is God the Son.

 

Over the course of his parting words that evening—

words which fill John Chapters 14 through 17—

he reveals more and more

about his deity

and about the Holy Spirit,

the third Person of the Trinity.

 

But now, he starts off by saying,

 

You believe in God; believe also in me.

 

Why?  Because he can give them

eternal life with God the Father in heaven.

 

He goes on to say,

 

2 My Father’s house has many rooms;

if that were not so,

would I have told you

that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

 

3 And if I go and prepare a place for you,

I will come back

and take you to be with me

that you also may be where I am.

 

This is truly a reason

for the disciples hearts to be comforted,

and not to be troubled

by the difficulties that lay ahead.

 

And it is truly a reason

for us to be comforted,

and not to be troubled

by the difficulties that lie ahead for us.

 

Jesus was about to leave them, but only temporarily.

 

And he was going away for a reason:

to prepare a place for us to go with him

to live with him in his Father’s house forever.

 

2 My Father’s house has many rooms;

if that were not so,

would I have told you

that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

 

3 And if I go and prepare a place for you,

I will come back

and take you to be with me

that you also may be where I am.

 

We, too, can be comforted

that Jesus is coming back

to take us with him

to his Father’s house in heaven

to live with him there forever.

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But, how do we get there?

 

Jesus went on to tell the disciples,

 

4 You know the way

to the place where I am going.”

 

5 Thomas said to him,

 

“Lord, we don’t know where you are going,

so how can we know the way?”

 

Thomas earned the nickname “doubting Thomas.”

 

He often doubted and questioned what Jesus said.

 

Doubts arise in our hearts, too.

 

But our doubts shouldn’t make us feel

as is there’s something wrong with us.

 

Our doubts shouldn’t make us

question our relationship with God.

 

I think the Lord intentionally included that “doubting Thomas”

among his faithful apostles

to reflect our doubts,

and to assure us that he still loves us,

just as he loved Thomas,

regardless of our doubts.

 

In fact, the doubts that Thomas raised,

and the skeptical questions that Thomas asked,

opened the way for Christ to speak

some of the most profound truths in the Bible.

 

Our Lord spoke those profound truths

as direct responses to Doubting Thomas’s questions.

 

And what we’re reading here

is no exception.

 

Thomas objected,

 

“Lord, we don’t know where you are going,

so how can we know the way?”

 

But then we read in Verse 6

our Lord’s powerful response:

 

6 Jesus answered,

“I am the way and the truth and the life.

 

No one comes to the Father except through me.

 

That is truly profound.

 

And it’s worth repeating a hundred times.

 

6 Jesus answered,

 

“I am the way and the truth and the life.

 

No one comes to the Father except through me.

 

Jesus is “the way.”

 

He is the way to God—the only way to God the Father.

 

“I am the way and the truth and the life.

 

No one comes to the Father except through me.

 

The popular “wisdom” of this world

is that all religions lead to God.

 

But the Bible denies that,

all through the Old Testament.

And now Jesus makes it very plain

that he is the only way to God.

 

There is no other way.

 

“I am the way and the truth and the life.

 

No one comes to the Father except through me.

 

So-called Christians

who say all religions lead to God

aren’t really Christians,

because they don’t believe what Christ himself said:

 

No one comes to the Father except through me.

-------------------------------------------------

 

Jesus also says he is “the truth.”

 

Any philosophical or scientific explanation

of the world around us

that doesn’t focus on Jesus

isn’t true.

Jesus is “the truth.”

 

Any history of the world around us

that doesn’t focus on Jesus

isn’t true.

Jesus is “the truth.”

 

Any religious belief system

that doesn’t focus on Jesus

isn’t true.

Jesus is “the truth.”

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And our Lord says,

 

“I am the way and the truth and the life.

 

There is no eternal life without Jesus.

 

And, even now in this world,

we don’t really “live until we know Jesus.

 

If we’re stumbling in darkness,

and not walking in the way,

we’re not really living life to the full.

 

If we’re basing our lives on this world’s

false philosophies and false religions,

we’re not really living life to the full.

 

Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life.

------------------------------------

 

Now, some false pseudo-Christian cults

focus on just the Father, not on Jesus.

 

And the Jews themselves—

who were the only people God revealed himself to

up until the coming of Christ—

the Jews themselves knew only God the Father.

 

But Jesus goes on now to say

 

7 If you really know me,

you will know my Father as well.

 

From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

 

That was a shocking statement

for any Jew to hear—

or for anyone to hear, who knew Jesus as a man.

 

Now, instead of “doubting Thomas,”

it’s the apostle Philip’s turn to object.

Jesus just told the disciples

that they “have seen” the Father already.

 

7 If you really know me,

you will know my Father as well.

 

From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

 

But Philip didn’t get it.

 

Instead, he asked Jesus to show them the Father.

 

8 Philip said,

 

“Lord, show us the Father

and that will be enough for us.”

 

9 Jesus answered:

 

“Don’t you know me, Philip,

even after I have been among you

such a long time?

 

Anyone who has seen me

has seen the Father.

 

How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

 

Philip evidently expected the heavens to open,

and expected to look up into the sky

and see a fantastic display of the Father’s glory.

 

He expected to see a marvelous vision

like the visions of the Father

that some of the ancient Old Testament prophets saw.

 

But Jesus is talking about something else.

 

God the Father is a person.

 

He isn’t a laser light show

like you might see on stage at a rock concert.

 

God the Father is a person,

and his personality is completely reflected in Jesus his Son.

 

Hebrews 1:3 says,

 

“The Son is the radiance of God's glory

and the exact representation of his being.”

 

If you’ve seen Jesus,

you’ve seen the Father.

 

But it’s more than just our human expression,

“Life father, like son.”

 

It’s more than just what we see among our own families,

where a son takes after his father.

 

In Jesus’ case, it’s a mysterious spiritual thing.

 

Jesus goes on to explain it, like this, in Verse 10:

 

10 Don’t you believe

that I am in the Father,

and that the Father is in me?

 

The words I say to you

I do not speak on my own authority.

 

Rather, it is the Father, living in me,

who is doing his work.

 

11 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 works themselves.

 

It’s beyond human understanding

how the Father could be “in” Jesus

and how Jesus could be “in” the Father.

 

Our human brains can’t quite wrap themselves around

such spiritual mysteries.

 

But Jesus always tells the truth,

so we have to believe him in this, too.

 

In fact, in the next few chapters,

Jesus goes on to explain

even more startling mysteries

that affect each of us directly.

 

He goes on to tell

how Christian believers come to be “in” Christ.

 

And how Christ comes to live “in” each of us.

 

He goes on to introduce the person of the Holy Spirit,

and tells us the Holy Spirit’s role

in drawing us close to Jesus and to the Father.

 

But, first, he tells us something else that is startling,

but easier for us to grasp.

 

In Verse 12, he says,

 

12 Very truly I tell you,

whoever believes in me

will do the works I have been doing,

and they will do even greater things than these,

because I am going to the Father.

 

Jesus calls us to do the works he has been doing—

calling people to repent of their sins,

and to receive forgiveness in Christ.

 

And he calls us to

do even greater things than these.

Jesus reached a few thousand people with the Gospel,

and brought many of those to repentance and forgiveness.

 

He calls on us to “do even greater things than these.

 

He calls on us to reach millions and billions of people

with the Gospel—

to reach the whole world.

 

At Matthew 28:19 he gives us the command,

 

“go and make disciples of all nations,

baptizing them in the name of the Father

and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

20 and teaching them to obey

everything I have commanded you.”

 

But he has gone to heaven

 

Does that mean Jesus is done doing things on earth?

 

Far from it.

 

After saying, “I am going to the Father,

Jesus continued,

 

13 And I will do

whatever you ask in my name,

so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

 

14 You may ask me for anything in my name,

and I will do it.

 

Jesus is now in the business

of answering the prayers of his people.

 

He invites us to ask things in his name,

and to pray in his name,

and he tells us that he will answer the prayer.

 

As Jews, Christ’s disciples had been accustomed

to praying to God the Father

asking God the Father to answer their prayers.

 

But now Jesus tells them that he will answer their prayers,

if they pray in his name.

 

We today have grown up

with the thought of praying to Jesus,

but that was a whole new thought

to those Jewish disciples.

Christ was expanding their theological understanding,

by speaking of his position in heaven.

 

His next words

go even deeper into Christian theology,

as he introduces the Holy Spirit.

 

We’ll look at those words next week.

 

And we’ll see how Christ’s words

about the Holy Spirit in our lives

adds to his assurance,

 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.”