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Sermon September 10, 2017

Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1318

Dr. Ed Pettus September 10, 2017 John 14:1-14

(This is an extended outline, not a verbatim transcript.)

 

 

“I Am the Way and the Truth and the Life”

 

  • I Am the Way

 

We are coming to the close of this series on the “I Am” statements of Jesus. One more to go after today. Today’s passage is often more familiar to people because it is so often read at funerals to remind us not to be troubled about the death of a loved one, but to know that Jesus has prepared a place for them in heaven, in His Father’s house. “Let not your hearts be troubled.” We hear that command, yet we struggle to let not our hearts be troubled. We struggle in our troubles whether it is facing death or facing a job search or financial concerns. All kinds of troubles are presented in this life. We grow troubled by them and we turn to this kind of passage to find courage and encouragement from Jesus.

Why is it that we need not be troubled? The reason: Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. He is all that we need and then some! He is our comfort in trouble, our peace in times of anxiety, our hope in hopeless situations, our light in the darkness. He leads us beside those still waters and restores our souls.

Today we are going to look at what we might consider as three “I Ams” of John 14:6 beginning with I am the Way. When we think of the term way, we might first think of finding directions. Which way do we go to get somewhere? We might think of the thoroughfare, which road or rail or flight path shall we take? Direction and/or method of travel? Jesus is the direction and Jesus is the method as well.

But we also might consider the way to what? Is the question, “how do we get to heaven?” That is certainly a question many ask, perhaps all of us have asked. That’s a fine question. It is a question of destination. Yes, we are concerned about where we will spend eternity, but is that the most important question? Personally I think we should first ask, “how do we get to God?” They are both good questions, but the first only deals with the destination, the second deal with both destination and the journey. Either way, Jesus is the way to heaven and to God. We journey with Jesus who is the way. You might recall that the church was first called the Way. Acts 9:1-3 is the beginning of the Saul to Paul conversion experience,

 

But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him.

 

That light that shone around Saul was the light of the world. Saul was on his way to arrest those belonging to the Way, but the One who is the Way called Saul to convert to the Way. Enough of that!

One thing that the Way implies is movement. Jesus is on the move. The church is on the move. Jesus is the way we go and Jesus is the way to the Father. In essence we journey to God with Jesus. We could even say that we go with God to God. The Way covers our way. Jesus does not just show us a way, but He is the Way.

William Barclay has said it this way, “Suppose we are in a strange town and ask for directions. Suppose the person asked says: "Take the first to the right, and the second to the left. Cross the square, go past the church, take the third on the right and the road you want is the fourth on the left." The chances are that we will be lost before we get half-way. But suppose the person we ask says: "Come. I'll take you there." In that case the person to us is the way, and we cannot miss it. That is what Jesus does for us. He does not only give advice and directions. He takes us by the hand and leads us; he strengthens us and guides us personally every day. He does not tell us about the way; he is the Way.”

https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/john-14.html

 

 

 

  • I Am the Truth

 

Jesus is the way and Jesus is the Truth. Jesus is not just telling us the truth, He certainly does that. He is not just showing us the truth, He certainly does that. Jesus is Himself the Truth. John’s gospel is probably the best of the four gospels to help us see this Truth. Let’s look at two verses from chapter 1.

 

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

The Word at the beginning that became flesh is Jesus Christ. He came to live on this earth as a human and he came full of grace and truth. This is such an important pairing, grace and truth, because too many Christians live too heavily on one or the other at the expense of one or the other. Those who lean toward the progressive expression of Christianity tend to forget the importance of truth and those who live toward the fundamentalist expression of Christianity sometimes forget to express grace. But Jesus is filled with both grace and truth. He expresses both these themes in John 8 when the woman caught in adultery was brought before him and he tells her there is no one to condemn her (grace) and then to go and sin no more (truth).

Later in John 8 Jesus says:

 

John 8:31-32

31So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 

How do we find the truth? Abide in Jesus’ word! In the word we will know the truth and the truth will set us free. In Jesus’ word we will know Jesus and Jesus will set us free. This is another reason why it is so important for us to be engaged in the Bible. In the Bible we find the Truth. We know that. We have heard it many times before, and yet, we tend to ignore this truth by not engaging in the truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • I Am the Life

 

In a similar manner that we find the Truth in the Bible, the Jews understood the Torah to be life. Psalm 119 tells us numerous times that the word gives life (Ps. 119:25, 37, 40, 50, 93, 107, 154, 156).

One of my favorites in this list is 119:37, Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.” The word teaches us the ways of God, but what I like so much about this verse is asking God to turn our eyes from looking at worthless things. We might do well to keep that prayer always at hand so that we could possibly spend more time looking to worthwhile things in the Bible.

Jesus is the life. This is also one of the reasons most Christians are all about life on the issues of the sanctity of life. Abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research, and anything that threatens the sacred nature of God’s gift of life. It’s interesting that our “I Am” series includes life more than once. Jesus is the bread of life, the resurrection and the life, and the way, truth, and life. We might even be able to argue that every one of them points to life in one way or another. The shepherd protects the life of the sheep. The light reveals life. The door leads to life.

Jesus came to give life and to give it in abundance. Such a gift is given today, in this life, as well as our life to come, eternal life. Jesus prays in John 17, When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:1-3). Life is found in knowing God. Knowing God is found in the truth of His word, and Jesus leads us to God’s way.

All of this leads to the last sentence of John 14:6, “No one comes to the Father except through me.”

 

 

 

 

  • The Exclusive Claims of Jesus

 

This is the exclusive claim of Jesus that has sometimes offended people, both Christian and non-Christian. How can Jesus claim to be the only way to God? We see the teaching that claims that there are many ways to God. Christians who think of Jesus as the only way get ridiculed for trusting this claim to be true. But I don’t see how we cannot lay claim to this truth. It was the message of the apostles in Acts 4:12 - And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

It was the message of Paul in Romans 10:9-10 - “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

 

Jesus makes His claim in several places, one in particular speaks of the danger of not believing He is the way, Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18).

 

No matter what others say about this issue, we are called to proclaim Christ alone as the way to salvation and the way to God. God delivered the Jews out of Egypt and He delivered Jew and Gentile out of sin and death through Jesus. Even if there are other ways to God, which I do not believe there are, we are still commanded and encouraged to proclaim Christ as the only way. He is the way and the truth and the life. There is no other way. If there were, Jesus would have also made that clear. He came to save the world. He says in John 10:16, I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” He has other sheep, that is, sheep other than the Jews. We are those sheep. People of all kinds, Gentiles, are those sheep.

He is the way to God. He is the truth and life because we know the Father in knowing Jesus. John’s gospel points to this truth from start to finish, so I thought I would end our sermon time this morning with the end of John 20, not the end of the gospel but close to it!

 

30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

 

John’s gospel was written so that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, and in believing we would have life. Jesus is the way, the Messiah. He is the truth, in which we believe, and He is the life, here now and for eternity. Amen!