Summary: The sequel to "The Crucifixion of Christ" is "He’s Alive!
Recently the world has been a buzz with the frenzy over seeing Mel Gibson’s rendition of the last twelve hours of Christ life. The movie called "The Passion of Christ" has opened in Theaters, even in predominatly non-Christian nations, to sell out crowds. Most sit in stunned silence in their seats and leave with little ability to express themselves about the graphic and violent nature of Christ’s arrest, punishment and death. It is a remarkable expression of the very somber Good Friday experiance of Christ’s death on the cross. And like we stripped the sanctuary of its paraments and colors and left in sombering silence after having nailed our sins to the cross, it is a message that seemingly at first is complete. The Jesus Christ died for the sins of many. "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world." And like all movies, come "the end" and the credits and you go home.
But when you go to a show; When you go to a play; what I told my Old Testament professor, is "You don’t walk out during the intermission, but you must remain until the end to often understand what happened in the beginning. And so maybe with the Passion of Christ, you really have to walk out of one Theater, and down the hall and into a squel that might well be called simply "He’s Alive!". And for every stunned movie goer who sat in eerie silence, now comes rejoicing! And for every person who left the first movie hall in speechless reverance comes sheer joy. And to the sorrowful comes hope, as the pronouncement of the empty tomb resonates across the theater speakers in Dolby Surround Sound "He is not here! He has risen!"
And the joy of the disciples moves into the Upper Room where Christ appears to them, and then Thomas goes and does it, he lets our human frailty to the story. It is like the wind going out of the sail, like Pavorotti singing a powerful note, and someone lets out all the air, as Thomas’ asks "But Lord we don’t know where you are going and how can we know the way?" Christ though isn’t phased that someone hasn’t been paying attention, and He responds with a boldness and certainty, "Where I go you know, and the way you know." And He answered Thomas with one of the best known Scriptures in the Bible. Now you are probably thinking of John 3:16 "For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life." But that is not the one we speak of this morning, though perhaps similar in nature, when Jesus tells Thomas "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." The last being the obvious that Jesus Christ is the means by which we who call ourselves Christians find our way to God. For us, there is no other way. Now lets look at those other three statements briefly:
1) Jesus said "I am the Way". You want to know the way to heaven? You want to know how to get to those mansions prepared for you? You want to come to the place where I am going to be with the Father? Then come through belief in Me. I am the Way. Yesterday at a Thomas Lay’s (Euenice Dayton’s nephew’s) Funeral, a family member talked about how during his life, Thomas searched for his way. In Judean understanding :the way" was a symbol of how one travels there life. "In the Psalms, "way" is usedas a metaphor to describe a life lived eiother in accordance with the law, or the will and esire of God." (NIB, Vol IX, p. 742). In the Greek understanding Hodos (#3598) is was a "means for a journey". Going to take a journey to the Father? Then you must come my way!
When I was a teen, some scholars trying to reach lost generations and modernize the translation of the gospel message, produced a Bible called "The Way". As young people were asking, like Thomas, "What is the way of life?" an attempt was made to share the good news of Christ, that He is the Way! That His Word is the Way! That this is the Way of God, and all hope is not lost on Good Friday, but the Way has risen! He has risen indeed!
2) Secondly Jesus proclaism that He is the Truth! Jesus often said "I tell you the truth", contrasting himself against perhaps what the world might be saying. But more than that, in this teaching, Jesus elevates His simple statement to a higher pronouncement that "He is the Truth". ("Aletheia" #225). Jesus who is the way, is also the truth! We are not talking about a half-hearted truth; nor are we talking about a little white lie; nor are we talking about something misleading, or mis-interpreted, but He is none other than the Truth! "That in Jesus, the Incarnate Word, the Son of God, one can see and know God in a manner never before possible." (p. 743).