1340.) John 14

John 14   (NRSV)

Jesus the Way to the Father

“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.

Take comfort; even as He prepares a place for us, He prepares us for that place.

–David Guzik

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, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Is Jesus the only way to God?

An often-heard disagreement with Christianity is “Jesus and Christianity are fine, and it is great that you have a way to God. But I have my own way, and the Muslim has his, and the Buddhist has his. All roads lead to God if we are sincere in seeking Him.”

If a Christian objects to such a statement, they are often met with the reply, “What right do you have to send me to Hell just because I don’t believe in Jesus the way you do?”

But the Bible tells us that Jesus is the only way to God. How can we say this? We begin with the basic truth that Jesus is at least a way to God. Was He a true or a false prophet? Was He at the very least an honest man? If Jesus is a true prophet – or at least an honest man – then what He said about Himself is true. Therefore, Jesus is the only way to God.

Simply put, if Jesus is not the only way to God, then He is not any way to God. If there are many roads to God, then Jesus is not one of them, because He absolutely claimed there was only one road to God, and He Himself was that road. If Jesus is not the only way to God, then He was not a honest man; He was most certainly not a true prophet. He then would either be a madman or a lying devil. There is no middle ground available to us.

Sometimes people object and say, “I believe Jesus was an honest man, and I believe He was a true prophet. But I don’t actually believe He said those things about Himself in the gospels. I believe Christians added those things in later on all by themselves.” But there is no objective reason for a person to make a distinction between “Jesus really said this” or “Jesus really didn’t say that.” We have no ancient texts showing us just the supposedly “true” sayings of Jesus. Any such distinction is based purely on subjective reasons – “I personally don’t think Jesus would have said that, therefore He did not say that – later Christians just put those words in His mouth.”

If it is all up to personal opinion – if we can determine what Jesus said or didn’t say on our own whims – then we can just throw out the gospels period. It really is an all-or-nothing deal. Either we take the words of Jesus as recorded by these historically reliable and accurate documents, or we throw it out all together.

To take it a step further, it is not enough to merely believe in Jesus. Shockingly, that isn’t narrow enough! The Bible also tells us the atoning work of Jesus on the cross was the only way salvation could be accomplished. In the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before His death, Jesus prayed if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me (Matthew 26:39). Jesus asked the Father if there was any other way to accomplish the salvation of man other than His atoning work on the cross, other than Him drinking the “cup” of His sacrificial death on the cross in our place, let it be so. But there was no other way.

The idea that all religious beliefs are equally valid, and all that matters is that we be sincere in our beliefs is so absurd that people would only apply it to religion. If you thought you were a cow – sincerely, of course – and insisted that you should stay outside and eat the lawn, men in white coats would take you away. Why won’t they allow you to be sincere in your beliefs? Because they objectively know you are wrong. Why do we apply the same muddled thinking to religion?

But is Christianity bigoted? Certainly, there are some who claim to be Christians who are in fact bigots. But Biblical Christianity is the most pluralistic, tolerant, embracing of other cultures religion on earth. In fact, Christianity is rather pluralistic – it is the one religion to embrace other cultures, and has the most urgency to translate the Scriptures into other languages. A Christian can keep their native language and culture, and follow Jesus in the midst of it. An early criticism of Christianity was the observation that they would take anybody! Slave or free; rich or poor; man or woman; Greek or Barbarian. All were accepted, but on the common ground of the truth as revealed in Jesus Christ. To leave that common ground is spiritual suicide, for both now and eternity.

–David Guzik

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. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.

12“Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
such a way as gives us breath,
such a truth as ends all strife,
such a life as killeth death.

Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
such a light as shows a feast,
such a feast as mends in length,
such a strength as makes his guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
such a joy as none can move,
such a love as none can part,
such a heart as joys in love.

–George Herbert

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

15”If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.

John 14:16 is one of the verses in the Bible that shows the underlying theme of the Trinity.  God the Son prays to God the Father that He might send God the Holy Spirit to us.

17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

18“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

THE SAME SPIRIT

It took me some time to realize that the Spirit whom Jesus gave to his disciples was not just the third person of the Trinity; it was the Spirit who had empowered Jesus’ own life and ministry.  The secret to Jesus’ life was the Spirit, and the Spirit is anxious to be the secret of your life and mine.

The Spirit was the one who initiated Christ’s conception.  It was he who anointed Jesus at his baptism.  The word Christ means “anointed,” so it was the Spirit who made Jesus the Christ.  It was the Spirit who led Jesus and sustained him through his temptation  in the wilderness.  The Spirit was the source of Jesus’ power over the demonic, and the Spirit enabled him to endure the Cross.  The writer of Hebrews speaks of Christ as the one “who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God” (Hebrews 9:14).  It was the Spirit who, with the Father, raised Jesus from the dead.  The Spirit was the key to the earthly life of Jesus.

Now on Jesus’ last night before the Cross, he told his disciples that he wanted them to have the same one in their lives who had been in his own.  He promised them the Holy Spirit.  And that promise is to you and me as well.  Have you received him?  Do you let him gently lead you?  This is your privilege as a believer in Jesus.  Read the promise in Luke 11:13:  “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”

22Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?”

23Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

25“I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

john-14-27-my-peace-i-leave-with-you

Isaiah 9:6   (NIV)

And he will be called . . . Prince of Peace.

28“You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. 30I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; 31but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.

“Rise, let us be on our way.”

_________________________

Music:

“Perfect Peace”  by Laura Story.  The song begins with a clap of thunder.

_________________________

Reflections:

1)   Do you believe that what Jesus said in verse 6 is true today, for all people — that “no one comes to the Father except through me”?

If you do believe that, what responsibility does that bestow upon you?

If you do not believe that, why do you think Jesus would say it?

2)   What do you find is the best thing to do when you feel un-peaceful?  Does reading and believing this chapter help you claim the fact of the peace of God, even in those times when you may not feel it?

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Let not your heart be troubled.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/letnotyourheartbetroubled-3.jpg
Holy Spirit dove – dome of St. Peter’s in Rome.    http://cdn1.vtourist.com/4/6520954-The_Throne_of_St_Peter_Vatican_City.jpg?version=2
Peace I leave with you.   http://julieamarxhausen.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/john-14-27-my-peace-i-leave-with-you.jpg
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