Summary: Is Jesus THE Way or A Way to God?
1 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.
2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
4 You know the way to the place where I am going."
5 Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"
6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (NIV)
I. FINDING THE WAY
In South Carolina, there is a tradition that when there is a funeral – after the church service everyone goes to the cemetery for a graveside service. I know there’s nothing radically strange about that. We often do the same thing here. But here, and in other communities I’ve lived, when all the cars line up to leave the church to go to the cemetery, the one who drives in the front of the line is the funeral director and the hearse.
But in South Carolina, tradition demands that the minister leads everyone.
I hated that tradition.
While I was a pastor of a church in South Carolina, I probably did 20 or 30 funerals. Every single one involved a different cemetery. I never knew where I was going, so how could I know the way?
I broke with tradition and always demanded that the hearse lead the way.
It seemed like a smart idea, especially after what I heard happened to the poor minister at the First Baptist Church.
He was doing his first funeral and everything had gone fine. At the end of the church service, all of the people got into their cars, and since he was the type of person who always followed tradition, he led the way to the cemetery.
He slowly pulled out of the parking lot, and was followed by the hearse and some 40 or 50 cars.
He slowly drove down the road. Made a left turn on Elm Street. Then a right turn on highway 25. Then slowly moved along.
He was driving slowly because that’s what you do in a funeral procession. All the cars drive slowly.
But the problem with driving slowly, is that you mind tends to wander.
The Baptist minister began to think about the graveside service.
Then he thought about what he was going to do afterward.
He remembered his grass needed cutting.
He thought about whohe hated cutting grass.
You get all dirty and sweaty and thirsty.
It would be nice to have a nice cold Coca Cola.
As he slowly drove by a McDonalds, he realized how thirsty he was just thinking of cutting the grass.
So he pulled into the drive-thru at that McDonalds.
Followed of course by a hearse and some 40 or 50 cars full of baffled and confused mourners.
Yep. It’s best to let someone who knows where they are going lead the way.
Not everyone is good about leading the way. Not everyone can find the way from point A to point B. I worked with someone once who never could find his way around town. We’d have a staff lunch and agree to meet at Chili’s Restaurant, and he would end up at the Outback Restaurant. It got bad. Finally when we were going out for our annual Christmas party, I had to assign another staff person to drive this person to the restaurant.
In our New Testament lesson, Jesus is telling his disciples how to get from point A to point B – how to get from this life to eternal life. How to get from the kingdom of this world, to the kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus is meeting with his disciples for one last time before his arrest and crucifixion. There is a long conversation in John’s Gospel, and at one point, Jesus tells his disciples not to be worried or upset.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled,” Jesus told them. “Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."
In other words, Jesus knows how to get from Point A – this life – to Point B – eternal life. And Jesus also says that WE know that way.