A sermon on John 14:1-11, for the 5th Sunday after Easter, May 10, 2020.
In the movie The Wizard of Oz Dorothy dreams that she lands in a strange new land. Immediately it becomes obvious that she is no longer in Kansas. Glinda, the good witch, tells Dorothy in order to get home she has to inquire of the great Wizard of Oz. The Wizard will tell her how to get home. How would she find this Wizard? The yellow brick road leads the way to her destination. Simple, isn’t it? The munchkins even sing a famous song about those directions to follow the yellow brick road. Of course, dangers lurk on this road. The wicked witch laid out traps to stop Dorothy from continuing her quest. Dorothy also met friends, a scarecrow, a tin man, and a cowardly lion, who would help her along the way. However, the directions never changed. Follow the yellow brick road.
Do we ever wish our life would be so simply laid out? We follow a single path laid out before us. We do not need to deviate to the left or the right. In reality our path seems to be just the opposite, doesn’t it? We take multiple turns, possibly several paths, until we reach our final destination. Yet, if we get down to the bare bones of it, our path in life is simple.
- He leads us to our eternal home.
- He is the only way.
Jesus had just dropped some pretty big bombshells on his disciples. Soon he would leave them. For three years Jesus had been by the disciples’ side. They travelled together. They worked together. Yet, it would no longer be the same. Their relationship would forever be changed. He would leave them. The hardest pill to swallow came next. The disciples would not even be able to follow him at this very moment.
Peter spoke up. Even if nobody else would follow, he would. It did not matter where Jesus would go, but Peter would follow, even all the way to death. Jesus had sad news for Peter. He would not follow Jesus either. Instead Peter would deny Jesus not once, not twice, but three times this very evening.
Peter’s heart, along with each and every disciples’ heart, sank. The disciple sat around the table trying to wrap their minds around these truths. Even though Jesus brought sad news, Jesus would not leave them in the midst of despair at what would come. He knew exactly the words the disciples needed to hear. “Do not let your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1). The disciples did not have to be alarmed. Everything would turn out alright. All they had to do was believe.
Jesus built them up for this very moment. God had been preparing his followers for centuries for the events that would take place very soon. His suffering, death, and resurrection would prepare things for the future. The confusion of the disciples would not have to last, but they would look in faith to Jesus to overcome their troubled hearts.
Jesus had lived a perfect life for the world. Soon he would die on the cross to win the victory over sin, death, and the devil. He would rise. Even after his resurrection, the relationship would not remain the same. Jesus would not travel and work with the disciples. He would ascend to heaven. Still in the midst of all of this, their hearts did not need to be troubled.
“In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you” (John 14:2). Just because he would no longer be with his disciples does not mean he had nothing to do. Jesus went ahead of the disciples to make preparations. He pictured for them heaven. Row after row of beautifully built mansions lined the heavenly streets. The saints would one day inhabit these homes. Jesus constructed these houses for his very own. He prepared it especially for each believer. These would be the eternal homes of the believers. Here all the saints would come to receive their eternal rest.
If he built a home for them, Jesus would come back for the disciples. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that you may also be where I am” (John 14:3). It made logical sense. If Jesus prepared these heavenly homes for his people, why would he leave them in confusion and sadness? Jesus would not abandon his disciples forever. They would join him in heaven. On the Last Day the Lord would bring all those who followed him home. The disciples’ hearts could rest. Jesus had it all planned out. They had to trust and follow him.
Are our hearts troubled? This sounds like an understatement, right? Our hearts sense and feel trouble on a daily basis. Trust, which takes years to build, tumbles to nothing because of one tiny lie or an act of infidelity. Some have lost their job. We look at the unemployment numbers, which rise on a daily basis. Experts say it could possibly take years to undo the damage happening at this very moment to our economy. This news brings angst and worry to all. Our retirement income takes a hit. All the years of investing to build up a nest egg, erodes away in a matter of weeks.
Jesus comes to us and says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” All those fears, yes they are very real and being faced by many, cannot overcome the plans I have for you. Even if those things will get the better of us or never be solved in our lifetime, our eternal welfare rests securely. We place our hearts in Christ, who calms us. We place our hearts in Jesus who is preparing an eternal home for us.
It sounds cliché, but it is so true. We believe. We trust God. A virus will not discredit us from the heavenly mansions. Jesus will not go out of business leaving heaven only half ready for his chosen saints. Jesus says, “I will bring you to be with me.” His death has won it for us. His resurrection guarantees it. On the Last Day we will follow our Lord and Savior to our eternal home. Our hearts rest on this truth from God.
The disciples learned Jesus would prepare a place for them. Now, they had to understand how to get there. They should have known. “You know where I am going, and you know the way” (John 14:4). From little on the disciples learned it. They heard all about it throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry. At the same time, their sinful nature kept it hidden from them. They failed to understand how to follow Jesus.
“’Lord, we don’t know where you are going,’ Thomas replied, ‘so how can we know the way’” (John 14:5)? Thomas spoke what all the disciples must have been thinking. They wanted a step by step guide to get where Jesus would go. Would he go to a different city? A different country? All Jesus had to do was give them directions, so they could follow.
Jesus must have felt like doing a face palm. After all they had seen and heard they still did not get it. They questioned where and how to get to the place where Jesus would go. Like so many of the Jews their minds remained clouded. Jesus informed the disciples of the way, which was simple. “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through me” (John 14:6).
The way sat right in front of them. Faith in Jesus would allow them to follow where Jesus led. Jesus would bring life by giving up his life upon the cross. They could expect no other path to spring up. Jesus was the only way. He would lead all to the Father.
If we want to take a long distance journey to a place we have never gone before, we will make sure we have the route planned out. In the past every car had a map in it. Some might still carry around a map or Atlas, but I wonder how many people even know how to read one. Today, we use our phones or some other GPS device. All we have to do is put in the address and hit the “Go” button. We follow the step by step directions laid out for us. Some of these routes will be updated to avoid traffic and construction in order to make the best use of our time.
We do not have to think with this. We just listen. Even if we want to take a detour along the way, these devices will plot out a new path for us to take in order to reach our final destination. This does not work for us to reach our eternal home. We cannot take various paths to get to heaven. Our GPS has to follow one person, Jesus.
The world does not understand this. The world says it does not matter what we believe. All the paths will eventually merge to the same place. People use different names, but they all are the same person. Each person can follow their own belief system or religion and that is okay.
Jesus debunks this thought process. There is only one way to salvation. It is not Allah or Buddha or human tradition. It is Jesus. He alone is the Way and the Truth and the Life. We do not have deviate or wonder if we are on the right path. We follow Jesus and him alone to our eternal home.
How can Jesus be the only way? Our sins blocked the path to our Father. They stood as obstacles too big for us to overcome. Jesus came to plow away the sins from our path. His death pushed all our sins away, not just to the side, but completely away from us. Jesus then takes us by the hand and leads us down the path. We can make no mistake; Jesus is the only one who can lead us.
Dorothy eventually got home to Kansas once more surrounded by family and friends. As we sojourn in this life we can never forget to follow Jesus. He leads us to eternal life in heaven where our home is waiting for us. We do not need to worry about multiple routes on how to get there, there is only one. Jesus is the only way. Amen.