I am the Way, the Truth, the Life
A little boy was lost inside a busy shopping mall. He was standing in the aisle of a department store just crying and crying, "I want my mommy.. I want my mommy." People who passed by felt sorry for him and many of them gave him nickels and dimes and quarters to try to cheer him up. Finally a salesperson from the floor walked up to the distraught little boy and said, "I know where your mommy is, son." The little boy looked up with his tear trenched eyes and said, "So do I....just keep quiet, I got a good thing going here!"
You know, the feeling of being lost is a terrible feeling, frightening feeling. For many years I did orienteering in the army – and I was pretty good at it – Regimental champion! Even got some qualifications – grade 3 planner and controller. But there were times, as good as I was, when was running through the forest, or up some hill, and I would see something or come to something that shouldn’t be there and I realise that I wasn’t where I thought I was on the map. And if I wasn’t were I thought I was – where was I. Miles from anywhere, no-one else in sight – lost. And I can tell you, the feeling in the pit of your stomach is horrible. In the middle of no-where, with no-one around for miles, you’ve got a map but you haven’t got a clue where you are on it. And you start to feel a sense of dread, of hopelessness, of fear and panic. It’s an awful, terrible place to be.
And sometimes you can be lost and not even know that you are lost – and without realising – you just carry on and on and get further and further and deeper into your lostness. Have you ever been going somewhere in the car and as far as you’re concerned you know exactly where you are, you know exactly where you’re going, and you know exactly how long it’s going to take – but then something happens – a road sign, a town or whatever, and suddenly you realise you’re not actually where you thought you were at all. Maybe you’re not even heading in the direction you thought you were. And millions of people live their lives just like that – lost, not in a geographical sense – but in a spiritual sense. But they just don’t know, they just don’t realise that they’re lost.
And often you will see this profound sense of lostness emerge in people who we would consider to have it all together. In the height of his career Mike Tyson seemed to have everything, fame popularity, world wide respect and he was worth $300 million – he completely dominated the boxing world. But in 2003 he was declared bankrupt. His money was gone, and after his 3 year jail sentence for rape – so was his popularity and respect.
In an interview after his defeat against Kevin McBride in 2005, Tyson said, ‘who am I? What am I? I don’t even know. I’m just a dumb child whose been abused and robbed by lawyers, I’m Just a fool who thinks he’s someone." Sounds like Tyson eventually took notice of the sign posts and realised just how lost he was.
Robbie Williams - I don’t think anyone can ever be fully happy. If you’re fully happy then you’re a miserable person because the grass is always greener on the other side-it has to be. I’m not saying I’m miserable-in fact I’m the happiest I’ve been for a long time, but I’m no happier than I was when I was at school. Then again, I’m more miserable than when I was at school.” Some of the best times in my life happened under the influence of drugs... I’d still be doing it if I could make good judgement calls. I’d still be doing it if I didn’t blow up to the size of an aircraft hangar, because it was a great time. – Sounds to me like someone who is lost.
Where are we going?
Many people are lost. Many people are confused. Many people are unhappy. They are ‘Like sheep, without a shepherd’. Even Jesus’ disciples, on the night when He was betrayed, were feeling lost and confused and Jesus had to say to them ‘Don’t let your hearts be troubled’. You see in just the previous Chapter Jesus had told them some pretty earth shattering things. These men had been with him for 3 amazing years. They’d seen people healed, they’d seen demons cast out, they’d seen the dead raised to life. They’d seen thousands of people miraculously fed, they’d seen the wind and the waves obey a human voice, they’d seen God walking and talking here on earth. Surely all of this was but the beginning of even greater things.
But now Jesus tells them that they’re not where they thought they were on the map. He tells them that he is about to be arrested, taken away, and killed. And these men that have followed him and have trusted in him, have believed in him, begin to wonder what it is they are going to do.
They didn’t understand what he was telling them. The more He talked of going away to a place where they would follow, the more frustrated they became. Where is it He was going - was it Galilee? Samaria? Was he going to hide from the Jewish Leaders in the desert, or maybe in Egypt? And finally, in desperation, Thomas shouted out. “Lord, you’re talking in riddles, you’re talking in rhymes - we don’t know where you are going so how can we know the way?”
Lord I thought things were under control, Lord I thought I knew where we were heading, but now I am confused, now I am lost’. How often have you cried out something like that? You think you know we’re your going, you think you know the route, but then something comes along in life, something unseen, something unplanned, and knocks you completely off course. ‘Lord I thought I had everything planned out, I thought my future was certain, I thought my future was clear, but now I’ve lost my job, now I’ve lost my family, now I’ve lost my health, now I’ve lost my direction. I don’t know where I am, I don’t know where I’m going, I don’t know the way’. And just like those disciples we can feel lost, confused and disheartened.
“Lord, we don’t know where you are going so how can we know the way?” But look at Jesus’ response. He says ‘I am the way’. He didn’t just claim to know the way, He claimed to BE the way.
In 2001 following the attacks on September 11th, New York Mayor, Rudy Guilliani spoke before the United Nations. And in his speech he mentioned that on a typical weekend he will visit an Islamic mosque on Friday and a Christian Church on Sunday. Then he said that both groups worship the same God, but in different ways.
Is he right? Do we worship the same God in different ways? Is Jesus a way? One way out of many? Or is Jesus the only way?
I am the way
Thomas said, ‘Lord how can we know the way’ – Jesus replied ‘I am the way’.
A couple of months ago I went to a funeral in Carlisle and I got out my map and started to plan my route. There were several options. Across to the M11 – up the A1 to Newcastle – Across on the A66 – or M11, M1, M62, M61, M6 – or M11, M1, M6 (through Birmingham) – Each route would take me a different, were different distances, different lengths of time – but each one would have got me to my destination – Carlisle!
I think I have said before that we have some friends who, from time to time come down to visit us from Bristol. Now for me, if I was travelling from Bristol to here – the route would be pretty straight forward. M4, M25 A12 – about 3 ½ hours. Our friends, however, aren’t the greatest fans of the M25 so they decided to go via Birmingham – M5, M42, M6, A14 – took them (on a Friday evening) about 7 ½ hours. That’s ok, different route, different time frame, different scenery along the way – but the same destination eventually!
Now that might be true for a trip down the road, but the same is not true when it comes to our spiritual journey. When it comes to heaven there is only one road we can take. Every other road is a dead end!
Yet more and more people – even many who would consider themselves Christians – believe that there are many roads that lead to God. But there’s not. Today people believe that as long as you are sincere in what you believe and do your best to be a good moral person God will accept you in the end. But he won’t.
People say that there are many faiths and many religions all of which have equal value before God. Here in the West we live in a very pluralistic society – that just means that there are a lot of different faiths around and about us. And it’s becoming more and more common to hear people talking about their ‘pick and mix’ faith. I like this about Christianity, and I like this about Islam, and I like this about Hinduism, so I’ll take a bit of this, and a bit of that and I’ll make up my own faith.
Lets face it – religiously we are living in confusing times and it’s easy to get a bit lost. But Jesus said ‘I am the way’.
Other people have chosen the occult path. They have moved away from mainstream religion all together. And today, the occult is endemic within our society. The police are using psychics to solve crimes. Universities are employing white witches as their chaplains. The tv is full of it with shows like Angel; Charmed and Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. Sky has whole channels dedicated to psyhics and mediums. On the big screen, movies like Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings have repeatedly broken box office records. Every morning the first thing that millions of people will do is to turn to their horoscope to see what the stars say the day has in store for them.
‘The Pagan Federation is claiming it deals with an average of 100 enquiries per month from youngsters who want to become witches, and claims it has occasionally been ’swamped’ with calls.’
People are getting sucked in to the world of the occult to try and find their direction in life – but Jesus said ‘I am the way’.
Other people have chosen the humanist path - You’ve probably all heard about the current London Bus ad – ‘There’s probably no God, so stop worrying and enjoy life. The atheistic world says I’ll do it my way! There is no God, there is no meaning to life, your just a bunch of Chemicals that have accidentally formed together. The atheistic voice says ‘I’ll do it my way’ – but Jesus says ‘I am the way’.
There’s only one way
Don’t look for another path. It’s illogical to think that God would go over to one side of the world and tell people, “Here’s the way to be reconciled with me,” and then go over to another place and say, “No, here’s a completely contradictory way to please me,” God isn’t schizophrenic! It would make sense that He would provide a path for us to follow in finding Him. And he did – Jesus Christ!
All other roads will take you in the wrong direction; there is only ONE WAY. Jesus said in Mt. 7:14: "Narrow is the Way that leads to Life and few are those who find it." It is narrow because it is the way of God, according to God’s Word, not according to the dreams and theories, and the philosophies of men.
And can I just say that you can trust Jesus who is the Way not only to eternal life but who is also the WAY OUT of your despair. It is not just a belief for the future but for the here and now as well. There are people who are desperate to know a way out of their problems and confusion and that is why they are trying drugs, alcohol, various religions--all in an attempt to find a solution. But Jesus is The Way – yes to eternal life, but he is also the way out of your desperation, he is the way out of your bondage, he is the way out of your addiction, he is the way out of your hopeleness, he is the way to a new, forgiven and restored in life in God today.
I am the truth
Jesus said ‘I am the truth’.
When he was stood before Pilate, Jesus said to him ‘I have come to testify to the truth’. Pilate asked him ‘what is truth’? That is the same question being asked today. In the world that we live there they say that there is no such thing as ultimate truth. What might be true to you might not be true to someone else. The band The manic street preachers recently brought out an album called: This is my truth – you tell me yours.
But Jesus says ‘I am the truth and I have come to testify to the truth’. Winston Churchill once said, "truth is absolute - Panic may resent it; ignorance may deride it; malice may distort it; but there it is."
Pilate said ‘What is truth?’ – Jesus said ‘I am the truth’. And you know people may misunderstand the truth of the Christian gospel, some people resent it, some people deride it! Some people distort it, but the truth is absolute.
And sometimes the truth hurts. If someone ever comes up alongside you and says to you ‘brother, sister, I want to tell you the truth – in love’. You know that there’s about to be some pain coming your way.
If you went to the doctor and he diagnosed you with cancer but decided not to tell you in case it hurt your feelings – that’s no good for anyone. And Jesus tells the truth about our human condition, because He is the great physician. And his truth reveals our sinful natures. His truth reveals the wrong things in our lives, his truth reveals just how far we have fallen away.
The truth does not waiver or change; it remains the same. And because Jesus is the truth we have a light for the journey. Psalm 43:3 ‘Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell’. As long as you hold to the truth you don’t have to fear going the wrong way. The WAY is illuminated by the TRUTH.
Pilate says ‘what is truth’ Jesus says ‘I am the truth’.
I am the life
And Jesus said ‘I am the life’.
Romans 3:23 says ‘All have sinned and come short of the glory of God’, and Romans 6:23 says ‘that the wages of sin is death’ but, praise God, it goes on to say ‘But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord’. Jesus told the sorrowing sisters: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, even though he dies, he will live. And he who lives and believes in Me, shall never die." Jn. 11:25-26. and then He asks: "Do you believe this?"
Do you believe that for your own life this morning?
Through him we have eternal life – but eternal life isn’t something far off in the future, it’s here now, it begins today. Jesus said I have come that you might have life and have it in abundance – So many people think that Christianity is about rules and regulations. They think it’s about being imprisoned by a life of do’s and don’ts – but Jesus said, no – I have come to set you free, I have come to give you a better life, a more fulfilling life, a more content life, a more abundant life, here, now, today! Free from guilt, free from shame, free from sin, free from anxiety, free from fear, free from dread, free from depression, free from your misery, because I am the life!
The WAY is illuminated by the TRUTH and energised by the LIFE!
‘Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’.
An elderly man was out walking with his young grandson. "How far are we from Home?" he asked the boy. The boy answered, "Grandpa, I don’t know." The grandfather asked, "Well, where are you?" Again the boy answered, "I don’t know." Then the grandfather said good-naturedly, "Sounds to me as if you are lost." The young boy looked up at his grandfather and said, "No, I can’t be lost. I’m with you.’
I pray that that might also be true for you as you go through this life with the one who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.