Jesus is the way.
Jesus comforts the disciples letting them know that though He’s leaving, He’s making a way for them to join Him. When they’re confused Jesus makes it clear that He is THE WAY.
When Nicole and I first moved here it was in the fall of ’05 and Christmas was on a Sunday. Since we had only been here for a few months, I wanted to communicate that were very committed here and not miss any Sundays for the first many months, so we didn’t return to VA that year for Christmas, but my family understood.
That Christmas, and many other times through the years there were some tough good byes as family would come to visit or we would return to VA. Those goodbyes were always sad, but we knew they were for the best. We had a calling here to live out.
We’ve probably all had to say goodbyes that we knew were for the best, but even in knowing they were for the best, it was still hard.
Jesus is saying goodbye to the disciples, he’s told them in 13:33, 36-38 that he’s leaving and where’s going they can not follow. They are troubled by this. Chapter 13 ends with Peter asking why they can’t go with Jesus.
John 14 begins with Jesus response to the disciples, he’s responding to their fear, confusion, and sadness.
Jesus was extremely close with the disciples.
If we don’t grasp how close the disciples were to Jesus, we won’t feel the gravity of this moment and the significance of these words. It will be a, “I guess you had to be there” moment.
The relationship between Jesus and the disciples was more than a teacher student relationship, though those can be extremely strong relationships, the disciples were following Jesus everywhere He went for 3 years. They spent all of this time together. Experienced some really dangerous and exciting moments together.
In John 13:23 John refers to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved who was leaning on Jesus. Later in this same conversation, in John 15:15 Jesus would tell the disciples I do not call you servants- I call you friends. Jesus and the disciples were close, and this parting was going to be tough. Extremely tough.
So that’s the setting for what Jesus says in John 14.
We remember the important conversations.
With people that we are close to, we have conversations, phone calls, text messages, inside jokes, and you get to the point where you can communicate a whole lot with a glance. Some of these conversations are unimportant and they fade from memory. Some of these unimportant conversations fade, but important facts that we learn remain. Other conversations are so important that we will never forget them.
Jesus’ final conversation with the disciples after Judas left is extremely important. It takes up all of 15, 16, and 17. Now something that trips us up sometimes is that while this conversation continues, the disciples and Jesus make their way from the “upper room” where they had the meal and walked to the Garden where Jesus would be arrested.
John gives us more of this conversation than anyone else and we’ll spend several weeks covering what Jesus said in this final conversation with Jesus and I believe it’s going to be so helpful to see Jesus in this intimate, close, significant conversation.
The way it starts, in response to the disciples emotional distress, is Jesus telling the disciples to not be afraid.
Don’t let your heart be troubled.
Jesus first step is to care for their emotions.
Jesus does not want the disciples to be afraid or worry more than they should. He wants to calm their fears. Sometimes when someone is going through something, we want to be quick with advice. We want to be quick with solutions. I’m like this. I want to help. I’m a fixer and I want to fix it. That’s fitting and appropriate, but there needs to be some care for the heart of the individual. We should care for their emotions.
Jesus is comforting them when He should be comforted.
Now what’s really incredible about this is that Jesus is troubled about the cross. He knows it’s just waiting around the bend. That soon he’ll be arrested, tortured, and executed. He has a a few times over the past couple of chapters been “troubled in spirit.” In this moment, Jesus is caring for them. Jesus is caring for the disciples like parent care for children.
Parents have their own needs, wants, fears, frustrations… Parents get troubled in Spirit. When a child is hurting or afraid, we put those things aside for them, we are strong for the kids. Jesus is caring for the hearts of the disciples. If anyone can do this well, it’s Jesus. He says, don’t be afraid and then gives them reassurance.
Jesus reassures the disciples.
You trust God, so trust me too. He’s saying, you know God wants good for you, God has good for you, so you can have confidence that God has good for this too and in me. I talked through some heartbreak with a fellow Pastor recently who is not here locally. I was amazed that through it he had remained so strong as He faced adversity with his family. He kept saying, we know God good. Trust that God is good, we can rest assured that what we are facing or what is around the corner is good.
Jesus says, you trust God, trust me. Trust me that this is for the best, trust me that this is good. Jesus reassures them with trust and them reassures them with hope. How can you leaving be good? Jesus gives them 2 answers, 1 heaven. 2 the Holy Spirit.
Jesus comforts them with the promise of heaven.
We’ll talk about the 2nd next week, today we are going to look at the first. Jesus says, my Father’s house has many mansions. If it were not so, I would tell you. There are many things people say today just because it’s easier than the alternative. We use phrases like they’re in a better place, they’re with their loved ones, they’ve got their wings…
We say these things simply because we want to say something positive. Jesus says, if this weren’t the case, I’d tell you. I wouldn’t pull any punches with you. When Jesus says this phrase, he wants to communicate that heaven is permanent and spacious. Jesus was not emphasizing the extravagance of heaven, but rather the permanence and spaciousness of heaven.
There’s plenty of room for everyone and it’s a home where we’ll abide. The word he uses literally means a place of long dwelling. Homes were much less permanent in those days. The dwellings that Jesus is referring to in Heaven are permanent. This life is temporary. Life is short. The gift of life is fragile. Even the people with the most money and power in the world are not able to hold onto life longer because of their wealth or influence. Bill Gates has as much time today as you do. The President of the United States doesn’t have any more time than you.
In heaven, the dwelling permanent. It’s secure. It’s forever.
There’s also plenty of room. There are many permanent dwellings. Jesus is saying, where I’m going there’s plenty of room and we’ll never have to say goodbye.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
When we think of heaven, we tend to think of all the awesome stuff that will be there. Streets of gold and all of that… Heaven will be less about the what and where and more about the who. Heaven will be about being with the God and people we love. There will be no separating. There will be no goodbyes. Something that always comes up when people lose a loved one is, don’t take your time with family for granted. It’s over before you know it… In heaven, it will never be over.
4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
Jesus is saying, don’t worry. You know the way. You’ll be with me soon enough. In response to this Thomas and Phillip make some clarifications that are helpful for us. Thomas says, how can we know the way if we don’t know where you are talking about? They weren’t getting it. Jesus responds to Thomas with this powerful statement.
The 6th I AM statement.
I AM the WAY.
The word Jesus uses is extremely common. It’s used over 100 times in the New Testament in ordinary ways like they came across a man on the way. They came to the country by way of the sea. It’s any journey or trip or walk. It’s the journey you take. However, believers in Jesus came to be called “The Way” because they held that Jesus was the way to God. Paul says in Acts 22 that He was a persecuted of “the Way.” In Acts 24 when Paul is giving a defense of himself before Roman rulers he explains to them the truth of the way.
The imagery that Jesus had laid out for us that of people who are lost, who have gone astray, and He found us and He has led us back.
How do you get there? Through Jesus.
How do we get to be with Jesus? By following Jesus.
How do you get to Heaven? Following Jesus.
How do you get to God, the God of the Universe, the God who created us, loves us, and works all things together for our good?Following Jesus.
Jesus left so we could follow Him.
I’ve been told that I’m not easy to follow. If we are driving somewhere and you are following me, there’s a really good chance I’ll forget your back there. I run through yellow lights. I’ll fail to signal well in advance so you can have a heads up we need to be in another lane… I’m bad about going elsewhere in my head while I’m driving, I’m thinking about church stuff, or I’m thinking about my sermon for this Sunday or next…
When Jesus leaves, the disciples were on His mind, they were the reason He was leaving. He was going to the cross to finish making the way for them. We can have confidence in this because Jesus is the truth.
When we learn of Jesus, when we listen to His teaching, it rings true with something in our Spirit. That’ because Jesus is the truth. He’s not making this up. It’s real. He made us and knows us and can communicate to us in a way that connects with our soul…
The very best plays, movies, and books are build upon real experiences. Even fantasy and science fiction stories are strong only when they contain the emotions and situations that we connect with…
Jesus is the TRUTH. He is reality.
He is the life.
John’s gospel is all about life. He tells us that he has written these things that we might believe in the name of the Son of God and that believing we might have life… All of this is available in following Jesus.
Thomas A Kempis – Imitation of Christ
Follow Me.I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Without the Way, there is no going. Without the Truth, there is no knowing. Without the Life, there is no living.
I am the Way which you must follow, the Truth which you must believe, the Life for which you must hope.
I am the unalterable Way, the infallible Truth, the unending Life.
I am the Way that is straight, the supreme Truth, the Life that is true, the blessed, the full Life.
“NO man comes to the father but by me.”
Heaven is big and spacious, but there is only one way. The gospel is radically inclusive and extremely exclusive. Jesus is the only way. This is important, because the reason Jesus was leaving was to make a way for them and the reason the disciples were staying was to show everyone the way. In the rest of 14 Jesus tells them about the Spirit who will come and lead them into greater works than even He did.
In 15 Jesus speaks of remaining connected to Him and bearing fruit testifying of Him, in 16 Jeus tells them the Spirit will prepare hearts and give the disciples the words they need to share…
Jesus would send the Spirit so the disciples know what to do and say.
I heard Rick Bezet tell the story of his daughter Hailee running away from home. Rick is a pastor in Little Rock, Arkansas but when he lived in Louisiana his 4 year old daughter decided to run away. She had watched a movie where a kid ran away from home on a big adventure… She decided she was going to do the same thing so she packed a wagon with her stuffed animals and waited for everyone to fall asleep. Then she set out.
She was walking along a 4 line highway when a woman saw and said, what are you doing?
She said, I’m running away from home and it’s so much fun!
The woman said, is everything okay at home?
Yeah, she said. I just want to go an adventure.
The woman said, okay we’ve got to take you back home honey, this isn’t safe.
Hailee said, I can’t ride in the car with a stranger!
So the woman drove slowly behind her as she walked back home… Rick Bezet said, if she hadn’t come home that night, I’d still live in that same house in Louisiana, I’d still have a landline with that same number, just hoping that one day she’d come home or call…Someone would have to stay there to welcome my baby girl home.
Jesus went ahead to make a way. He left us here to show others the way.
All around us are people who are wandering away from God. They’re lost. Jesus went ahead to make a way, and He left us here to show others the way. That’s the reason the disciples were staying and Jesus was leaving. They had a job to do and the rest of the conversation Jesus has with them only makes sense if we understand that…
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