I am the Way, the Truth & the Life

If the links don’t work for you, here is Amber’s video presentation I am the Way, the Truth & the Life, Coming Alive (Fruit of the Spirit) & Rescuer (Good News).

Here are the other All-Age materials—The Five Finger Prayer and the I am the way craft instructions.

Todays reading is John 13:31-38Open Link in New Window & John 14:1-14Open Link in New Window

Here is today’s reflection by Richard.

I wonder how many of you can think of common company straplines or slogans—here are a few you might recognise:

  • Every little helps
  • Just do it
  • vorsprung durch technik (progress through technology)
  • Because you’re worth it
  • Think Different
  • Love it or hate it

I will leave it to you to guess at which companies.

Churches too over the years have often had Biblical slogans—When I was young and growing up in Free Evangelical churches they often had a big noticeboard in front of the church with a biblical slogan on it, like: ‘For God so loved the world he sent his son’ or perhaps less welcoming ‘the wages of sin is death’

But the most common was: ‘Jesus is the way the truth and the life’. In modern parlance, if Jesus had a strapline or brand identity this would be it.

But this phase often quoted and we know so well comes in the context of Jesus preparing his disciples for what was to come, His journey to Jerusalem, death on a cross and resurrection. In today’ reading:

  • Jesus starts by telling his disciples that He is going away and they must love each other as He has loved them—unconditionally and with grace. It is not an optional extra, it is a commandment. The disciples are naturally upset by this news, Jesus is their master and a friend like no other.
  • Peter is the first to leap in and says ‘why can’t we come, I would lay my life down for you’. And we all know Jesus response—Peter you will deny me.
  • Jesus says don’t be troubled because I am preparing for you in my Father’s House and I will come back and take you there, but you know the way. Thomas then says we don’t know where you are going we don’t know the way, how can we follow you?
  • It is at this point Jesus say’s ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him’
  • Philip is confused and says, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied’. Jesus admonishes him and says ‘if you have seen me you have seen my Father, we are one’. The passage ends with Jesus encouraging his disciples to go out in His name.

The disciples were bewildered, in time they would understand following Jesus death and resurrection but for now, they were struggling to comprehend what Jesus was trying to say to them. It is good to remember that these disciples would give up everything, including their lives in some cases following the way of Jesus.

As I was trying to think about today’s passage from John I thought it might be useful to illustrate and contrast the Way the Truth and the Life with what is on offer in this world.

  1. The Way for many in the world is an array of self help guru’s and their books and blogs, enabling us to manage our physical and mental health, weight, children, finances and workplace ,and so on and so forth. Don’t get me wrong some of them are extremely useful but they are not an end in itself. We usually grow out of them, get bored and seek the next whizzy thing that will change our lives for the better. Ultimately they will not bring us the satisfaction we desire because the only real change comes from within and none of these experts can do that.
  2. The Truth is very flexible in this world and its flexibility is not new. Two thousand or so years ago Pontius Pilate famously said ‘What is truth?’ when Jesus said in John 18:37Open Link in New Window ‘the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.’ What Pilate is effectively saying is that the truth is what you want it to be.

    A couple of week ago two media outlets published something inaccurate about the charity I work for. As a result I got a number of people asking what was going on, including a major donor who thought we were closing—it has been potentially very damaging. One of those media outlets is highly regarded for excellent journalism and following my complaint they did change the article but it is still misleading so I have complained again. The story published fitted a narrative for both media outlets so they did not bother to check the readily available facts. Half truths and untruths dressed up as truth is not however limited to the media is pervades every aspect of our lives, including our own. We call it all sorts of things—spin, angle, marketing and in some cases silence.

  3. Life for many centres around what they can obtain or enjoy. The advertising industry thrives on and feeds the desires within us all. A good life is seen as a successful life, a fulfilled life and of course on a daily basis we are sold imaginary lifestyles that don’t exist because no-one has a perfect life. There is of course nothing wrong with being fulfilled and successful but without God it is temporal and dies with us. And of course there are countless millions of people on this earth whose lives are blighted by poverty, hardship and illness—what about them?

On the other hand through Jesus we are offered an alternative:

  1. He is the Way. Throughout the history of the Jewish peoples to walk in the way was to keep your eyes fixed on God.
    1. In Deuteronomy 5Open Link in New Window God commanded Moses: (v32) You shall be careful therefore to do as the Lord your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. You shall walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.
    2. The Psalmist in Psalm 27Open Link in New Window says: Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path.
    3. Isaiah 30:21Open Link in New Window And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it”, when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

    The Old Testament images are of a way of holiness, keeping on the right path eyes fixed on God and his promises. Jesus goes a stage further by declaring he is the actual way. One of the commentators gives a good illustration. If you have ever been lost you have probably asked for directions. People are usually helpful and will tell you to turn right then first left and then past the roundabout etc. By the time you have got turned right and left you are lost. However, they might say ‘I will take you there’. The person becomes the way. This is what Jesus does for us, he takes us by the hand and leads us each day. Through his death on the cross he is the way to eternal life, enabling us to be blameless before God. That is an incredible thought.

  2. Jesus is the truth. What does this mean? We grow up learning all kind of facts and truths including moral truths, at school and for many of us here, in church. Those who have taught us I am sure have been largely good people and many have set a good example in the way they conduct themselves. None however, has been perfect. None of us is perfect, so when we teach or taught our children not to lie or be unkind we know that we have done both.
    When the Pharisees were condemning the woman caught in adultery and were about to stone her to death, they asked Jesus what he thought – He said ‘those without sin cast the first stone’ (John 7Open Link in New Window). The crowd melted away. Jesus is sinless and without blemish, he is purity, he is the real truth. All that He said and did and commanded is true, he is the embodiment of truthfulness.
  3. Jesus is the life. A few weeks ago Gaby spoke on John 10Open Link in New Window, Jesus words: ‘I am the gate’. In this passage Jesus says ‘I came that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness’ (v 10). Gaby urged us to allow Jesus to give us that full life rather than listen to the voices which distract or rob us of that fullness. Jesus in declaring he is the life goes a stage further to say that by following Him, he will take us to the Father, to eternal life. No-one else can do this for us, only Jesus.

The way the truth and the life, can’t be found in what the world has to offer. But it can be found in this book—the Bible. It is the story of God in His love reaching out to His creation, us, and sending us His Son, Jesus to give us life, life in abundance and life eternal.

Amen.

There will be a video version of the service and a podcast of the sermon.

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