Series: The Teachings from the Upper Room
Pastor Richard Knight
Central Congregational Church
March 15, 2020
You’re familiar with the saying, “Saving the best for last.” It seems that Jesus did that the night of the Last Supper. Some of his most powerful words and most memorable and important teachings were given that night.
Thursday night was Passover, one of the most important nights in Judaism, celebrating the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. It was the meal that the disciples had celebrated every year of their lives. But now they were celebrating with Jesus in Jerusalem at a most dangerous and perilous time.
During a Passover meal Jews ask one another, “How is this night different than all the rest?” This night was truly different than all the rest. Let’s take a look.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.
4And you know the way to the place where I am going.” 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.”
Let’s jump right in.
The disciples’ hearts had to be wide open that night. And Jesus sensed that those hearts were filled with fear. So he says to them,
“Don’t be troubled. Don’t be afraid. You trust in God. Trust me, too. In the Father’s House, in Heaven, there are many dwellings places. God’s house is huge. There’s a place for you. I will come again and I will take you there, so that where I am you may be always.”
Such compassion, such love, such reassurance. Of course, we hear these words from this side of Easter. We know the rest of the story. They did not. All they knew was that trouble was all around them, and Jesus was saying that he was about to leave.
So, Thomas speaks up – Good Ole Doubting Thomas, Need-to-Know-for-Sure Thomas. “Lord, you’re going away? You’re leaving us? Where are you going? We do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him. “I am the way, the truth and the life.” “Thomas, don’t worry about the way – I am the way – don’t worry about not knowing everything – I’m the truth – don’t even worry about death – I’m Life!”
Let’s spend a few minutes with each of those attributes this morning.
I. Jesus is the Way
That’s a good word – Way. It’s an action word. It’s not static. It’s going somewhere. It’s alive! The Book of Acts tells us that before the early Christians were called “Christians” they were called “The Way.”
Acts 9 says Saul was persecuting all those who belonged to “The Way.”
Christianity is a Way, a Way of Living, a Way of Life.
“Teach me thy ways, O God, that I may walk in them” (Ps. 86:11).
God used the phrase to the Israelites – “Do not turn aside from the way I have instructed you. This is the way. Walk in it” (Is. 30:21)
Jesus is the Way for us to live, the Way for us to walk, the Way for us to follow – in love, in service, in joy, in sacrifice, in kindness, in forgiveness – the ways of Jesus. But Jesus is not only the way to live, he’s also the way to God.
Hebrews 10 says, “Christ has opened a new and living way to God.”
Here Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”
Jesus is the way to the Father, the way to intimacy with God, so much so that you may claim God as your personal Father/Mother and you as a child of the living God.
This phrase, “no one comes to the Father except through me,” has produced countless questions and debates through the years. Does this mean that all other ways to God are empty and false? Aren’t there many ways up the mountain to God
Much has been written on the subject. I don’t want to spend too much time on it this morning, so I’ll cut to the chase.
Jesus is speaking to his disciples. He’s speaking on his own terms and with his own terminology. He is the way to know his Heavenly Father, to know God as he has taught them and lived out before them. God the Son is the Way to God the Father. This is the way Christians look at it. It’s a Christian text – he’s not speaking to those of other religions.
Jesus is not the way to Enlightenment. That’s Buddha’s job.
He’s not the way to obedience to Old Testament Levitical Laws, to kosher living – That’s Moses’ job.
He’s not the way to keep the 5 Pillars of Islam – that Mohammed’s job.
He’s the way to God the Father – that’s Christian terminology. That’s how we put it. That’s how we look at it! The larger issues we leave to the grace and wisdom of God.
This is a verse for Christ-followers.
Jesus is saying, through me you can know the God I speak about, the God I incarnate – this loving, accepting, forgiving, embracing, empowering, challenging God!
“Come to me and you will know this God. And that’s the truth. In fact, I am the Way . . . and the Truth.”
II. Jesus is the Truth
He’s the Truth about God revealed to us.
Hebrews 1 – ”Christ is the image of the invisible God.”
Col. 1 – “All the fullness of God dwelt in him.”
John 1 says Christ is the message of God made flesh.
Illustration. I had a friend in Maine that I had countless talks with about faith. He had more questions and doubts than a college religion professor. One day he said, “I believe in God, who is the Creator of all that is. I just don’t think we can know what God is like. God is not knowable. We can only speculate.”
My response was, “I believe we can know what God is like. That’s what the whole Jesus event is about. The earliest Christians believed that God was just like Jesus and Jesus was just like God – that’s why we call him, “Divine!” In fact, he once said, “When you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”
Illustration. A Little Girl was saying her bedtime prayers with her father. Toward the end of her prayer she gave thanks for her best friend, “Teddy.” After prayer time had ended her father gently asked her, “Isn’t God your best friend? She replied, “Teddy has a face.” Jesus puts a face on God. Jesus reveals the truth about God – God’s character, God’s essence, God’s heart, a heart of love. Christians believe he’s the definitive word on the subject of God. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
III. “Jesus is Life”
This is so important, and it’s such good news. Jesus is not just an historical figure from the past. He’s more than just a doctrine. He’s Life with a capital “L.” Jesus is not just a member of the Trinity – he’s the Life of the Trinity revealed to us and shared with us. Jesus is not just an ethical figure – he’s alive to walk with in The Way. Jesus is not just a philosophy, a way of looking at life, a way of trying to understand this world – Jesus is a living, breathing, energizing, empowering presence to commune with here and now!
Jesus is divine life offered to us – divine strength, energy, peace, purpose, power, joy and love poured into us through the Holy Spirit – the very Life of God given to us.
“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
Here’s something to think about – we need all three of these aspects of Christ. The Way, the Truth, and the Life. Without the way – there is no direction, no ethics, no values, no purpose, no sense of mission, justice, holiness. Jesus is the way for us to follow, the footsteps to walk in.
But Christ is also the Truth about God. Without the Truth there is only speculation and wishful thinking, and few people get passionately committed over wishful thinking – and God has gone to great lengths to show us what he is like – he is just like Jesus! Christ is the Truth about the Invisible God.
And Christ is the very Life of God poured into our hearts. Our faith is not just ethical and truthful, full of correct doctrine and faithful living – our faith is inherently spiritual and mystical.
I’ll close with a quote from the 15th C. mystic, Thomas a Kempis quote. He wrote a very famous book called, “Imitation of Christ.” What I’d like to read to you is his brief meditation on John 14.
“Follow me. I am the way and the truth and the life. 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 which thou must follow; the truth which thou must believe; the life for which thou must hope.
“I am the sure way; the infallible truth; the never-ending life. I am the straightest way; the sovereign truth, life true, life blessed, life uncreated. If thou remain in my way thou shalt know the truth and the truth shall make thee free, and thou shalt lay hold on eternal life.”