Why Jesus? The Way

image (1)

14 “Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me. My Father’s house has room to spare. If that weren’t the case, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you? When I go to prepare a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me so that where I am you will be too. You know the way to the place I’m going.”

Thomas asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you have really known me, you will also know the Father. From now on you know him and have seen him.”

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father; that will be enough for us.”

Jesus replied, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been with you all this time? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I have spoken to you I don’t speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Trust me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or at least believe on account of the works themselves. 12 I assure you that whoever believes in me will do the works that I do. They will do even greater works than these because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask for in my name, so that the Father can be glorified in the Son. 14 When you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 I will ask the Father, and he will send another Companion,[a] who will be with you forever. 17 This Companion is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world can’t receive because it neither sees him nor recognizes him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be with you.

18 “I won’t leave you as orphans. I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Because I live, you will live too. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them loves me. Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them” (John 14:1-21, Common English Bible).

Lost on a back road in Alabama, a motorist asked the way to Montgomery. An old farmer, sitting on a fence, looked down the road, scratched his head and gave explicit instructions. Half an hour later, after carefully following the farmer’s directions, the motorist found himself back at the starting point. The farmer was still sitting on the fence, in placid contemplation of the landscape.

“What’s the idea?” the motorist asked, “I did just what you told me, and look where I wound up!”

“Well,” the farmer explained, “I didn’t aim to waste my time telling you how to get to Montgomery till I found out if you could follow simple directions.”

Sometimes life can be like that. It isn’t that we have someone giving us wrong directions, guiding us to a place we never wanted to go. It’s more like we make a wrong turn and find ourselves hopelessly lost and dependent on others to lead us the way and unfortunately sometimes it’s the wrong way.

This morning we are concluding our sermon series “Why Jesus?” The first week we asked the question, “Who Is This Man?” We remembered that sometimes it isn’t Jesus of the Bible we are following. Instead, it is our own version of Jesus, brought into being by our own imaginations to suit our own needs. Two weeks ago we moved on to a new idea and we talked about the company we keep and the fine line we walk. On the one hand, we keep with other Christians so we don’t follow those who lack faith in Jesus Christ down a wrong road and one day we wake up and look around. We can’t see Jesus anywhere, why? Because we made a wrong turn following others. Yet on the other hand, how can we make disciples of Jesus Christ if we never are with those who don’t know God? Last week we talked about the need for forgiveness. And where does that come from? It comes from Jesus who forgives us just as we forgive others.

This week we are moving on to talk about the path we must follow. It is a way that can be difficult. It is a way others will never take. Jesus said, according to Luke, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me.” Taking up a cross in no way sounds easy. Yet it is THE WAY we are called to move through lives.

In the lesson, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” Some folks in other denominations see salvation as a single event. You accept Jesus and that’s it. For us, as United Methodists, salvation as a journey. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, said for us to, “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.” To work something out means we don’t instantly have an answer. We are going to have to work at it.

Take one of those evil math problems my wife loves so much. If you have to work the problem, it means you didn’t know the answer to start with. There are some things where I know the answer and others I do not. I have to work at it., research it, and come to a conclusion. Sometimes that can happen quickly and other times, well, in this case, to work it out takes a lifetime.

In 1968, Dionne Warwick Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” written by Burt Bacharach. The song says, “Do you know the way to San Jose, I’ve been away so long. I may go wrong and lose my way. Do you know the way to San Jose?  I’m going back to find some peace of mind in San Jose.” When we get lost and ask for direction. I rewrote the lyrics to that song to fit better into our context.

“Do you know the way to Jesus Christ
I haven’t followed in so long I’ve lost my way.
Do you know the way to Jesus Christ?
I’m going back to him to have his peace in my heart it has to stay.

Life can be so hard and confusing
We get pulled first one way and then the other
In a day, maybe two
You just won’t see the Father,
Walking on life’s wrong paths, they flash right past
We bundled life, up into things
The thrill we have, it just won’t last

You can really talk to Jesus Christ
Just bow you’re head, he listens all the time
As Christians breathe, we all should pray the same old way
Through faith in Him, I’ve left behind all of my grime.

I was taught to Him I’d pray
I’m going back to Him
Living in his way, I will not stray.

Fame and fortune are both magnets
They can pull you far away from your faith
With God inside you’re not alone
Turn back to Him, I really cannot wait.
Then you’ll see some brand-new traits.
What a friend I have in Jesus Christ
Do you know the way to Jesus Christ?

Jesus says, “I am the way.” When we must find the way. We look to Jesus because he is the way and we really need to find our way.

Jesus said, “I am the truth.” What does that mean? In his John wrote:

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word was with God in the beginning. Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being. What came into being through the Word was life and the life was the light for all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.

 The true light that shines on all people was coming into the world. The light was in the world, and the world came into being through the light, but the world didn’t recognize the light. The light came to his own people, and his own people didn’t welcome him. But those who did welcome him, those who believed in his name,
he authorized to become God’s children, born not from blood nor from human desire or passion, but born from God. The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son,
full of grace and truth.
(John 1:1-5, 9-14, CEB)

            If we believe in God, what God does is the truth. What John is saying in that passage is, Jesus is God. John doesn’t use the word Trinity but the first verse supports the idea. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” John is telling us Jesus was here from the beginning and Jesus is God. In other words, Jesus is the second person of the Trinity.

In John 19, as Jesus stands before Pilate who asks him, “37 “So you are a king?” Pilate said. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. I was born and came into the world for this reason: to testify to the truth. Whoever accepts the truth listens to my voice.” “What is truth?” Pilate asked.

            In the movie, A Few Good Men, Jack Nicholson plays Col. Nathan Jessup is on the witness stand during a court-martial. Tom Cruise plays Lt. Daniel Kaffee. Jessup asks Kaffee, “What do you want.” Kaffee responds, “I want the truth.” Then Jessup famously responds, “You can’t handle the truth.”

            Jesus proclaims he is the truth. If we accept that Jesus is the truth, that means, we, who are people of faith, can trust in what Jesus, what God says. If you don’t believe Jesus is the truth, there is already a major trust issue.

            Pilate asked, “What is truth?” Jesus says “I am the truth.” And, as people of faith, we can handle the truth.

            Finally, Jesus says, “I am the life.” Jesus gave His life for us and Jesus is our example of how we should live as people of faith.

            In 1 John he writes, “God is love.” We are created in the image of God. That means we are created in love and we are to live out our lives in love. We are called to live that way, to take up our crosses and follow Him. That is our life.

            In his classic book, In His Steps, Charles Sheldon introduces the concept of “What would Jesus Do?” His idea? We live our lives as closely to Jesus’ example as possible. To do so, Sheldon says we are to stop before we do anything and answer the question, “What would Jesus do.” Then we must live out the answer.

            If Jesus is, the way, the truth, and the life, and we believe he is and that we should live by his example, continually asking ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” becomes central not only to our faith but the way our faith is lived out in our lives.

            One day, we will all stand before the Father who just might say to us, My Son is the Way, the Truth and the Life. How do you think you did with all that? My answer today and always, thank God for grace. I fail and I always will, just hopefully in different ways. The key is, pick yourself up and try again. Try to live, the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus did, and He calls us to do the same.

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s