Sunday, May 14, 2017

Jesus, The Way, The Truth and the Life

14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; [1] believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? [2] 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” [3] 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. [4] From now on you do know him and have seen him.”8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do 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 authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. 12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me [5] anything in my name, I will do it.(John 14:1-14 (ESV)
Thomas said  to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know he way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
So Jesus answers Thomas, who did not comprehend what Jesus was talking about or know the way of which Jesus spoke. We know Thomas as doubting Thomas, but he was no hardened skeptic. He was just a simple man who did not always grasp metaphor, or a larger picture. He was a man who was willing to ask the simple questions that many of us are too afraid to ask. “Where is it again, this place that you are going?”
It could be that it was too hard of a pill for Thomas to swallow, the reality of it behind Christ’s words. Jesus was leaving. He was going to prepare a place for them. He would come again and bring them there, but in the meantime, you know how to get there. Wait, what? Just to be certain Lord, clear this up for us, where are you going, and how do we get there?
One could perceive Jesus was talking about heaven when he starts talking about going to his Father’s house and many mansions and all that. Jesus might know the way to get there, but we often do not. There is a lot of uncertainty out in the world as to how to get to heaven and who makes it there. Most of us are pretty certain no one makes it there without dying. Then again, if we don’t live the right life here on earth, maybe we don’t get there? Maybe we go to that other place? That place so horrendous we teach our kids not to say it so that often they are afraid to even repeat the Apostles Creed in which we confess that Christ himself went to Hell. And he did, and not the city in Michigan that freezes over every winter. Jesus went there on a detour to his Father, he wanted to preach to the souls there, declare his victory, rub it in Satan’s face a little. And why not? It belongs to him, he created hell, not for man but for the devil and his angels.  Hell is not the dominion of Satan any more than this world is. Hell is Christ’s dominion and he created it as a torture chamber for the demons, who are more afraid of the Abyss than we humans are smart enough to be.
Jesus is going to heaven, and he is going there not for himself, but for us. He is going there that we may be there also, to prepare a place for us. He prepares the place for us by dying. Yes, that is how we do get there, by dying, but by dying in Christ.
And that is what it means to believe in the Father and to believe in Jesus also, to die in Christ. To trust him and his death and resurrection for the salvation of your soul. It isn’t what we expect. When Thomas asks for Christ to clarify the way, we are given to think of directions, a list of rules to live by. Jesus doesn’t give them. “Trust in me,” he says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. The law can’t get you to the Father, only I can, only my atonement.”
It can be a rather difficult thing to do though. It seems simple enough. Just let go. No, it isn’t letting Jesus take the wheel. He has the wheel, already. It’s trusting him. Maybe a bit like trusting the cab driver in Italy last Tuesday night. What a ride! He had the wheel, and I hadn’t had a ride like that in twenty some years. It was a bit exhilarating, as he pulled out into oncoming traffic to ride the center line and push the guy he was passing and the cars coming on onto the shoulder. All the sudden Laura begins to realize why I drive the way I do…. It was where I learned to drive. No one thinks anything of it. But after twenty years, it brought back a rush. I knew he was in control. Life can be a bit like that when we let Christ have the wheel though. Things are thrown at us, and we think we could do better if we were in control. Right. Not a chance. We grab on to the law thinking it is the wheel, but in doing so we drive ourselves into the ditch. We think we can get ourselves to the destination perhaps on our own steam. We can just live the righteous life and avoid death altogether. Jesus knows there is no avoiding death and plunges headlong into it. Then he plunges you into it because he knows you wouldn’t do it either. Plunges you headlong into death in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, buries you into his death, and raises you up again to the newness of life that you can walk with joy in the sun. Now it is no longer you and the law, but Christ who lived the law perfectly in you. Now it is no longer you living by the law, but in the love of Christ doing the law, not for yourself, you already died, but for your neighbor because Christ is the way the truth and the life, he died for you, that you might live in him and he in and through you. And so he gets you to the final destination and you can laugh at the ride.

Now the peace of God that surpasses all Understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen. 

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