Summary: A meesage from John 14 in a series on the "I am" discourses of Jesus from the book of John.
The Great I Am – The Way, Truth, and Life
June 27, 2004
Intro: For 7 years, Mt. Bethel Methodist in Atlanta had hosted the community’s baccalaureate service. One year, organizers wanted to include speakers from the Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, and Wicca religions. Many students expressed a desire to have the name of Jesus censored from the service b/c it would be offensive. The pastor said it would be a dishonor not to mention Jesus’ name in His own church, thus the service should be moved to a neutral location if they wanted to include other religions. Of course, the newspapers and media outlets picked up the story and focused on the narrow-mindedness of the pastor. Here is the pastor’s response: “My single purpose as an ordained minister is to preach Christ. Political correctness is not a deity here. In the past few weeks, I’ve been asked to pray in this church and not use the name of Jesus. I’ve been asked to cover the crosses in the church b/c they might be offensive to non-believers. I’ve said ‘no’ to each one of these requests. It’s absolutely amazing to me how people who push tolerance will push anything except tolerance of Christian faith even when it is expressed w/in its own church.”
Trans: Some of you might not think the question we are addressing this morning is all that difficult to answer. Since we live in America, many people value cultural diversity and religious pluralism. Pluralism is the view that all religions offer equally valid paths to God. Another words, as long as you believe in something you’ll be okay.
Note: While Christianity still dominates, the U.S. has a greater diversity of religious groups than any country in history. The Encyclopedia of American Religions lists 1,600 different groups, w/ 44% of them non-Christian. Half of these have blossomed since 1960. In fact, there are more Muslims in the U.S. than Methodists.
Trans: In spite of all this doctrinal diversity, the Bible makes some rather startling claims that run counter-cultural to the mantra of religious tolerance.
• Acts 4:12: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
• 1 Timothy 2:5-6: “For there is one God and one mediator b/w God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all men.”
• 1 John 5:12: “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
Note: These verses are extremely exclusive and clear: Jesus is the only way to heaven. Yet the strongest verse in the Bible is a sentence uttered by Jesus, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Trans: Before we focus on John 14:6, we must first take the time to focus on context of this great question. For while Jesus makes an incredibly audacious and exclusive claim His purpose was not of apologetics but rather a theology.
Text: Read John 13:31-14:6 (This is all part of the Upper Room Discourse)
Note: Jesus had just finished serving the Last Supper He washed the disciple’s feet and made a bold declaration of His coming death that would provide a complete atonement for the sin of men. Then after exposing Judas and Peter, He and disciples left the upper room and made their way towards the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus would be betrayed and handed over to the chief priest.
Trans: It’s on this journey that Jesus offers four final but vital lessons: A renewed commandment, a brand new way, a final encouragement and a definitive claim. It is my intention this AM to touch on the first three and campout on the fourth.
I A Renewed Commandment
Verse: 31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. 32 If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him at once. 33 “Children, I am with you a little while longer. You will look for Me, and just as I told the Jews, ‘Where I am going you cannot come,’ so now I tell you. 34 “I give you a new commandment: that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you should also love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:31-35
Note: “New” command – that’s fairly accurate. Technically though, it’s an old command revisited. Lev. 19:18 says, “Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself.”