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Sunday Worship Service begins at 10:30 AM
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I AM The Way, The Truth and The Life - September 24, 2017

John 14:1-11

In addressing this passage, it's important for us to look at what it says, as well as what it doesn't say. For a lot of years, by a lot of people, it's been taken as a claim of exclusivity in Christ that trumps all others. Meaning that if you don't profess Christ with your lips...if you don't claim him as your Lord and Savior, there is no heaven in your future.
A good number of us have heard, or had this passage interpreted in this way:

You should be very troubled, because if you believe in God, but not me, you will be shut out of my Father's house in heaven, where there are a few small rooms for the few who get it right.... Then Thomas said to him, "Lord, what about people who have never even heard of you? Will they go to heaven after they die?" Jesus said to him, "I am the only way to heaven, and the truth about me is the only truth that will get you to life after death. Not one person will go to heaven unless they personally understand and believe a clearly-defined message about me and personally and consciously ask me to come into their heart."

Now, that's not what Daniel read, and it's not what the Bible says, but it is what a lot of us have heard. We've heard that Jesus is ruling people out, excluding them from the embrace of heaven unless they do x, y and z. The challenge is, that that really isn't what this passage is about. This passage is answering a question, but the question isn't "What about people of other religions?" The question is "How do we follow you if we don't know where you are going?" Those are two very different questions. To really understand, and trust, what Jesus says here, it's important that we learn the crux of the passage.

The prelude to today's passage is Jesus in the upper room with his disciples. They are sharing a meal and Jesus is emphasizing the most important lessons of their time together before his betrayal and crucifixion. This conversation is another part of that dialogue. In the first part of this chapter Jesus tells the disciples that he is going to prepare a place for them and that they know the way.

But Thomas, always thinking in real concrete terms says, "No we don't! We don't even know where you are doing...how on earth could we know how to get there!?"

And, in essence, Jesus answers...you don't need a map. You don't need the name of a city. For "there" is not a place....it is a relationship....it is co-existence with God and the way to "there" is not by a process, or 12 steps, or 10 rules, but through the one who already has the relationship. If they want to get "there", then they need to look to Jesus and follow him.

To which Thomas would ask, "Follow him where?! Where are we going?" And Jesus would say, "Not follow me where but follow me how." It's no longer about going from Galilee to Tiberias or from Bethlehem to Jerusalem. It's about following Jesus as an example and as a model. What matters is not where they walk, but how they live. To follow Jesus as the way is to live and love like he did.
In their conversation Jesus tells the disciples they have had the opportunity to know the Father and Phillip asks if they can just see God. (Now, if you know anything about the scriptures, you know that's not really something you want to ask for....anyone whoever sees God face to face dies. Don't ask to see God. God is too big, too magnificent, too much beyond our comprehension that it's too much for us to handle. We can't bear to be face to face with God directly. Don't ask.) Except, that Jesus says, you have seen God...you have seen God translated into human form. You have walked with him. You have shared meals with him. You have seen him heal the sick, and forgive the sinners. You have seen God, for you have seen me. Jesus is God in the flesh....in a form we can see, and touch, and comprehend. If we want to see the Father, if we want to understand God in who God is and how God acts, we need only look to Christ. He is the embodiment of God. That means if we want to see God, if we want to know God, if we want something tangible to hold onto about God...then we look to Jesus. Seeing God face to face would still be too much for any of us. BUT, Jesus is the revelation of God that makes it so that if we see him and understand him, then we can see and understand God. And if we want to get close to God, then we need to get close to Jesus. And the way we do that is to live like Christ.

"Just trust me. Everything you need is in me. I will bring you to my Father's house [whether that means heaven after death or the kingdom of God on earth]. 'The way' or 'the truth' or 'the life' aren't things separate from me. I am these things, so you'll find them in me! Whether or not you know what I've been talking about, if you know me, you know the Father, you know the way, you know the truth, you know the life."

"The way is the truth, and the truth is the life, and the life is the truth, and the life is the way ... and all of these are found in me."

"Guys," he's saying, "it's not about knowing information, techniques, directions, or instructions: it's about knowing me, trusting me! Stay in relationship with me, abide in me, and I'll get you to the place where you belong – the kingdom of God, knowing God, living in dynamic interactive relationship with God – the place that I've been telling you about from the beginning!" In this way, "I am the way ... there's no other way apart from me" is a restatement of reassurance: "Trust in God, trust also in me. Don't let your hearts be troubled – trust me!"

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