Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on January 8, 2017
Open your Bibles to John 14:1-14. Today we return to working our way through the Gospel of John verse by verse. I have to be honest with you, I have missed it. As we get back on the horse, I thought it would be a good time to remind everyone why we do what we do.
There are five ways to preach a sermon: Anecdotal, Biographical, Topical, Textual, And Expository. Anecdotal is the recounting of stories to convey a moral lesson. Biographical is the preaching of person and drawing moral lessons from their life. Topical is choosing a topic and using several different parts of Scripture to teach on that topic. Textual is preaching the text, but not making the main point of the passage the main point of your sermon. Expository is making the main point of the text the main point of the sermon.
When I look at what the purpose of the Church is according to God's Word, and what the role of a pastor is according to God's Word, I am convinced that Pastor's should predominately be expository. In John 17:17 Jesus prays, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” 2 Timothy 3:16 tell us that, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” What this Church needs in the unadulterated spirit filled Word. This living word is the catalyst to holiness.
Within the assembly of believers, how is the Word of God unleashed? It is through teaching. In Titus 1:9 we see the requirements of an Elder, “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” It is my primary role to give instruction in sound doctrine, and not just some doctrine, but all Biblical doctrine. Jesus tells us that man should live on “every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Paul prides himself in Acts 20:27 that he did not shrink back from teaching the “whole counsel of God.” Expository preaching best achieves these goals, and protects you somewhat from me cherry picking. Is there a place for those other types of sermons, sure, but in the marathon of sanctification, verse by verse through an entire book produces the most competent Christian.
So with that said, let us return our attention to John 14:1-14. I will read it. We will review and then we will focus our attention on one single verse.
John 14:1-14 – “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;a believe also in me. 2In 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?b3And 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. 4And you know the way to where I am going.” 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. 12“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.13Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. "
The Sorrowful Setting
Let us begin with some review. These verses take place in the Upper Room in Jerusalem during the feast of the Passover. This is the night of Jesus’ arrest that leads to his crucifixion. Therefore, this is the end of line as it relates to Jesus’ earthly ministry. He has spent approximately 33 years living a perfect life, and three years fulfilling a public ministry. In this room with Jesus are the 11 disciples. Previously, there were 12, but just a few moments ago Jesus dismissed Judas Iscariot to go and do what he was destined to do, to betray the Son of God for 30 pieces of silver. Right after this took place, Jesus tells the 11 that he is leaving them, and they can’t follow him. This realization is like a kick in the stomach. These 11 men have given up everything to follow Jesus. Jesus was their greatest treasure and they could not wrap their heads around not being with him. If that wasn’t enough Jesus then tells Peter that his mouth is bigger than his heart, and that before the rooster crows, Peter will deny Jesus not once, not twice, but three separate times. So to say that this was an heavy night would be an understatement.
And this is why we see Jesus’ words in verse 1 of our text, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.” He sees the anxiety in their eyes and he has compassion on them and he encourages them to trust the Sovereign Tri-Une God. Even though Jesus is the one who is about to bear the sins of the world upon his shoulders and have his flesh ripped open upon a cross, he is concerned about their troubled hearts. He tells them to trust in God, trust in Him, and trust in the plan. And what is the plan? The plan was that Jesus was gong to prepare a place for them in the Father's house. What does that mean? It means that unless Jesus prepares a place, there is no place. Sinners are not welcomed in the house of God. God is holy and demands that everyone that lives in his house must be holy. And Jesus knowing this, is going to leave them that night so he could fix the problem of the sin of the elect. For if the sin problem is not fixed, then they have no hope to ever get to Heaven.
So with that said, let us look at verse 4-6, which will be the focus of our attention today. Jesus says, “And you know the way to where I am going.” 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Lets just take a moment and praise God for Thomas. We all know him as doubting Thomas. He was a man similar to Peter, he was honest. He didn't try to pretend to be high and mighty. He didn't try to pretend he had it all figured out. He just blurts out that they are all totally confused, and they have no idea what he is talking about. And through that confusion we get one of the most powerful and provocative verses in all the Bible. Verse 6, “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” If you are a new Christian and you are looking for verses to memorize, put John 14:6 on your list.
This statement, “I Am the way” is the seventh “I Am” statement of the Gospel of John. Jesus has declared “I am the bread of life in John 6:35; “I am the light of the world” in John 8:12; “Before Abraham was, I am” in John 8:58; “I am the door” in John 10:9; “I am the good Shepherd” in John 10:10; and “I am in the resurrection and the life” in John 11:25; Why is this important? Because the statement “I Am” is a substantially loaded Jewish phrase. It finds its roots in Exodus 3, when Moses stands before a bush that is on fire, that is a theophany of God, a display of God, and Moses asks God what is his name. God replies in Exodus 3:14, “I Am who I Am...say this to the people of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.” So every time Jesus declares “I Am.” He is saying that He is not just a man, that he is God. And we will talk more about that next week as we unpack verses 8-14.
The One and Only Way
Today, we want to focus on the ideas that Jesus is the way, Jesus is the truth, Jesus is the life. So what does it mean that Jesus is the way. First we must recognize that a “way” is the space between two objects. The Greek word for way hodos, which means a road, and route, a course. So the way from the parking lot to the sanctuary is the foyer. In our text this morning, the two objects are not the parking lot and the sanctuary, but are the disciples and the Father's house. Those are the two objects that are separated. There is a distance between them. What is that distance? It is unmeasurable. Why? Because God is infinitely Holy and we are wretched sinners. Jesus then makes an astounding claim. He is the way. He is the space between us and God is Jesus. If we are here on this fallen earth and God is in the highest of Heaven, the route to Him is Christ. The way is not road, the way is not a ritual, the way is a person, specifically the second person of the Trinity, Jesus the Son of God.
One classic illustration of this is a bridge. In fact, there are a number of Churches named the Bridge. It is the idea that there are two places and between these two places is a vast chasm. We are on one side and God is on the other side. The only way across this chasm is Christ himself. He becomes the bridge to get us to God's county. Now notice that Jesus does not say that he is “a way.” Instead he says that he is “THE way.” This idea is reemphasized at the end of verse 6, “No one comes to the Father, except through me.” The pathway to God, is exclusive. There is only one Bridge, if you will, in the Universe, and Christ is claiming that he is it. This is in fact, the early name for Christians, the Way. They were known for their exclusive claim that Jesus was the only way to God.
I am going to warn you this morning. This idea, this teaching, this belief of the exclusivity of Christ is dangerous. People will will malign you, call you closed minded, a bigot, you may be fired, you may be imprisoned, you may be beaten, or even killed if you go around proclaiming this. The world hates the message of Jesus being the only way to God. Instead the spirit of this world proclaims a counterfeit way, a false way. One lie is that all roads lead to God; that it doesn't matter what you believe, only that you believe in something. I have heard many people say that it is like a mountain, there are many ways to the top.
In fact that summarizes all the worlds religions, climbing a mountain. Whether it is Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, or Catholicism everyone one of them is based on climbing your way to God. Working your way into his favor. Each one of these false religions emphasize the need to please God through some sort of sacrament. All the false religions of the world have one thing in common, they proclaim that the way to God is based upon works.
Christianity, on the other hand, is the one and only religion that says the opposite. The message of the Bible, the message of the Gospel of John, the message of Jesus is salvation by grace. You can see it clearly in our text today. Jesus tells them to believe in HIM. Jesus says that HE will prepare the place. Jesus says that HE will take the disciples to the Father. Jesus says that HE is the way. The bottom line is if you want to go to heaven, you have to have faith in Jesus Christ. This is the entire message of the Bible. If someone does not believe in the sufficiency of Jesus' death on the cross to save them, then they will end up in Hell. No one gets to the Father, except through Jesus.
Why is Jesus the Way?
Why is this? Why is Jesus the only way to God? Why don't all paths lead to God? The easiest answer to that questions is because it is the way God designed it. WE have to remember, God is the Creator of the Universe. This is his story, not ours. He is the Builder of this house. He has the right to determine everything, including how to come into his presence. If he wants only one door, then one door it is. And if he wants that door to be his Son, then who are we to question Him?
In just a few hours Jesus will be in the Garden of Gethsemane praying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Jesus is asking, is there another way? The answer to this question is no, there is no other way. The way that had been decreed by by God has always been the death of Christ.
This plan of salvation through Jesus had been agreed upon before the foundation of the world was laid. Ephesians 1:4 tells us this, “he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7In him we have redemption through his blood” This agreement between the Father and the Son before the foundation of the World is called the Covenant of Redemption. It is an agreement within the Trinity to save a people through the incarnation and death and resurrection of Jesus. Needless to say, an agreement within the Trinity is an iron clad contract.
But there is another reason that Jesus is the only way. And it has to do with the distance between God and us that I briefly mentioned earlier. We do not fully understand, nor will we ever understand the infinite Glory of God. Psalm 147:5 says, “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.” Revelation 19:6 calls him “Almighty.” Psalm 104:1 tells us that God is, “clothed with splendor and majesty.” Romans 11:33 says, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” This splendor of God leads the Seraphim in Isaiah 6:3 to cry out “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts.”
We on the other hand are wretched sinners. Romans 3:10 describes all of mankind this way, “None is righteous, no, not one; 11no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12All have turned aside; together they have become worthless.” God has infinite worth and we are worthless due to our sin.
This leads us to the question posed in Psalm 24:3, “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?” They answer to that question is no one. The reality is that the mountain of God is higher than any many can climb. The distance between a Holy God and sinful man is immeasurable. I don't care how good of climber you think you are, you can't climb to high enough to reach the throne of God. The only way that we can get there is by God himself. He must come down the Mountain and take us to the Courts of God. As the Psalmist in Psalm 3:8 says, “Salvation belongs to the Lord.”
Jesus is the Truth
And this is why Jesus is not just the way, but he is also the truth. He is the embodiment of this reality. I liked the way John Gill in his commentary summarized it. He said, “he is the true God, and eternal life; truly and really man; as a prophet he taught the way of God in truth; as a priest, he is a faithful, as well as a merciful one, true and faithful to him that appointed him; and as a King, just and true are all his ways and administrations: he is the sum and substance of all the truths of the Gospel; they are all full of him, and centre in him; and he is the truth of all the types and shadows, promises and prophecies of the Old Testament; they have all their accomplishment in him; and he is the true way, in opposition to all false ones of man's devising.” The truth is that if you do not believe in Jesus Christ, your entire life is one big lie. He is the key that unlocks all of life's secrets. As we have already studied, he is the light of the World. Without faith in him, you would have been better off not existing. Jesus is everything.
Jesus is the Life
And when we come to this realization, and we lay down all that we have, because we recognize that Jesus is everything, what do we receive in return. Life. The key to eternal life is Christ. Without Jesus, we are dead, spiritually and eventually physically. He is the one and only cure for the death problems that overshadows every soul that has ever existed. And why is this important? Because as it says in Mark 12:27, “He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” The house of God is not a morgue, it is a place of feasting, singing, rejoicing, and praising. Dead people do not do any of those things. If we want to join the party that lasts forever, the only way this will happen is by believing in Jesus Christ.
In this way, John has been a broken record. Since the beginning of this gospel he has been telling us that life is only found in Jesus. John 1:4, “In him was life” John 3:15, “whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the son has eternal life.” John 4:14, “The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 5:21, “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.” John 6:27, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.” John 6:33, “For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” John 6:47, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.” John 8:12, “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 1:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 11:25, “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,”
The bottom line is that Jesus is the answer to everything, the question is do you believe Him?