Summary: In truly celebrating the birth of Christ, we celebrate His uniqueness as: 1) The Way (John 14:1–6), 2) The Truth (John 14:4–11), 3) The Life (John 14:12-14).
This morning, Christians around the world gather to celebrate Jesus’ birth. But how did December 25 come to be associated with Jesus’ birthday. Celebrations of Jesus’ Nativity are not mentioned in the Gospels or Acts, the date is not given, nor even the time of year. There is no mention of birth celebrations in the writings of early Christians writers. About 200 AD, Clement of Alexandria, notes several different days that had been proposed by various Christian groups. It’s not until the fourth century, that we see references to December 25th in the west, and January 8th in the East that were widely recognized. Regardless of the Date, among Christians, Jesus alone is recognized as the way, the truth and the life.
Jesus alone is the way to God (10:7–9; Acts 4:12) because He alone is the truth (John 1:14, 17; 18:37; Rev. 3:7; 19:11) about God and He alone possesses the life of God (John 1:4; 5:26; 11:25; 1 John 1:1; 5:20). The purpose of this gospel is to make those things known, so they are repeated throughout the book so as to lead people to faith and salvation (20:31). To know the truth and to have life beyond the grave are the great aspirations of humankind. As John tells us, only in Jesus can these deepest of all human longings be fulfilled. For he in his very essence is truth and life; Jesus is the one and only way of salvation (Ko¨stenberger, A. J. (2004). John. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (429–430). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.).
In truly celebrating the birth of Christ, we celebrate His uniqueness as:
1) The Way (John 14:1-6)
When Jesus told His disciples: Let/Do not let your heart be troubled, they were already troubled, and He was telling them to stop. In keeping with Semitic anthropology, “heart” denotes the seat of a person’s will and emotions (Ko¨stenberger, A. J. (2004). John. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (425). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.)
Troubled translates a form of the verb tarasso (“to shake,” or “to stir up”). It is used to describe the literal stirring up of the pool of Bethesda (5:7) and, figuratively, of severe mental or spiritual agitation (Matt. 2:3; 14:26; Luke 1:12; 24:38; John 11:33; 13:21; Acts 15:24). As always, Jesus knew the disciples’ hearts; He understood their confusion and concerns. Ever the compassionate Savior, He sympathized with their sorrow and grief (Isa. 53:3–4; Heb. 4:15). Even though the disciples were oblivious to His pain, He felt theirs and sought to comfort them.
Jesus was telling his followers that it was their responsibility to act in faith to overcome their troubled hearts. They were not doomed to distress and discouragement. He addresses them as believers. Just as the disciples believe in God, they are to believe also in Him. Christ affirmed His deity, placing Himself on a par with the Father as an appropriate object of faith. In calling them to hope in God, Jesus was calling His disciples to put their hope in Him (Keddie, G. J. (2001). A Study Commentary on John, Volume 2: John 13–21. EP Study Commentary (65). Darlington, England; Auburn, MA: Evangelical Press.).
Another offering to comfort the disciples was the revelation that their separation from Him would not be permanent. Jesus’ words, If it were not so, I would have told you, assured the disciples that He was telling them the truth. He was going away in part to prepare a place for them where they would be reunited with Him in His heavenly glory (John 17:24). He is saying that: Without my death there would be no place for you; without my ascension and the sending forth of the Spirit, you would not be made ready for the place.”( Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953-2001). Vol. 2: Exposition of the Gospel According to John. New Testament Commentary (265). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.)
Arriving on the scene after his departure is not the point when Jesus “begins to prepare the place,” but “it is the going itself, via the cross and resurrection” that is the act of preparation. The Gospel of John is not trying to portray Jesus as being in the construction business of building or renovating rooms. Rather, Jesus was in the business of leading people to God (Borchert, G. L. (2002). Vol. 25B: John 12–21. The New American Commentary (105). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.).
The Father’s house is another name for heaven, which is variously described as a country (Heb. 11:16), due to its vastness; a city (Heb. 12:22), emphasizing its large number of inhabitants; a kingdom (2 Tim. 4:18), because God is its King (Dan. 4:37; cf. Matt. 11:25; Acts 17:24); paradise (Luke 23:43; 2 Cor. 12:4; Rev. 2:7), because of its indescribable beauty; and a place of rest (cf. Heb. 4:1–11), where the redeemed are free from the wearying conflict with sin, Satan, and the evil world system that hates those who love Christ (John 15:19; 17:14).