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The Way

May 22nd 2011 by Joel Schultz

In the Gospel lesson Jesus says: "I am the Way..." There are three important truths in that statement: 1) Jesus, is THE Way home, 2) Jesus is the ONLY Way home, and 3) Jesus is the only Way to OUR FATHER’S HOME. Read or listen to hear these truths explained further...

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Easter 5A – “The Way” – John 14:1-14 – May 22, 2011 Stories of lost pets traveling great distances to get home grab our attention from time to time. For example, Walt Disney in the movies The Incredible Journey and Homeward Bound tell how two dogs and a cat travel hundreds of miles through the mountains and forests to get home. That drive to get home takes them through many obstacles and dangers. They overcome hunger, rushing mountain streams, bears, and porcupines all to get home.

What makes their journey so incredible is that they had no path to follow. No one to tell them which way to go. No one to take them on the right way. Yet in the end they found the way.

Jesus’ words spoken the night He was betrayed teach you and me that we are much better off than those three pets. We don’t need to wander around aimlessly in the wilderness of life. We don’t need to face the dangers alone. We have One who does not merely show us the way; He is the Way. Jesus says, “I am the way.”

As we listen to the words Jesus speaks to His disciples and us, we hear and meditate on three truths that Jesus presents in those 4 simple words: “I am the way.” 1) Jesus, is THE Way home, 2) Jesus is the ONLY Way home, and 3) Jesus is the only Way to OUR FATHER’S HOME.

1) Those three pets had a strong desire to be home with their people. Human beings have a strong desire to be home as well. Our troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and even those in peaceful areas, I am sure, would rather be home with their families. We talk about “Home, sweet home,” Dorothy proclaims: “There’s no place like home,” and Perry Como sang: that “there’s no place like home for the holidays”.

We desire to be home, even though we know that our homes are not always as great as we imagine. There can be arguments, hurt feelings, disappointments, sadness, pain.

Jesus talks about a home free of all those troubles. “In my Father’s house there are many rooms” (vs.2), He says. He is speaking about the new creation – the new heaven and earth – the Last Day and the place where we will dwell with Jesus forevermore. In that place prepared for you, “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4). “Never again will [we] hunger; never again will [we] thirst . . . God will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes” (Revelation 7:16, 17).

What is more, God has created all of us with a desire to reach that home, deeper than any animal instinct. Our life, our very being craves that fellowship, that communion with Him. Psalm 42 says, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1, 2).

But there is a problem about finding our way home, a bigger problem than mountains and rivers and wild animals. The problem is sin. Sin has changed us. Because of our sin, our natural self hates God. By nature we want to run away from God, just like Adam and Eve ran away and hid after they had sinned. Our sin takes the desire to be with God and corrupts it into a desire to be like God, to be His equal. This desire wants to deal with God on our own terms. It wants to set our own standards for entrance into heaven. It wants to find our own way there.

The irony of it all is this same sin in us makes us totally unlike God. It makes us totally powerless to find a way to heaven. It makes us totally blind to the one and only way. The biggest obstacle between us and our heavenly home is our own sinfulness. For by nature we do not have the power, the desire, the strength, nor the ability to believe in Jesus or come to Him. But He is THE Way home. In fact, Jesus is the ONLY Way home.

2) Jesus clearly tells you and me, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (vs.6). That is the exact opposite of what our sinful self wants to hear. You see, if Jesus is the only way, that robs you and me of any credit in getting there. It puts you and me in the same class as everyone else – even the worst unbelievers in history. Without Jesus there is just no chance of heaven

Why? Because Jesus is the Way, the ONLY Way. Notice that Jesus does not say that He shows us the way. He says, “I am the Way.” You see, if Jesus showed us the way to heaven, then it would be up to us to take a step to come to Him, to decide to go His way. Then in our inner hearts we could think that we were better than those who are lost because we made the decision, we took that step. There are so many in the world who believe Jesus is only one of many who can show us the way to paradise. There are many who do not believe that Jesus is the Way at all. As you go off to college, you will meet many who do not believe that Jesus is the ONLY Way. You will have great opportunity to bear witness to what we believe about Jesus through your words and actions.

Jesus says, “I am the Way.” He is the one who grabs us as we are running the other way. He is the one who gives us His Holy Spirit through Baptism and His Word to turn us around by giving us new hearts. He is the one who carved the way through the mountain of our sin.

When the railroad had to cross the Rocky Mountains in the 1800’s many lives were lost in preparing the way. Think of what Jesus sacrificed to be the Way and prepare your heavenly home. He blasted away our pride by humbling Himself to the ridicule of the soldiers as they spit on Him, mocked Him, abused Him. His bloody hands tore away the boulders of our sins as the nails pierced them. His soul bore the full weight of our mountain of sin as He called out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He sacrificed Himself in our place to be the Way.

Did He succeed? Is He truly the one and only Way? Yes! You can be sure of it. Why? Because He is the Truth and the Life. His resurrection from the dead proves it. His rising from the dead proves that all His words are the truth. You can count on them. His return to life proves that He has conquered death. You, who believe in Him, have everlasting life – life at home in the new heaven and earth on the Last Day.

As I said to the children, Jesus is the only way home. Only those who trust that by the cross Jesus has taken away the mountain of our sins, that He alone is the Way because of His life, death, and resurrection for us, only those are traveling the right way. Through faith in Jesus you and I are one of them.

And see, that truth should inform our life as God’s people. This gathering called the church is not simply something that serves our needs but also an entity that looks outside of ourselves with a far greater concern for those who do not know Jesus as the Way and the Truth and the Life. The church must look outside to a world lost in the darkness of sin and death. Christians like you and I must witness of faith in words and actions in our daily lives…. For without knowing the Way, Jesus, many will not reach our Father’s house.

3) This brings us back to why heaven is such a wonderful place for us believers. It’s not simply that we will be free from the troubles of this life or because we will see our loved ones who died believing in Jesus. The greatest part of heaven on the Last Day is being in the home of our Father. That means our Brother, His One and Only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, will be with us forever. Jesus tell us, “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” (vs. 3). And later John would write in his first letter: “We will be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

Just think of that, you will be with the One who loves you so much that He offered Himself up on the cross so that you could be with Him. He sacrificed Himself to take away the mountain of your sins so that He is the one and only Way. Even the world recognizes that wealth and power without love doesn’t bring true happiness. In heaven you will be with the One who loves you most of all. You will be with Jesus. And you will be with the Father who in love gave up His Son for you. Being with our God and Savior is what makes the new Heaven and earth on the Last Day so wonderful.

Don’t follow any other way. In fact that is my special encouragement to those of your graduates who will be leaving for college and the rest of you college student who will be returning to classes in August or September – don’t follow any other way. It doesn’t lead you home. Don’t think of Jesus as simply showing you the way. He is the Way. His death and resurrection has prepared everything for you.

This is Peter’s encouragement in the Epistle today: “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation” (1Pt 2:2). He will bring you safely home to the house of your Father and His Father. Stay connected to Jesus in faith and you will dwell in His home forever in the light of His love. Amen.

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