CHRIST'S INVITATION TO THE WHOLE WORLD
Based on the Gospel of John, Chapter 14 (Please Read at least John 14:1-14... and primarily vs. 6)
1"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God[a]; trust also in me. 2In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going."5Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" 6Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you really knew me, you would know[b] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." 8Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." 9Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
INTRO: With full knowledge of His arrest and impending death being just a few short hours away, Jesus was not found dwelling on His own problems. Instead He was occupied with a genuine and unfathomable compassion and concern for His disciples! It certainly must have taken the patience of God Himself not to just throw His hands up in the air, rebuke and quit such a frustrating group.
Thomas, feeling crushed by what seemed an uncertain future, didn't know how to handle things. For the whole group he asked, "Lord, we do not know where You are going; how can we know the way?" The question actually highlights an incredible lack of faith and trust in Jesus at that point, even though the disciples had spent years learning from Him and witnessing His power.
Philip thought the uncertainty could be cleared up by suggesting, "Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied." His statement assumed, in effect, that he knew what would be sufficient, but it actually introduced a wedge as if to separate Jesus from God.
Always patient and encouraging, Jesus responded with assurance for His immediate disciples and us that He can be counted on as the unfailing Resource for all ultimate certainty and sufficiency. Jesus taught as though pleading: "Believe Me, that I am in the Father and the Father in Me." "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also." "The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does His works! - Believe Me..." "...Or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves!" Then certainly with those last words the disciples could remember a host of ways in which Jesus had demonstrated that He was the Possessor of Almighty Divine Power:-- feeding the 5,000 or calming the storm, healing all kinds of diseases and even raising people from death.
Among His words of teaching is one of Christ's most clearly stated invitations for faith in the entire Bible, simply to trust and believe His claim that " I AM THE WAY, AND THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE; NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER BUT BY ME." - It's critically important to keep such an exclusive claim by Jesus in its context. While in one sense His words certainly issue an uncompromising warning that there is no other Way, or Truth or Life, the overall scene involves Jesus deliberately calculating His every word to provide comfort and strength for His disciples to withstand all the grief inducing events that would immediately follow. The "point," in other words, was not to label some as outsiders, but to assure His "insiders" - and all who believe.
JESUS IS THE ONLY "WAY" TO THE FATHER
"Religious pluralism" is theology's term for today's belief by hosts of people that all religions are essentially valid and equal. They are offended by any claim such as Christ's that would seem so arrogant and exclusive. While Christian believers should be understanding of people from other cultures and faiths and we certainly ought not to present ourselves as intolerant snobs, we still can't miss the implication of Christ's claim that He IS the only Way to the Father - both in terms of prayers being heard and in being admitted into Heaven.
Let's give some reasonable consideration to the Bible's evidence. - There really is nothing of arrogance in all that Jesus taught about servanthood, submission, humility, loving our neighbors and not "lording it over" others. Jesus Himself stooped to wash His disciples' feet. There isn't anything "snobbish" about the Almighty God of the universe and all creation becoming incarnate, - one of us, - a Human. There wasn't any self-righteous kind of pride in Jesus experiencing His lowly birth, life of poverty and "nowhere to lay His head." No narrow-minded intolerance is present in Jesus submitting to the mock trials, beatings, ridicule and crucifixion He endured, - although He taught that the Way IS narrow. - Can it really be reasonable, then, to suggest arrogance on the part of Him who "emptied Himself" of His Divinity, using His Power only to help, and who "became obedient unto death ... even death on a Cross" in our place - suffering hell, in fact, which is what our sin causes US to deserve?!
Christ does have His enemies to be sure, but not because HE ever wanted anyone to be! To put it both as delicately and yet as succinctly as possible, He IS the only Way because He's the only One who could make satisfactory atonement for our sin - but that's a far-cry from any reasonable accusation of intolerance on His part. Rather than arrogance, He invites ALL to put their trust in His incomprehensible act of compassion, love and grace! Any enemies of the Cross need to learn and experience that aspect of Jesus, and it's the task of all who believe to communicate to them what we ourselves have unworthily received.
JESUS IS "THE TRUTH"
Besides really being "the Way," Jesus is also "the Truth." He embodies in His own Person the Truth of both our vast sin and His glorious salvation.
In Christ the magnitude of our debt of sin is brought to light as we see HIM having paid its penalty on the tree of the Cross. Scripture quotes to us, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the Truth is not in us." But what took place at the Cross, what is shown in Christ's suffering and death and about who He is, is where all ultimate Truth is exposed!
Jesus is "the Truth" in His very existence, being One with God the Father. He also reveals all Truth by His Spirit through His Word. "Sanctify (My followers) in the Truth," Jesus prayed; - "Thy Word IS Truth." -- We don't have to stumble around looking for it on our own with some trial and error approach, or by dabbling in all the religions that this world offers. The crystal definition of Truth couldn't be stated more clearly! It's the Word God has given us and we can pick up and read with our own hands and eyes, the Bible!
Yes, that written Word straightforwardly confronts and convicts us with our deadness in sin and our hell-worthiness. Far more than that, though, it explains how God has unquestionably demonstrated His infinite and unconditional love and compassion for us all in that state. Far from excluding anyone, we see in His Book that God desires the salvation of all people as well as ourselves - and He actually performed the necessary action to bring it about through the historical occurences of Christ's death and resurrection. SALVATION by Jesus Christ and faith in Him is as much the Truth as our sinfulness placed on Him, in other words, and we bear the privilege of communicating such grand news to those who have not yet been found by it.
JESUS IS "THE LIFE"
Neither the oblivion of the Buddhist's Nirvana, nor the Muslim's suicide-bomb route to Heaven, nor the Hindu's or New-Ager's subjection to endless reincarnations back to miserable earthly existence offer any reassurance or hope or happiness. We have the Life that Jesus provides to offer to the world, and we don't want to be guilty of holding anyone out when it's abundant enough for everyone to share.
By His "Oneness" with the Father, Jesus is the Creator of Life. Through His death on the Cross, everyone who is now "in Christ is a new creation," having true spiritual Life injected into him or her, as it were. By His own resurrection back to Bodily Life we see that Jesus is the absolute Conqueror of death! That means no more dying; - no countless reincarnations. It's for forever. It's eternal. No more death, period! Crown Him the LORD of Life, as a hymn says!
The Bible states that Jesus Christ "IS the True God and Eternal Life." HE claimed, "I am the Resurrection and the Life." The best news of all, though, is that it's not for Himself alone! He went on to invite us that, "Because I live, you shall live also." - "I go to prepare a place for you..."
Let's take Him at His Word and not ever turn Him down. It's too good to refuse, but possible to reject it. Yet, "God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but HAVE eternal Life." -- Scripture promises without exception that whoever "has the Son HAS Life" but just as urgently cautions that whoever "has NOT the Son of God has NOT Life" - and yet not because GOD wants it that way. He has GIVEN all sufficiency in Christ and His Word for all to receive Life.
Be a sharer! To keep silent about the Gospel's wondrous grace is to make ourselves judges over others, including even some of our own loved ones perhaps, in effect telling them to "Go to hell; you can't have Life!"
CONCL: Christ's exclusive words in John 14 do contain the sort of "status" claim that He is exalted and more important than anything and everyone who exists. But it's anything BUT SELFISH!!!
John 14 has a host of sermon possibilities about how important Jesus considers those who believe. He presents these items as utter facts, for example, that:-- A place will be ready for each where God dwells, Jesus will come and take us there, We will do greater works than He Himself did (by our prayers), We have the privilege of answered prayer made in His Name - with His own full righteousness and power standing behind it, and He promised to send the gift of His Holy Spirit. What more could He share as peace-offerings than things like these along with His atoning sacrifice for humanity's sin on the Cross? HE didn't come to belittle anyone.
Jesus Christ IS the Way, the Truth, and the Life! He said so from love's deepest well, though, and not out of any kind of censorship. - People ought not be given any opportunity to complain that Christ's claim is somehow intolerant or unfair. Instead they should be immediately invited to get in on all the blessings it brings. Here Jesus has invited YOU to do the same by His words - to get in on all the blessings He so desires to pour out. Take Him up on it and embrace it!
"Whoever comes to Me," He says, "I will in no wise cast out."