How Can We Know the Way

Sun, Apr 19, 2020
Teacher: Mark Hull
Passage: John 14:1-6
Duration:21 mins 18 secs

Message text

How Can We Know the Way
John 14: 1-6

OPEN: Back in 1950s & 60s, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra played for NY Yankees and became close friends. One day, Yogi Berra invited Mickey Mantle to his apartment, but Mantle... got lost.
He stopped at a pay phone and called Yogi and said, “I'm trying to find your apartment, where is it?”
Yogi said, “Where are you now?”
Mantle replied, “I'm at the corner of 5th and Main.”
Yogi got excited and said, “Well, that’s GREAT...YOU ARE ALMOST HERE! you keep coming in this direction” and then... he HUNG UP.

Now, how helpful were those directions? Well, not very!
But why not? Why weren’t they helpful?
Well - because Mickey Mantle still didn’t KNOW THE WAY.
And until he knew the way he was still going to be lost.

The text for this morning’s lesson is John 14: 1 – 6
What I find interesting about this story in John, is that I think Jesus set this conversation up. I think he primed the pump so that Thomas would ask Him: “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” (John 14:5)

Because THAT’S the question... that Jesus wanted to answer: “How, can we know the way?” Until you know the answer to that question... you’re always going to be lost.
So today’s title is “HOW CAN WE KNOW THE WAY?”

James Thurber once said: “All men should strive to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.”
What a powerful point.
Until you know WHY you’re here and
WHERE you’re going... you’ll always be lost.
so Thomas will ask the most important question
“How can we know the way?”
Now the conversation actually began much earlier when Jesus said these words: “Let not your hearts be troubled...” John 14:1

ILLUS: Have you ever been on a trip, and gotten lost? When you were lost... did you get troubled?

There is a story told of a young boy, around the age of eight, who lived in Alaska with his parents. His dad was the Boy Scout leader of the area. The troop of the young boy decided to go mountain climbing up a two mile high mountain called Bald Eagle.

The boy loved to climb and made a competition with the other boys to see who could climb the quickest to the top.
The boy went further and further up, losing sight of the troop and his father, but did not slow down because did not want the other boys to catch him. As he climbed he learned it was easier to climb at a diagonal. Spiraling up, he finally reached the summit. It was lonely and cold as the wind blew across the hard rock surface of the mountain.

Time passed as he waited for the troop. Fear began to take hold of his mind. "What if I’m on the wrong mountain? Maybe I crossed over to another mountain and I’m lost!"
Two hikers seemed to appear from nowhere and asked the boy if he was okay. "Yeah," he said, trying to muster courage in his voice. "My Boy Scout troop is coming up."

The men left and the young boy was again alone. With nowhere to sit securely, as time passed the fear and doubt began to creep in again, "What if a bear comes up here?" The boy thought of descending to find his father but was unsure the way as he had spiraled up to reach the top.

Looking down from the peak, he saw a small farm with a pond in the valley below. He decided to venture there.
He came to an old dry mud road and followed until he stopped at a fork. "Which way?" He thought. He took the left. Finally, the road opened to the farm. He ran to the cottage and peered through the screen door to find a family eating at a table.
A woman came out and asked about the situation. She pointed to the mountain and gave the boy binoculars. "Look for your father up there."
The boy watched intensely for any sign of life at the top of the mountain. Nothing. Were they there?
Suddenly, the boy saw possible movement ....
"Dad!" The boy cried out in tears. "I’m down here!"

Though the boy could not hear a response he recognized the outline of his own father. The tiny figure quickly began to move down the mountainside. And, After what seemed like forever, the father ran from the forest and with tears, embraced his young son, glad that he had found his lost son.

And that is how many people look at their lives. They feel lost, they feel uncertain, and... they are TROUBLED.
It’s the uncertainty of life that drives us nuts. For example, take our present crisis over this virus.

ILLUS: I recently read an article that said this: “As the present PANDEMIC continues to spread, more countries and states order lockdowns, and the prospective slope of financial recovery steepens by the day. Many are facing tremendous uncertainty. Questions swirl in our heads.

What if I -- or someone I love -- gets the virus?
Am I still going to have a job tomorrow?
Will I EVER be able to retire now?
What if I lose the house?
Will life ever be the same?
Everything in our lives can be stripped away in a moment...
by disease, economic collapse, and most inevitably by death.

But I want to remind you that money and health never were a sure thing”
And that’s what Jesus said. He said nothing on this earth is a sure thing. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,
BUT, lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

Let me repeat: NOTHING on this earth is a sure thing... and that’s what drives us nuts! If we just knew which WAY to go; if we just knew ... what TRUTH to trust; if we just could be assured that LIFE would turn out alright - then, maybe, we might be able to hold on.

And Jesus said: if you’re looking for the WAY to go... that’s me.
If you’re looking for TRUTH you can trust... that’s me.
If you’re looking for assurance LIFE will turn out all right... that’s me. You Trust in God? Trust also in me.
I am the way, the truth and the life.

But, what is it about Jesus that makes Him the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE?
There’s a bumper sticker that reads: “Don’t Follow Me...I’m Lost!” In the religious world, there are lots of folks out there who say “Follow me, I know where I’m going!”

You can’t take Jesus out of our faith and still have Christianity. Everything hinges on HIM. That’s why Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life. NO ONE comes unto the Father except through me.”

Paul put it this way “... NO ONE can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:11

EVERYTHING HINGES ON JESUS! Without Jesus, we’ve got nothing!
But, why should make any difference to us. What is it about Jesus being the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE that would help me deal with my Doubts, Distress and Discouragement?

Well, let’s take it one step at a time

1st - JESUS IS THE WAY. I hate getting lost. It happens to me wayyyy too often. That’s why I love GPS so much.

ILLUS: I read the true story of a couple who’d gotten lost on a backroad in Ireland. They spotted a farmer leading his cow to pasture and they stopped him.
"Excuse me. Could you direct us to Mohill? We're lost.

"And the man smiled at them, and said “Ah, you're not lost at all. For y'see, you've found me. And I know the way.”
When you’ve found Jesus, you’re not lost anymore... FOR HE IS THE WAY!

You see, there are a lot of people who are afraid that their lives will end up at a dead end. They’ve made the wrong choices, they’ve gone down the wrong roads of life, and when it’s all said and done... they suspect that their lives are pretty empty.
But, you don’t have to worry about that with Jesus.
Once you turn your life over to Him, He fixes all that.

In fact, Ephesians 2:10 says “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works that He prepared in advance for us to do.” When Jesus re-creates our lives, He gives us things to do (good works He prepared in advance for us).

And when that happens, we have a promise from
1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that IN THE LORD your labor is NOT IN VAIN.”

Our promise is, that if we labor for Jesus, our labor is NOT in vain. Jesus will take our efforts for Him and make them count for something. It doesn’t matter if you’ve made wrong choices in your life; it doesn’t matter if you’ve gone down the wrong road.

When Jesus is THE WAY for you, you’ll arrive at a good destination. Because Jesus is the way!

ILLUS: In my utility room I have a tape measure. It’s just like 1000s of other tape measures in the US.
I use it to do measurements around the house and it tells me the truth about how long an inch and a foot and a yard is.
But my tape measure is not “the truth.” It merely tells me truth. The “truth” of that accurate measurement is found in Washington D.C. in a building called the National Institute of Standards and Technology. In that building they store perfect samples or “prototypes” of weights and measurements.

For example, they have a “Meter Standard.” It’s a reinforced bar of platinum alloyed with exactly 10% iridium. When they want to know the exact measurement of a “meter” they cool this bar down to 0 degrees Celsius at a sea level of 45 degrees latitude and that gives them the exact measurement of a meter.

Our measurements of Inches and Feet and Yards... are based on that prototype. So, when you use that “truth” as the basis of measurement, you don’t have to worry if your tape measure is accurate. That platinum bar IS THE TRUTH, and it is the measure of TRUTH.

In the same way, Jesus is THE TRUTH. He is the reality against which everything else in our world is measured.
For example – do you know how valuable you are?

All you have to do is look at John 3:16 “For God so loved the world (YOU) that He gave His only begotten Son...” You were so valuable to God, that Jesus came to die on the cross just for you.

That truth tells us all we need to know about how much God cares for us; and about God’s love and mercy,
and about how we can be forgiven of things that embarrass us and cause us to be ashamed. And that truth is more important than anything else this world can offer you. Because Jesus is the truth!!!!

LASTLY, JESUS IS THE LIFE. Do you know what the GOSPEL is? The Greek word we translate as “Gospel” literally means “good news”!
And do you know what God’s “good news” – His Gospel - is?

Paul wrote: “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the GOSPEL I preached to you... For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that CHRIST DIED for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that HE WAS BURIED, that he was RAISED ON THE THIRD DAY in accordance with the Scriptures...” 1 Corinthians 15:1 & 3-4

The GOOD NEWS is that Jesus died for our sins; He was buried; and that He rose from the dead! It’s that simple. And it’s through that gospel that we have LIFE in Jesus Christ. That’s why Baptism is the last thing sinners do before they become Christians.

I say the “last thing” because before baptism sinners must “believe” that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God; they must “repent” of their sins and determine not to live like that anymore;
they must “confess” that Jesus is now their master and owner.

When they’ve made those decisions, they then allow themselves to be buried in a watery grave of baptism.
Baptism is where we DIE TO OUR SINS, and we are BURIED (with Christ) in a watery grave; and then we RISE (with Him) to walk in newness of LIFE.

That’s what Romans 6:3-4 says “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his DEATH (you died)? We were therefore BURIED with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was RAISED from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

To be saved, we copy what Jesus did to bring us LIFE!
Because it is in Jesus – our way, truth and life – that we lay hold of what is truly life.

I want to close with a powerful statement by Thomas à Kempis: “Without the Way there is no going;
without the Truth there is no knowing;
without the Life there is no living.”

At this time we will sing the song of invitation

sermon contributor
Jeff Strite


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