Way Truth Life

John 14 The Way, The Truth, and The Life

A friend of mine visited the Holy Land a couple of years ago, and what made the holiday for her was that everywhere she looked, she saw the Bible spring to life. For example she saw stones in the desert that looked so much like real bread. She saw sheep and goats, and couldn’t tell the difference between them because their rough fleeces were so alike. She saw a shepherd leading the sheep rather than round them up and drive them forward.

But what struck her most was when she realised how utterly helpless a person was in the wilderness if there was no path to follow, no signpost or directions of any kind anywhere around.

She spoke of the sheer relief of discovering a well worn path, in the desert, along which people had obviously travelled. It was a great source of comfort and hope to the weary and thirsty traveller.

As we have heard in the gospel this morning Jesus described himself as the Way, at a point when the disciples were at their most vulnerable.

He had been telling them that he would be with them only a little while longer, and that where he was going, they would not be able go with him, but that one day they would be able to. He was trying to break the news of his departure to them gently, but they had a lot of questions to ask him because they were so confused. They needed answers and he was able to comfort them with these words. "I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me, so that where I am there you may be also."

No wonder so many people choose this gospel reading at funeral services. These words must surely be the most reassuring words in the whole of the Bible, and have been a source of real hope to those whose loved ones have gone on before them.

Jesus was in fact revealing to them a well worn path in the pain and confusion of their wilderness experience. . . the Way they must follow, if they were not to become lost.

The Way to the Father!.

Quite often we find ourselves in wilderness situations.

We feel angry, confused, frightened, directionless, insecure, steeped in problems sometimes of our own making, and we wonder why we can’t get our bearings.

"We ask where is God in all this?"

Quite often unconfessed sin or fear has led us astray, right off the well worn route and straight into a state of emptiness and despair, this was the path of the prodigal son if you remember.

“All we like sheep, have gone astray” says the OT scripture,”each of us has turned to his own way.”

You know it's so much part of human nature to want to do things our own way. Look for example at that well known song, sung by Frank Sinatra:- My way.*(please don’t burst into song at this point John)

It’s a song which tells of the struggles, the regrets, and the pain of a person who did do things his own way, and who was quite proud that he had done things his own way...and how it wasn't always easy, but he had survived.

Jesus offers us the direct and the best route to the Father, by walking as he walked, by doing as he did, but so often our own will and desires come before his. So often we think we know better.

I’ll give you an example, a true story of an African bishop called Bishop Festo Kivengere, who one evening, had had a fierce argument with his wife. Unfortunately he had a preaching engagement that same night, so he said goodbye and went off. But as he walked down the drive, God spoke to him; and this is how the bishop described the dialogue between himself and the Lord.

“Festo,”said the Lord, “You go back and apologise to your wife!”

“But Lord, I’ve got a very important sermon to preach!”

“You go back and apologise to your wife!”

“But Lord, there are hundreds of people waiting for me and we’re going to have a good time tonight.”

“You go and apologise to your wife!”

“But Lord, I’m almost late and someone is coming to collect me!”

“All right, “ the Lord said, “You go and preach your sermon and I’m going to stay here with your wife in the kitchen”

Bishop Festo ended the story with these words:

“ So I went back into the kitchen and aplogised. So there was revival in the kitchen before there was revival in the church”

We are so often driven by our self-will rather then by the wind of the Spirit of God. We become lost because we do things our own way. Sometimes it is a struggle to take control of ourselves. Like the person who once prayed

“Dear Lord, so far today I’ve done alright. I haven’t gossiped, lost my temper, been nasty

greedy, grumpy, overbearing, selfish or obnoxious. I’m really glad I’ve accomplished all these things on my own. But in a few minutes Lord, I’m going to have to get out of bed- and from that point on , I’m going to need all the help I can get from you!”

Jesus is and was the perfect, the supreme example,on which to base our lives, yet we think it doesn’t really matter if we continue our old ways,our old habits.

But really revival must begin in each one of us , if we are to have revival in our church.

But sometimes we find as a church , that we have somehow lost the vision......

In the book of Revelation ch 3 we come across the church at Laodicea, a church which was actually on the way, but making no progress along the way. They were standing still, they were poor in spirit, and they were blind to it all.

But they claimed that they were rich, successful, and that they did not need another thing.

They were advised to buy gold refined in the fire, so that they could become really rich, for when gold is heated in the furnace, the impurities rise to the surface and are skimmed off, so the gold is made pure, so it is with our sins.

Secondly they were told to wear white garments to hide the shameful nakedness, in other words to seek the cleansing , the forgiveness for the sin of self-righteousness.

Finally they are told to put ointment on their eyes so that they will be able to see the way ahead again.

Oh that we could open our eyes to see what God sees in us and what he desires for His Church and for His world.

If we could see , we might be shocked to discover that we too may be standing still and not journeying at all.

Perhaps we should ask ourselves every so often if we have fallen into the trap which the Laodiceans fell into, the trap of being neither hot nor cold but lukewarm, happy with the comfortable, easy ‘broad’ way, rather than the challenges presented to us in following Jesus, and living as he lived.

In this day and age people might ask ."Well what's wrong with being comfortable?"

But the Christian church should be on the move, should it not, not standing still. We are all meant to be pilgrims on a journey seeking how best to serve God, how best to be his channels for his healing grace to others.

It's an uncomfortable message , but one that needs be addressed.

Dare we ask if any of this applies to us as individuals or as a church?:-

Have we lost our way, or are we standing still?

Jesus said, “Trust in God, trust also in me”

To return to the 'Way' is to trust, to put ourselves once more into the hands of the Living God, and ask along with the disciples, "Lord, how can we know the way?

Let us for a few moments of silence before we say the creed come before the Living God and ask him to show us any areas of our lives that needs his healing and forgiveness, it may be things we are quite blind to, and let us also pray for our church, that it is able to move with great momentum and a sense of real purpose into the future led by His Spirit.