Summary: All roads do not lead to God.
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. 7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”
Most of us have heard the historical declaration that, “…‘all roads lead to Rome’, and in fact, they once did. The road system of the Ancient Romans was one of the greatest engineering accomplishments of its time, with over 50,000 miles of paved road radiating from their center at the miliarius aurem (a large golden column) in the Forum in the city of Rome.” ThinkQuest.org
The roads were originally built to facilitate troop movements, but of course they would also be used by people traveling to and from the most important city of its time. Rome was the place to go for commerce, for involvement in politics, even for holiday. So it was the center. Rome was the place that was moving and shaking, and it was the hub, so all the spokes led there.
Now, we don’t have to be historians in order to think about the history of mankind and realize that from the beginning mankind has been drawn to mankind. Hermits are considered out of the ordinary for a reason.
From the scattering at the Tower of Babel to the emergence of the internet, mankind has, as a whole, been engaged in a crazed scramble to undo that scattering; to come together by his own strength and machinations, but not in order to seek God, but to be god.
Paul declared to the Athenian philosophers that God created all mankind from one and appointed their times and the boundaries of their habitations so that they might seek Him. Instead, man has struggled to connect apart from the God they should have been seeking, attempting to make ‘all roads’ lead to whatever present focus of lust, pride and fleshly fulfillment has been placed before them.
Also through the course of history, man has demonstrated a proclivity for focusing on a person, a champion, searching for a savior; someone clever enough and powerful enough and charismatic enough to unite mankind and pull us up out of the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. It started with Nimrod and it will end with the Antichrist, and in between have been men who in one form or another either greatly helped or greatly hurt before they had their fall, but none of them has had the power, nor in most cases the desire, to usher men into the presence of God.
Let’s go to the Upper Room and hear from the one Man who both desires and can do that.
Jesus and His chosen ones have just finished the Passover meal, where He has explained that the unleavened bread typifies His body which would be broken and that the cup symbolized the blood He would shed to establish the new covenant.
Judas had gone out. The eleven did not yet understand where he was going but Jesus knew and in fact, sent him out with the words, ‘What you do, do quickly’. (Do not ever think that Jesus was not in complete control of circumstances and events, even on this night and the coming day – it was their hour and the power of darkness, but granted to them by Him)
So Jesus is now alone with His most trusted followers and the ones who would be His Apostles through whom He would birth His church. He begins now to speak to them with the sort of intimacy one would expect from someone going away for a long time, to those he loves dearly.
Now if you have your Bible open and you let your eyes just run down over the last eight or nine verses of chapter 13 you can see that He speaks of His pending reentrance into His glory with the Father, and He tells them that although they cannot immediately follow where He is going they will surely follow later. He exhorts them to love one another with the kind of love He has demonstrated and will demonstrate for them.
We can’t take the time to unpack all of this now, but just get the sense of assurance and encouragement He is imparting to them.
Once more, I want to remind you that Judas has left the assembly. Jesus could not have said the things He was saying here with Judas still present. He would have had to use qualifiers such as, ‘By this all men will know that some of you are My disciples’. He would have had to say ‘I go to prepare a place for most of you’.
There are many in the church who, like the disciples to this point, have followed Jesus at a distance, intellectually connected, often confused, sometimes amazed, not truly ready to follow the way of the cross.