“One Way Only”
We see them everywhere we go. Road signs. They’re designed to assist us when we are traveling. They usually help but only if we pay attention to them. Kids have been known to get carried away and sometimes move them to another location. So a road that is a one-way road; sign could be moved to the other side of the road causing traffic to suddenly travel in the wrong direction.
20 years ago in Tampa young man named Kevin Farr was driving his car and breezed right through an intersection and into the path of an eight ton truck... He and two passengers were killed. Sometime before that night as a prank, three teenagers had removed the stop sign from that intersection.
For many years now there has been a great deal of controversy over the Scripture I have read this morning. The setting is this. Jesus is preparing his disciples for the end of his earthly ministry. They had just enjoyed a meal together. Jesus got up from the meal and wrapped a towel around his waist. He then poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciple’s feet. He then dried them with the towel that was wrapped around him. Jesus then predicts that Judas will betray him and then predicts that Peter will deny him. And what all of this tells us is that Jesus was attempting to relate to the disciples the fact that His death was coming soon; the cross was not far away. He begins with some words of comfort.
These words were offered by Jesus for the purpose of comforting the disciples. They had just spent three years with him learning from him, watching him as he healed the sick, raise the dead, fed the hungry and calmed the sea. Their lives had been changed completely. And now he was telling them he was about to leave. The strange thing is every time he told him and as many times as he told them, they never understood.
How does that happen? Have you ever had someone give you some news it was so overwhelming that you just couldn’t believe it? Perhaps you received news of the death of a loved one the first words out of your mouth were something like...
• You must be kidding
• that can’t be true... I just saw them yesterday.
There are five stages of grief we go through and the first stage is denial. We simply cannot accept what we have been told and our mind chooses not to believe it. This was likely the case with the disciples. They were troubled so Jesus said do not let your hearts be troubled. Just trust. He says in my father’s house are many rooms-your Bible may say mansions-the correct translation is actually rooms. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t look like a mansion-but it says rooms. He is saying there’s plenty of room for you and if it wasn’t the truth, I wouldn’t have told you. I’m not making this up... This is the way it is. And since I’m going to prepare this place for you is another thing you need to know -I’m going to come back and get you.
This is the event the Scripture refers to as the rapture. The word in Greek is harpazo; is an old verb meaning to seize. To snatch up. Christ is going to snatch us up-don’t be caught wearing a collarless shirt that day-you don’t want to miss this! This is when Jesus takes us to the home he has been building for us to live with him forever.
Then it’s like Jesus says oh by the way, you know the way to this place already. Now you can imagine perhaps what they were thinking.
• We’ve never been there
• we’ve never seen it
• we don’t even know anyone who has ever seen it
And so Thomas, known as the doubters says Lord we don’t know where you’re going so how you expect us to know how to get there?
Billy Graham tells the story of the time when he was speaking in the city out West. We arrived in town he wanted to mail a letter so he left his hotel to go to the post office. He saw a young boy standing on the corner so he ask him for directions to the post office. The boy gave explicit directions. Dr. Graham thanked him and said Sunday you know who I am? And the voice it actually know... I don’t. He said well, my name is Billy Graham and I’m here to speak at one of the churches downtown. Then he said to the boy if you will come tonight I will tell you how to get to heaven. The boy said no thank you... How can you tell me how to get to heaven when you don’t even know how to get to the post office?
If you want to know how to get to a particular place, the best person to ask is someone who lives there. Jesus knows every street in heaven... He built them... Prepared every home there. He created it. He knows the place inside out. So he is very qualified to give directions.
So to Thomas’ question of how can we know the way? Jesus replies, I am the way-I am the truth and I am the life. Then he makes what must’ve been a startling statement to the people of that day and even more surprising to people 2000 years later that Jesus would have the audacity to say I am the way and no one gets there in less he goes through me. Saying that Jesus is the only way seems narrow minded... But it’s just the truth. You see Jesus is preparing his disciples for the end. They had shared a final meal together. He washed their feet. They broke bread together. And then Jesus said don’t be troubled. I’m going to prepare a place for you and then I’m going to come back and get you. Both Philip and Thomas are skeptical. They have questions. They want answers. Why? Because they knew their very life depended on it. Here was his answer. I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.
We live in a world of many cultures. But not just around the world….. right here in America. And even right here in this church. Our world, our country is filled with so many different religions and the one thing all religions share in common is this-they all believe their way is the only way.
There are also many who will say all religions today are valid. They say all paths lead to heaven. No matter what road you walk you will get there. But I’ve noticed something about these individuals. They’re not committed to anything. Or anybody.
I have wondered lately what Jesus would say to a Muslim. But reading this passage I can tell you. He was say the same thing to a Muslim as he would say to a Baptist, a Catholic, a Buddhist or to an unbelieving Jew. Here it here is what he did say. I am the way to heaven. Jesus did not say
• I will show you the way to heaven
• find your own way to heaven
• just trust your heart
• look inside yourself for the answer
• the way is whatever you want it to be.
Jesus said I am the way he also said I am the truth. The truth is a tricky thing. We all think we have it. We all think our opinion is the one that’s right. But were talking about something here that is bigger than that... Something that matters more. Let me explain it this way...
• Someone says I like to buy my groceries and save a lot. You ask them why. “I like to save a lot.”
• Someone else says I like to buy my groceries at Winn-Dixie. So you ask them why. They say because they’re my neighborhood grocery store
• someone else says I like to buy my groceries at Publix. You ask them why. They say because shopping is a pleasure.
But at the end of the day it just doesn’t really matter. After all it your opinion as just groceries.
But now were talking about salvation. Now were talking about heaven... The place where we are going to spend all of eternity. And we better make sure we have made the right choice. You see the one thing we share in common with those of another faith is the fact that we all believe that our way is the only way. You know what that tells me? There’s no possible way we can all be right. I’m betting on Jesus. Are you?
For some reason when it comes to trusting the Lord we are a bit like the man who fell over a cliff and caught himself on a branch about halfway down. He looked up, he looked down but he could see no one. He looked up again. Still no one. So at the top of his voice he yelled, is anyone there? And got no answer. So yelled again, is anyone there? Still no answer. So he yelled a third time even louder and he heard a voice say, I am here and he looked up and said who are you? The voice said I’m the Lord. The man said, oh Lord, help me.
So the Lord said, do you trust me? The man said yes Lord, I trust you. Then the Lord said, okay let go of the branch. The man looked down and saw drop of several hundred feet look back up and he said is anyone else up there? Where a lot like that when the entire time God is saying don’t be troubled believe in me just trust me. Looking around and everything else focus on me. Trust me. Will you trust Him today?