Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 10, 2020 - John 14:1-14
Businesses use slogans to market themselves in a “way” that proclaims a certain “truth” which makes you feel like you have to buy their products to make your “life” better. Extra strength… good, maximum strength… better. Large… good, extra-large… better. This works for companies as we live in a world that can’t wait for the next “new and improved” products.
This is also how many people view religion. There’s a huge belief market out there. If you’re disappointed with your religion, you can just trade it in for a new one. Or… or… you can do the hip new thing and believe in nothing at all. After all, Jesus is just one of many ways, many truths, and many views of life held by people. The Lord doesn’t agree with that at all!
JESUS IS THE WAY AND THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE
Jesus is the way to the Father. Many people in the world believe there’s a different way of salvation. So they worship a different god. Many people argue that there are many ways to experience god or paradise. To them, Jesus is one among many. Some suppose that you can be a Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, pantheist, or pagan and still go to heaven because living a good life is what counts. Universalism – that everybody goes to heaven is popular today. Christians may fear saying anything that sounds exclusivistic in a world where inclusivity of all kinds is the rage. “You believe only Jesus saves people? You’re so unloving and close-minded.”
And yet, that’s exactly what Jesus – the man who conquered death itself has said, “I am the way.” The angel Gabriel said, “He will save His people from their sins.” Jesus said, “The Son of Man came… to give His life as a ransom for many.” Jesus sent the apostles out to preach forgiveness and salvation in His name. Peter said, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Paul proclaimed, “If anyone is preaching to you a Gospel contrary to the one you received, let Him be accursed.” Scripture isn’t unclear – Jesus is the way of salvation. There isn’t another way. That may offend, but God says universalism is sinful. It’s idolatry.
Jesus is the way and He is also the truth. We live in very interesting times centered on subjective experiences, that is, what I feel to be true. My generation was taught that there’s no such thing as absolute truth (which by the way is a statement of absolute truth; go figure). I have my truth; you have your truth; and we’re just supposed to agree to disagree. However, that’s not what’s happening currently in the culture. Instead, whoever can get the most or loudest voices on their side is the side that has truth. This is because culture has realized that not only do people believe in different “truths,” but these “truths” are also competing with one another.
All religions and philosophies have competing truth claims. Islam claims that Jesus is a prophet, not God; some Jews believe the Messiah hasn’t come yet; while Christians believe that the Messiah has come in the person of Jesus. Hinduism teaches a plurality of gods. Buddhism teaches being freed from suffering through certain works. These are some of the most prominent of many world religions. They can’t all be right. Jesus can’t be both God and not god. There can’t be both a transcendent being and a god who is exists in created things as pantheism teaches and no god at all. Those who believe in hell and those who don’t can’t both be right.
As Christians, we’re tempted to stray from the truth. We rightly hold to the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture, but we’re increasingly tempted to doubt its authority. We gladly listen to God’s Word as long as it doesn’t conflict with our personal worldview. The moment Scripture says something we don’t like, we often question the truthfulness of Scripture instead of the truthfulness of what we feel. This is incredibly dangerous, for it makes us – individually – the deciders of truth.
But Pastor, how can I know that Jesus is truth and what does that have to do with Scripture being true? Great questions! I’m glad you asked. Alleluia, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia! That’s how… No, seriously. That’s how. Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus conquered death. He claimed to be God and proved it by rising to life on the third day. Can you do that? No? Jesus did. Which also means that everything Jesus says is the truth, because He’s God. Which also means that Scripture is the truth, because Jesus takes the Old Testament as completely true and He says that the Law and the Psalms and the Prophets are about Him. Furthermore, He sends the apostles forth declaring that the Holy Spirit will bring to their remembrance what Jesus taught. And on top of that Peter says that Paul’s letters are Scripture. The internal testimony of Scripture’s truthfulness is actually pretty staggering.
Therefore, what God’s Word teaches is the truth. I don’t get to decide truth. You don’t get to decide truth. We aren’t God. Jesus is God, and He has proclaimed to us the truth and sent the prophets and apostles to teach us the truth of God through Holy Scripture. Jesus says, “If you remain in my Word, then you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” Paul writes, “All of Scripture is-God breathed.” Peter writes, “No prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus is the way and the truth and He is also the life. Many people look upon Jesus as a good man who called us to follow a way of life. Others see Jesus as one who can bless my earthly life. These ideas completely undercut our risen Lord’s power and authority. Jesus is the life – because He has conquered sin, death, and the grave. His power extends far beyond here and now. He will raise all the dead and give eternal life to all believers in Christ. Nothing else can even remotely give us the kind of life Jesus gives.
Without Jesus there’s only sin and damnation, but through Jesus you have been given amazing gifts forgiveness, life, and salvation. Is Jesus exclusive? You better believe it. Salvation, eternal life, forgiveness, it only comes through Jesus and what He has done. No one comes to the Father except through Christ. That’s not bad news. That’s really awesome news! That means you and all people have a Savior – Jesus! Jesus went the way of the cross to die for your sins and rise again so that all who believe in Him receive eternal life. He’s the medicine of immortality. So what if salvation is only in Him – we know where to find it! If they develop a cure for cancer, is someone really going to say, “That’s too closeminded and exclusive. I believe there are many ways to cure cancer.”? That’d be ridiculously silly. But people say it about Jesus.
Jesus is exclusive. No one comes to the Father except through Him. Is Jesus inclusive? Are you kidding me? He’s completely inclusive! Jesus came to save all sinners and all people are sinners. Salvation doesn’t depend on race, ethnicity, age, wealth, gender, social status, works, or anything else except Jesus Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of your sins. Jesus came for you. The promise is for you. He’s your Savior, your Redeemer, your Lord. Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Jesus is the way and the truth, and the life – it’s all interconnected. The truth is the way and it leads to life. Jesus is all of these for you and for the world. Proclaiming Christ to our family, friends, and neighbors matters so that they receive what we have in Christ Jesus. Amen.