Immanuel Lutheran Church

Sermon

Easter 5

"Is your way THE Way?"

John 14:1-7

May 14, 2017

"You're on the way. Make Way! Way to go! Which way?" We use the word "way" as a direction. Seniors, you're going to hear this word a lot today. Today, your path is still uncharted and you'll have to make and find that way. There is one way to need to remember as you begin a new journey. It's the one Jesus talked about in today's Gospel.

Let's go back to the beginning. Ever since people began exploring the planet they have depended on navigational aids. Early on, they used the charting of the sun and stars. Later, they discovered the compass. As they explored, they made maps of the places they'd been. We need a sense of direction as we travel whether on familiar roads or unknown highways. It's hard to find your way when you're lost and disorientated.

Today we depend satellite guided GPS systems. Without them, we might lose our way. Suppose a friend told you, "I'm going to my dad's place. You know the way." That works only if you know where the dad lives. If you don't know where he lives, your maps, GPS and other directional aids will do you no good. This was Thomas' quandary. Jesus said He was going to His Father's house. It may be that Thomas was taking Him literally.

Where did dad live? Thomas knew it wasn't Jerusalem or Nazareth. If Jesus didn't tell them where the house was, how were they supposed to find it? Let's take a look at this conversation.

John 14:1-7 "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 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? 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. And you know the way to where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."

Jesus tells the disciples He is going to the Father. The Father is the destination. Thomas wants to know how to get to there. Jesus explains that He is the only way to the Father. Anyone who tries to find the Father without going through Jesus is going to get lost on the way.

John 14:6 is one of the most puzzling and difficult statements Jesus makes. Many people, especially in our politically correct society, find these words off-putting and non-inclusive. This statement doesn't make Jesus look like a big loveable teddy bear. Nevertheless, He states clearly and plainly that He is the only way a person can come to the Father.

It's curious that the first response of many is "but." But, what about all of those who never hear about Jesus? But, what about those good people who don't believe in Jesus? But, "what about . . ." and the list goes on. How can we be so narrow and exclusive? Remember, these are not our words but the words of Jesus. We are the messengers pointing out the path to those traveling through the journey of life.

How can such a simple statement generate so much controversy? With this statement, Jesus gives us both good news and bad. The good news is that we now have access to the Father. The bad news for many is that Jesus is the only way to access Him.

In our diverse and multi-cultural society, this is bad news. It's common to say all paths lead to the same place or that we worship the same God. In a sense our Lord would agree with them. All roads lead in the same direction, except for one. That's the way Jesus is talking about.

Jesus never said that following Him was always going to be easy. Listen to the words of our Lord when He explains what it means when He says that "I am the Way." He is saying that all paths lead in the same direction, except one. The one He points out to us is not the easy Way.

Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. [ . . .] Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

For many, these are not words of great comfort and encouragement. These are not words of cheap grace and easy faith. These are thoughtful, chewy, and even scary words. Our Lord is telling His disciples to stop and think about what it means to follow Him. These are not words that promise riches, ease and a lot of stuff. These are not the words spoken by the TV preachers who try to make Jesus out to be the Good Sugar Daddy.

These are words intended to be sobering and reflective. When Jesus speaks to Thomas, He is challenging Him to rethink His mistaken ideas about what it meant to be a disciple. Jesus challenges us with these same words. It's plain and simple: there is no other way to the Father.

Jesus not only tells Thomas that He is the "how" to get there but that He is also the truth and the life. Wow! That's heavy. Christ is the embodiment of all spiritual truth. This is another difficult concept for people to grasp. We live in an age where everything is relative. Pontius Pilate could be the spokesman for our day when he asked Jesus "what is truth?" In other words everyone claims to have a corner on the market but who can be believed?

All of the promises of God are revealed and given to us through Jesus Christ. Once we grasp the truth, we will have life and have it abundantly. God is life. If our life is not anchored in God, we will find only death. Christ is the vine. We are the branches who have been grafted into Him. He is the source of our life. Without Him we would wither and die.

Jesus can make these bold statements because He is the very Son of God. Only He fulfilled the Law perfectly for us and went to the cross to die for our sins. He continues to show us the Way as He comes to guide your life through the Word and in the sacraments.

Jesus makes a strong, bold claim: I am the Way. Can we believe this? Seniors, as you enter the brave new world, the question you must ask yourself: Is Jesus the Way? Many people will claim to show you the way. Yet, if it doesn't show you Jesus, not matter how exciting and appealing it is, it is not The Way.

Remember, our Lord says there is only one spiritual journey that will lead to God. Jesus has contrasted the narrow Way with the broad, easy, worldly avenue that leads only to destruction. He alone is the Way to the Father. Once we are on The Way, we will also know what is truth and life. With the Bible and the Holy Spirit as your guide, you will have all the navigational aids you need to follow Jesus who is The Way, The Truth and The Life throughout all the days of your life. Amen.


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