John 14:1-11 Sermon Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life by Tim Giovanelli

In this sermon, Pastor Tim explores Jesus explosive claim to be the way, the truth and the life to God. The sermon addresses what we do with the uniqueness of Jesus’ claims in a world of other religions and worldviews, and how we can regain confidence in the truth of Jesus by rediscovering the way of Jesus.

John 14:1-11

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.

So we start chapter 14 and it is one of the most famous teachings in the John’s Gospel.

  • Jesus says he is the way, the truth and the life.
  • He says he is going away, in order to prepare a room for us in his Father’s house.
  • And again he equates meeting himself with meeting God. “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”

But the whole context of chapter 14 is Jesus comforting his disciples 

  • I wonder how often your hearts are troubled?
  • Jesus starts this section of the farewell discourse by saying “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.”
  • Now of course the obvious context to that is the disciples have just heard that Jesus is going to give his life up, much like a seed falling to the ground…
  • It is through this act of self giving love, he explains that we will be rescued and eternal life will be given to his followers. 

But of course for us too, we can find encouragement from this passage as we travail through life with all of its ups and downs… 

  • Life can seem like it is going along quite smoothly…
  • Then tragedy or death can come… and what then provides comfort?
  • In fact I know few people who have not suffered or experienced major challenges in their lives… particularly not if you’ve done a few laps on God’s green earth!
  • And I guess I would say if you have never ever really been through the valley of death or major challenges…
  • To prepare yourself with good character and strong faith… because it will come. 
  • The only sure two things in life as they say are death and taxes… 

Some of you will know that 8 years ago Victoria (my wife) had a stroke… 

  • Now I’ll let Victoria share her part of the story another time… and that is actually much more interesting. 
  • Woke up paralysed… rush to hospital and operated on… wheeled her in… 
  • Life returns back to normal quite quickly… but at the same time it profoundly changed us.
  • For one thing in that waiting room, my trust in Jesus was tested… 
  • Not in the, unless everything works out perfectly, Jesus has let me down… way
  • But rather in the sense of “do not let your hearts be troubled.” It was the presence of God, the peace of Jesus and the gift of faith that sustained me. 

Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who with her family helped many Jewish people escape from the Nazi’s and the holocaust in World War 2.

  • Eventually she was caught and sent to a concentration camp
  • And you can read about how she found and shared hope in God while in the concentration camp in her book The Hiding Place
  • But she famously said; “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”
  • In other words, it is in the hardest times in your life that you learn to trust in God.

Well, all through John’s gospel, Jesus invites us to trust him, to believe in him, to be comforted by him…

  • And that’s a claim worth considering… 
  • Because here is the one who is walking on water, raising his friend from the dead, healing the sick…
  • And he is claiming that we should trust him. 
  • He is the one in whom we find God, and he is saying “do not let your hearts be troubled.”

A couple of weeks ago, I did the swim down in Manly with a big northerly swell pushing into the point. 

  • Picture… we swam all the way to Shelley and then as is our normal overly competitive way, we raced back…
  • But when we got to the point, the biggest set of the day came through and we were caught on the inside…
  • Under, up, under, up, under up… and I was done… heart rate was 200… I was out of breath…
  • Moment of realization: No one coming to help or save… had to trust in myself…
  • That is a scary prospect…
  • How much more so if you have no one to rescue you in life who you can trust.
  • Let me say this clearly: Do not let your life get in that position where you have not allowed Jesus to come and rescue you and help you!

So, verse 2, Jesus says; 

“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

Now here is what is interesting in understanding this…

  • When Jesus talks about his Father’s house, what is he talking about?
  • Heaven? Well yes… the afterlife… well yes…
  • But we can get more clarity than that by understanding what Jesus meant…

So, the other place that Jesus talks about his Father’s house is when he clears the temple in John chapter 2. Do you know that story?

  • This is Jesus at his righteously indignant best!
  • He goes to the temple in Jerusalem and finds people making money and he turns over their tables and says;
  • “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”
  • The religious leaders ask for a sign to prove his authority and Jesus says “destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in 3 days.”

Now what do we make of all of this? Stick with me… 

  • Well, the temple, which is what Jesus calls his Father’s house, was the place where the Jews believed heaven met earth… its where they met God.
  • And that’s why Jesus alludes to his bodily death and resurrection being the new temple
  • Because Jesus is where what?
  • Jesus is where heaven meets earth. He is the new temple. Want to meet God, meet Jesus…

So Jesus makes the bold claim that he uniquely knows his Father’s house…. He knows and prepares it’s rooms.

  • He knows that in his death and resurrection he will be preparing a place for you….
  • Preparing a place in the future new heaven and new earth that we will take part in when God makes all things new!
  • He boldly claims that in this place, he can uniquely take us to be where he alone will be!
  • When our life on earth is done, we will be with him in heaven!
  • So trust him, believe in him, confess him, call on him… and you will be saved!
  • You will have a room in the Father’s house. 
  • And that’s a pretty good reason no matter what you are gong through to be comforted. 

So verse 5 Thomas said to him, 

“Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Now for some, that may raise questions for us in relation to other religions, what about those who don’t know Jesus? Around the uniqueness of Christ?

  • And we live in a world where we are more aware of competing philosophies and religions…
  • And you may know people of other religions and they’re probably good people!
  • And of course you know people who confidently believe in nothing… 
  • So what are we to think of the claim that Jesus is the only way to God?

The late newspaper columnist Bernard Levin said this in relation to the point that Jesus used unequivocal language. He said;

  • “I take it that a religion which claims to be following the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth must, even if only by a process of elimination, think that the other religions are, for all their holiness and worship, mistaken.”

Let me say two things…

Firstly, I think when it comes to other truth claims and religions, Jesus is still unique in what he claims…

  • For instance, Mohammed claimed to be a prophet speaking on behalf of God… his followers would never worship him as God.
  • And its not clear if Buddha believed in the existence of God as such, and considered himself more of a teacher than a saviour.
  • Jesus says “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”
  • While other religious leaders pointed away from themselves to discover God, Jesus said “I and the Father are one.”
  • In todays passage, to Philip’s question “show us the Father?”
  • Jesus says “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”

In Acts 4, the same John who wrote this gospel has just healed a crippled man outside the temple with Peter….

  • Peter proclaimed Jesus as the “author of life” who had been crucified but was now resurrected and glorified. 
  • They were arrested and put under huge pressure on trial… and asked “by what power” the crippled man had been healed.
  • Peter (it says) “filled with the Holy Spirit” replied that it was “by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth” and that “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

I like what the theologian NT Wright says about even Christians rejecting the uniqueness of Jesus. He says;

  • “The trouble with this is that it doesn’t work. If you dethrone Jesus, you enthrone something or someone else instead. The belief that all religions are really the same sounds nice and democratic, though the study of religions shows that isn’t true.”
  • He says; “What you are really saying if you claim that they’re all the same is that none of them are more than distant echoes, distorted images of reality.”

Now none of that means we need to belittle other religions or think they are all wrong all the time

  • Right? We can still recognize there are elements of good teachings like charity and kindness in a lot of worldviews and religions…
  • But we’d say, come meet Jesus, the one who claimed not to know about God
  • But who claimed to be God. 
  • And backed it up with signs and wonders, with sacrificial love and ultimately defeating death itself. 
  • Come to the one true living God who has acted decisively within history to rescue the world… 
  • Jesus is the central player in how God has revealed himself and acted….
  • He is the way, he is the truth, and he is the life. 

One of the nice things about my kids getting a bit older is that the TV is now not permanently on ABC for Kids and Bluey… as great as Bluey is

  • In fact Luca and sometimes even Hope love watching the cricket and rugby league with me…
  • And when we get a chance to watch a show, Victoria always has two she calls for… CSI (the original, not the LA one…)
  • And her other favourite is… anyone guess? 
  • Undercover Boss… and usually there is every chance that during the great reveal, Victoria will tear up…
  • Do you know Undercover Boss? The premise is that a high flying CEO of a large company goes undercover as an employee in one of their chains of restaurants locations, or they work in a store…
  • And they always seem to wear a dodgy moustache and glasses… and that is enough to fool the other employees…
  • But it is kind of cool, because the CEO gets to know the everyday workers and their problems and they roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty serving customers…

And what usually happens is that the employees, usually some hard done by person who would normally never get to meet the boss of the whole company…

  • They get to talk about their problems they are facing in their lives and issues with the company at ground level…
  • And then at the end of the show they realise that they have been hanging out not with some intern or fellow employee… 
  • But the boss themselves… someone who can actually change their situations and do something about their problems…
  • Dwelling among them has not been an authorized representative of the company, but the owner or founder, themselves.

When the disciples met Jesus, it wasn’t a supervisor or a guide 

  • They met the boss. They met the Master of life walking and talking amongst them
  • At the resurrection, when Jesus stood in their midst, Thomas proclaimed “My Lord and my God!”
  • This isn’t a guide or a guru… this isn’t an authorized representative… 
  • This was the author of life, showing them the way to the Father. 
  • Amen?

Well let’s finish with this…

In a world where there are lots of religions and worldviews… and indeed many aggressively promoting secularism… 

  • How do we reclaim Jesus unique truth in a mixed up, messed up world?
  • Both for ourselves as we try and follow the one in whom we meet God…
  • But also as we proclaim to the world “come meet this Jesus, the name by which we must be saved.”

Because I think there has been a loss of confidence in the good news both personally and publicly….

  • And part of that is because the institution of the church has let so many people down….
  • And partly I think because we live in a world that is aggressively evangelizing us in other directions… 
  • My friend Ger sent me this advertisement he came across in Los Angeles the other day for a skin care brand called Sol De Janiero…
  • “time to worship you.” Right?

Well I think it is simple… to regain our confidence…

  • We need to rediscover the way of Jesus in order to proclaim the truth and life of Jesus.
  • Amen?
  • Let me say that again….
  • We need to rediscover the way of Jesus in order to proclaim the truth and life of Jesus.

The early followers of Jesus were called a lot of things… some not very nice… bit like today really…

  • But one of the names of the early Christians was “followers of the way.”
  • By this they meant followers of the way Jesus lived amongst us while he was alive on earth.
  • It is no great mystery that in John 13 Jesus had shown us what the way to the Father looked like…
  • It involved humble servant leadership, lowering himself to wash the dirt off his disciples feet…
  • The way of Jesus was what Lani spoke about last week… fulfilling the only commandment Jesus ever gave… 
  • “love one another as I have loved you.”

You can read about the early Christian’s confidence in proclaiming the truth of Jesus…

  • And it was done alongside continued miracles and an outpouring of the Holy Spirit…
  • But it was also done as they followed the way and lived in humble love for one another and the world. 

One manuscript we have from around 130AD comes from a young Greek writer defending the Christians to a Roman Governor called Diognetus. Let me quote some bits;

“There is something extraordinary about their lives…. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them (that is a reference to the ancient practice of dumping unwanted children on the city garbage heap to die). They share their meals, but not their wives. They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them… They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything… A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult… Christians love those who hate them…

Friends, as we discover the way of Jesus… we can confidently believe in him and proclaim him as the truth and the life! 

Published by timgiovanelli

My wife Victoria and I are planting a new church in Manly, NSW

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