“Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times. Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 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. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (John 13:36-14:7 ESV)
Have you ever noticed how hard it is to change? I’m a creature of habit. I follow a pattern every morning. It helps me do all of the things I need to do. I won’t bore you with the details, but it helps. When things change, I forget something. I suspect you struggle with change, too. Most of us do. We also read and understand Information and the world around us using habits we formed years ago. Let me illustrate what I mean.
I suspect most of you probably thought I would preach (or in the case of this blog, write) on the final verses of chapter 13 of John this week. But, the chapter and verse markers in our modern Bibles are not in the original text. They were inserted for convenience and to assist us in finding sections to read. So, out of habit we stop reading at the end of a chapter or, in my case, we stop developing a lesson from it because we assume the topic or focus has changed. If you didn’t notice, that’s not true in our passage (above) today. Go back and read it, again, if you missed it. Go ahead, I’ll wait for you… see what I mean?
Chapter 14 begins with Jesus assurance regarding troubled hearts. Reading that out of context should leave us wondering what our hearts would be troubled about, but when we read it in context with chapter 13’s conclusion then it makes perfect sense. Jesus has told the disciples he’s preparing to leaving and they can’t follow him. Peter challenges Jesus and states he would gladly die for Jesus, but Jesus’ response must be devastating to Peter: “You say you’re willing to die for me, but by morning you will have denied me three times.”
Troubled? Why would any of them be troubled after those two bomb shells get dropped. “I’m leaving and you can’t go… oh, by the way, you can’t follow me because you’re going to deny even knowing me.” I suspect the entire group has just been shaken to their very core by this revelation. If Peter is unable to follow Jesus and will even deny knowing him, then the rest of us are really in deep trouble…
Initially, Jesus tells Peter he can’t follow him but then he says; “later, you will follow me.” It is crucial we understand the HUGE implications from those statements. Currently, none of the disciples have the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We will learn more about that in the weeks to come but, for now, they only have the physical presence of Christ and he’s just announced he’s leaving. All of the power and authority they’ve observed and drawn on over the past 3 years is about to go away. The light of the world is about to get shut off, and they have no backup generator.
Just imagine what would happen around your home if all of your utilities shut off for three days. Several years ago, we experienced a few days of no power following an Oklahoma ice storm. No heat, no lights, no refrigeration, no water for almost a week. Fortunately, there was power in town and we could shower and use the restrooms at work and get a hot meal at any restaurant. But, what if the power outage was broader. What if there was no power in the entire state for an entire week? We’d be panicking.
For the disciples, who had come to recognize Jesus’ power and authority as the answer to all of life’s struggles, this declaration of Jesus’ departure would have been tantamount to a massive earthquake or volcanic eruption. Life, as they knew it, would cease to exist. Wait, Jesus is leaving and we cannot go with him? Great. What are we going to do? Then they’re told that Peter will fail to be faithful. What else could possibly go wrong? This night started out great and now it’s all falling apart. Have you ever felt that way? Then listen to the very next words…
Don’t let your hearts be troubled by what I’ve just said… if you trust God, trust me. When things begin to turn bad quickly we begin to lose hope quickly. We are on top of the world one minute and then we’ve lost all hope the next. But, Jesus calls on them to consider their foundation for hope. Trust in God, and if you trust God then trust me, too. We need to hear and learn that lesson. We say the words, we claim to believe the scriptures, we wear the jewelry and we put the bumper stickers on our cars. When you say you trust God, TRUST Him. If you say you trust God, then TRUST His Son, Jesus.
Jesus says, “God has lots of room in His house and I wouldn’t tell you that I’m preparing a place for you if that weren’t true. Trust me.” Just reading those words makes me want to start singing, and the tunes that come to mind are rather eclectic. (http://youtu.be/-SN-46M0xUk and http://youtu.be/YfZ3qyYnzJ0 – I warned you they were eclectic). Now, here’s the part where that trust really shines through. Peter, who would spectacularly fail in his claim that night, is included in this promise. Jesus wants us to trust Him in our obedience, but also in our failures. God’s love for us is abiding.
I wanted to stop there and put in a conditional clause, but I can’t. God’s love for us is absolutely unconditional and eternal, but our love for Him is fickle. Now, don’t misunderstand and think that means we all experience God’s unconditional and eternal love because we don’t. But, that’s not God’s fault. It is ours.
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalms 37:4 ESV)
If you truly delight yourself in God, you will be delighted for all eternity with His presence. A room in His house and a seat at His table. However, if you delight in something other than God then you will regret that for all eternity. The very thing your soul most needs and desires is to walk with God. Why? Because you and I were made for that very thing, to walk with God, and when it was lost we became lost…
“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:8-10 ESV)
Still don’t believe me? Listen to Jesus’ words… “you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
You know the way to where I am going. You know the way… how can we possibly know the way? Because God has written it on our hearts. We know our walk with God is missing. We were made for this. That’s why worship is universal. That’s why man inherently seeks God. We were made for this. You know the way back to God. But, if you’re going to be like Thomas then listen clearly: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
There’s only one way back and that way is Jesus. He is THE way, THE truth, and THE life. I’ve highlighted the articles in that sentence and they perform a specific task by defining whether the noun is specific or nonspecific. In this case the nouns are specific, very specific. I am the way, the path to God. I am the truth, the truth of God, the truth about God. I am the life, the life giver, the perfect example of the life God intends for you. If you want to know and love God, I am the way to Him. The ONLY way to Him. We are going to look at this in more detail, next week…
Here’s an article to read regarding Jesus’ exclusivity claims.