Summary: In a troubled and uncertain world, how can Jesus being "the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE" make a dffierence for us?
OPEN: Back in 1950s & 60s, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra played for NY Yankees and became close friends. One day, Yogi Berra invited Mickey Mantle to his apartment, but Mantle… got lost. He stopped at a pay phone and called Yogi and said, “I'm trying to find your apartment, where is it?” Yogi said, “Where are you now?” Mantle replied, “I'm at the corner of 5th and Main.” Yogi said, “Well, you just keep coming in this direction” and then… he HUNG UP.
(PAUSE) Now, how helpful were those directions? Well, not very! But why not ? Why weren’t they helpful? Well - because Mickey Mantle still didn’t KNOW THE WAY. And until he knew the way he was still going to be lost.
What I find interesting about this story in John, is that I think Jesus set this conversation up. I think he primed the pump so that Thomas would ask Him: “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” (John 14:5) Because THAT’S the question… that Jesus wanted to answer: “How, can we know the way?” Until you know the answer to that question… you’re always going to be lost.
James Thurber once said: “All men should strive to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.” That cute little poem had a powerful point. Until you know WHY you’re here and WHERE you’re going… you’ll always be lost. And so Jesus frames conversation so Thomas will ask “How can we know the way?”
Now the conversation actually began much earlier when Jesus said these words: “Let not your hearts be troubled...” John 14:1
ILLUS: Have you ever been on a trip, and gotten lost? When you were lost… did you get troubled? When Larry and I were down in Tennessee last month for a church conference, we wanted to go visit Caleb (the son of one of our members) at Johnson University near Knoxville, TN. We got the address and put it into our GPS, and GPS took us to parts of Tennessee I don’t think I’ll ever see again. At one point we finally got on a fairly straight 2 laner, and after a few miles our GPS said we should turn onto Spring Church Road. So we did. But Spring Church Road twisted and turned every which way and we saw parts of Tennessee I didn’t know existed. We finally came out on another fairly straight 2 laner and were moving right along (pause) when I saw a sign for the SAME business I’d seen about 15 minutes before we’d turned onto Spring Church Road. It seems - somewhere along that curvy mountainous road we lost our signal and came right back out where we started from.
I was lost. I was uncertain. And I was… TROUBLED! I had no idea how to get to Johnson University, and I just wanted to go back to hotel and forget all about seeing Caleb, because I didn’t want to through this torture anymore. I was tired of it.
And that is how many people look at their lives. They feel lost, they feel uncertain, and… they are TROUBLED.
It’s the uncertainty of life that drives us nuts. For example, take our present crisis over this virus.
ILLUS: I recently read this article that said this: “As the present PANDEMIC continues to spread, more countries and states order lockdowns, and the prospective slope of financial recovery steepens by the day. Many are facing tremendous uncertainty. Questions swirl in our heads. What if I -- or someone I love -- gets the virus? Am I still going to have a job tomorrow? Will I EVER be able to retire now? What if I lose the house? Will life ever be the same? Everything in our lives can be stripped away in a moment… by disease, economic collapse, and most inevitably by death. But I want to remind you that money and health never were a sure thing” (https://disrn.com/opinion/opinion-the-only-reliable-comfort-in-the-face-of-uncertainty)
And that’s what Jesus said. He said nothing on this earth is a sure thing. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
Let me repeat: NOTHING on this earth is a sure thing… and that’s what drives us nuts! If we just knew which WAY to go; if we just knew … what TRUTH to trust; if we just could be assured that LIFE would turn out alright - then, maybe, we might be able to hold on.