May the words of my mouth and the way, the life and the truth be engraved upon our hearts.
We need to step back to the evening of the last supper. The disciples were gathered and Jesus was trying to make them understand the events that were about to transpire. And the disciples just couldn’t wrap their minds around its enormity. As they protested and questioned and scratched their heads, Jesus celebrated the Passover meal and washed their feet. But they were still troubled. It looked like they were about to become leaderless and they don’t know what to do or where to go. Jesus responded to their fears with one of the most reassuring pieces of scripture:
- Let not your hearts be troubled (John 14:1)
I can imagine that Jesus said this with deep sadness, eyes brimming with tears and his voice choked with emotion. He knew what was going to happen. Things were falling apart and he would soon face his ordeals in the Garden of Gethsemane.
But he told the disciples not to be troubled. Why?
Because he was preparing ‘a place for them in heaven. ‘
That was huge news to the disciples!
Think of the elation of most of them (except maybe Judas) to hear that. They were not going to be abandoned! This small phrase could be called a ‘Manual for Stress Management’. No matter how afraid or confused or bewildered we are, Jesus is there for us, He has made a place for us!
But Jesus did not provide a road map or a AAA Trip-Tik for the disciples. They did not know how to get there. Thomas actually asked for directions!!!! (Can you imagine that, ladies?!) If you remember from the sermon on Doubting Thomas a couple weeks ago, Thomas as a practical man, he wanted to make sure he knew where to go and how to get there.
But Jesus did not answer them. . . or at least not in a way they expected.
He said He was ‘the way’.
We have all heard the collection of verses concentrated into:
- I am the way, the truth, the life. (John 14:6)
Let’s look at each of these:
- I am the Way
Jesus teaches us that the only way to the Father is through Him, because Jesus and the Father are one, by knowing Jesus we also know God. If we follow Jesus, we will find a place in the one of the many mansions in heaven that He has gone to prepare for us.
- I am the Truth
Jesus is the universal truth – he was the truth then and is the truth now. Things in the world may fade away and perish, but Jesus is constant –then, today and tomorrow. Jesus is that truth that will set us free – free from the bonds of sin. People who suffer because of their sins will be free if they believe in Jesus.
- I am the Life
All of us believe that our own lives are precious. The world contains millions of sick people who want to be healed of their dis-ease. Jesus is life because he is source of life conquering death. As noted in John 1:4
- In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.
And again in John 5:24:
- I tell you the truth, whoever hears my words and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned.
But just like the disciples, we often forget or doubt He is way’. Certainly for the disciples, the sense of faith and trust in Jesus would only become real after He left them. But Jesus left them and us with those words ‘way, life, truth’ to cling to. As long as we remember these we are transformed.
But this transformation is more than just believing – it is also about doing. As our faith grows, so does the way we live, the things we do, and the way in which we do them. Our lives are changed, even in the most mundane tasks of our daily life.
As Saint Teresa of Avila said:
- “Christ dwells among the pots and pans.”
Some of us spend far too much time trying to become something we are not instead of just being who we really are. In some circles, Christian people get together and one man talks about what Jesus said to him at breakfast that day just as he was eating his bagel; and a woman talks about what God had done for her yesterday afternoon at about 2:23 right there in the shopping mall; and still another man gushes about how the Spirit had gifted him in so mighty a way that right after he visited old Harold in the hospital, why the very next day Harold was healed.
But, the goal here is to foster a greater awareness of how God in Christ is already at work in you and how, by becoming more aware of that, you can become more intentional in following Jesus along the way which you are already traveling with him.
Our destination is glory in the place Jesus has prepared for us. That is a promise which soothes us, calms us, settles our otherwise troubled hearts. Meanwhile, however, we have the journey to undertake. As we lose ourselves in Jesus and in being his disciples, we find even our ordinary day-to-day activities infused with deep meaning. Because if sacredness happens to us at all, it happens among the pots and pans of the everyday and not just on Sundays when we feel particularly jolted by worship or on Wednesday when we volunteer for some service project.
Our goal is to perform our work, to lead our families, and raise our kids, take time out for leisure and worship our God in ways so shot-through with Christ that we won’t worry whether our lives look exactly how we imagine heavenly life in mansions will look. Instead, we should savor the journey, highlight and celebrate what we see and experience along the way whether or not all of it seems exciting and spiritually significant.
Somebody has to be a Christian in life’s many and varied situations. According to Jesus that “somebody” is everybody as we all take the sacred journey with Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life — your life and my life every day and along every way.
Delivered at Church of the Good Shepherd, Athens, OH, 20 March 2008