I AM the Way, the Truth, the Life
Please read John 14:1-7 in your Bible. I uised the NLT to prepare these remarks.
SERIES INTRO - “I AM” is the name God used with Moses. Jesus referred Himself in the same way to show He was God and to teach us about God. During Lent we are looking at the 7 “I AM” statements Jesus made in John.
A British Army chaplain called Paul Green told the following story: “A little boy was lost inside a busy shopping mall. He was standing in the aisle of a department store just crying and crying, ‘I want my mommy. I want my mommy.’ People who passed by felt sorry for him and many of them gave him nickels and dimes and quarters to try to cheer him up.
“Finally, a salesperson from the floor walked up to the distraught little boy and said, ‘I know where your mommy is, son.’ The little boy looked up with his tear drenched eyes and said, ‘So do I....just keep quiet, I got a good thing going here!’"
In terms of finding God, most people are lost and they don’t know it. Some are, like this little con artist, lost and they like it. A few, according to Jesus, are on the right path, the one that leads to life and eternity with the Father. This morning we examine Jesus’ “I AM” statement whereby He identified Himself as the sole means by which people may find God.
CONTEXT - This is a moment of high emotions among the disciples. At the end of chapter 13, Jesus predicted Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial. In the midst of all that drama, He told them not to allow their hearts to be troubled.
Choose trust in God to bring an end to trouble.
1. You who have troubled hearts, come to Jesus.
Why are we troubled? It is because we do not have confidence about our future. (1) A troubled heart is a problem at t center of who we are. In John’s writings, the HEART is the place of emotions. The word TROUBLED means “to shudder.” It is used to describe Jesus’ emotions when He heard of Lazarus’ death (11:33) and when He spoke of Judas’ betrayal (13:21).
The bad news is that in this life we will have trouble (John 16:33). The good news is that we don’t have to let our hearts be troubled; Jesus offers us relief.
Putting our trust in God gives us confidence about our future. (1) Trust in God requires taking His perspective, accepting His promises as a reliable foundation for daily living.
In this passage Jesus offered four promises for our future. First, “THERE IS MORE THAN ENOUGH ROOM IN MY FATHER’S HOME.” (2) The word “mansions” appears in the KJV, which is an unfortunate mistranslation based on the Latin word mansiones, which was a stopover place, like an inn. Contrary to that, heaven is our “forever home.” Jesus’ promise is of unlimited space available in heaven. No need to compete or worry about it in any way.
Second, “I AM GOING TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU.” (2) When Jesus spoke of His death, the disciples were supposed to understand that His death served an essential purpose: He was GOING for the purpose of preparing a PLACE for them in the Father’s eternal presence. “IN MY FATHER’S HOME” was a typical Jewish expression for heaven.
I promise to stay off this soapbox for now, but I’m preparing an online study of Heaven. One thing important to note here is that Heaven is a PLACE. This implies what other Scriptures spell out specifically: Heaven is real. It is a real place, not a foggy spirit world where disembodied spirits float around doing nothing. Jesus is making a promise to get a real place ready for His followers. To say anything less than that robs the promise of Heaven of any appeal, any power, any reason to give us something to put our hope in.
Third, “WHEN EVERYTHING IS READY, I WILL COME AND GET YOU.” (3) This promise refers to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the event that inaugurates the end of the age. Following that, Judgment Day will happen, God calling His people as family out of the whole mass of humanity and taking them to heaven for eternity.
Fourth, “YOU KNOW THE WAY TO WHERE I AM GOING.” (3) More good news: we don’t have to make up or achieve this wonderful future, it’s something already laid out before us. Our lifetime, the path that lies between where you are right now and heaven where God wants you to be, it’s there before you. Take care to walk upon it but don’t worry about a thing.
The purpose of the preparations is clearly stated: “SO THAT YOU WILL ALWAYS BE WITH ME WHERE I AM.” (3) Jesus warned His disciples that He would be separated from them for a time, but He would be spending that time preparing a new heavenly home. Then, when the preparations were complete, He would come back for them and from that time forward, they would never be separated again.
Like Thomas, we can be slow to see things from God’s perspective. (5) In John’s gospel, Thomas is most frequently the one who required more convincing (11:16; 20:24-25). This problem isn’t unique to Thomas: it’s human nature. We can be so thoroughly immersed in the moment (good or bad) that we can’t see beyond it. When that happens, we need to do what Jesus got Thomas to do: focus on Jesus. (6-7) Jesus is the personal representative of God the Father. His words reveal the Father’s will.
2. Jesus is the solution for troubled hearts.
This phrase could be translated so that WAY is the thrust of the passage, TRUTH and LIFE are elaborations on the WAY. Take it that way if you wish; I don’t, but I don’t think it makes much of a difference either way.
Jesus is the WAY to God the Father. (6) Following God through life is often depicted in the Bible as a path. The earliest followers of Jesus referred to themselves as “the Way” (ACS 9:2; 19:9, 23), derived from ISH 40:13, a verse referencing the Messiah.
Every WAY has three things in common: a starting point, a finishing point and the distance between the two. In chapter one of this gospel John identified Jesus as the Word, present from before the beginning of creation. Remember our study of John 10 where Jesus said He said, “I am the Gate.” Put these together and we find out that Jesus is the beginning, the path in the middle, and the gate at the end. He is our entire journey toward God.
Jesus has told us the TRUTH about God the Father. (6) He revealed God the Father in His body, in the sinless and perfect life He lived. Jesus also revealed God the Father in His teaching. This is THE Truth - absolute truth - not the subjective nonsense that post-moderns pass off as “personal truth.” This is truth of the highest authority embodied in Jesus. We have been given examples of devotion to the truth in a couple of Psalms: 86:11 and 119:30.
Jesus gives us the LIFE God the Father has prepared for us. (6) All these “I AM” statements have to do with eternal life, affirming the fact that Jesus alone has the power to give life (5:26) and He uses that power to give life to whomever He chooses (5:21). As unpopular as this truth is in modern culture, Jesus is the sole access to eternal life (3:15, 16, 36; 5:24).
Choose trust in God to bring an end to trouble.
I am not a fan of GPS apps on phones and don’t trust them. I’ve been burned a time or two with nonsense directions down dirt roads, etc. In that vein, I want to conclude this morning with a story of GPS malpractice. This comes from Suzy Shry on the travel website Atlas Obscura. It’s titled "The Oldest Joke in the Book."
“Many years ago I accompanied my husband to a conference held at Carnegie Music Hall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This was before cell phones and GPS were common (at least I didn’t have them) but I was driving our new Chevy Tahoe which had a magical feature called ‘OnStar.’
“I had a grand time exploring the area. As usual, I was confident in my ability to retrace my route but I suppose I was more adventurous than usual because I had OnStar available if needed. When it was time to return and meet my husband, I found myself hopelessly lost. I pushed the OnStar button and was connected to a disembodied voice that promised to guide me back to Carnegie.
“Well, it didn’t work. I was met with one-way streets, construction, and every manner of obstacle as OnStar tried to assist me to my destination. The OnStar guy was on the verge of giving up when I saw a police car at a convenience store. I said goodbye to OnStar and approached the police officer. I asked him, ‘How do you get to Carnegie Hall?’
“The officer gave me a big smile and responded, ‘Practice, practice, practice!’”
It’s a groaner, I know. But it happens to illustrate how we get to heaven. We need a guide. We need Jesus to show us the way. When we follow His guidance, we will “practice, practice, practice” our faith each and every day.
Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol. 13, The Gospel of John, Grant R. Osborne
Messages #1111 + #1148
https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/i-am-the-way-the-truth-and-the-life-paul-green-sermon-on-jesus-christ-137261, retrieved on 8apr22.