Friday, October 25, 2019


Read Psalm 51

We are going to spend a little time on the topic of mercy.  Mercy is a recurring theme in God’s word.  Mercy is a quality of God and a quality of his people.

If you follow Jesus, then you are called to be merciful.

So mercy is just another word for grace or forgiveness, right?

Sort of but not exactly.  Precise definitions are elusive, but let’s take a short at this.   Mercy is God not giving us what our sins deserve.  Mercy abates God’s punishment.

That mercy is rooted in forgiveness and grace.  It’s all about who God is and not what we did or did not do.

Grace extends God’s favor and blessings to us even though we don’t deserve them.  Mercy delivers us from judgment and grace extends God’s lovingkindness to us.  Neither which we deserve based on anything that we did or did not do.

Mercy, like grace and forgiveness, is about God’s divine heart.

David—a man after God’s own heart—had surrendered to his lust with Bathsheba.  That lust resulted in pregnancy and the sequel here is that David arranged for Bathsheba’s husband to get killed in battle.

Just when he thought he had put all of this in his past, Nathan who was both prophet and friend to David, showed the king what he had done.

When David realized just how far he had fallen, he was broken.  He had disqualified himself from living in God’s goodness, at least at first glance.  But in the course of his relationship with God, David learned that he was a God of mercy.

God’s desire was not punishment.  God was not looking for more sacrifices.  God did not want David walking around in ashes and sackcloth for the next 7 years.  God’s desire is mercy.  God is merciful.

So, David called out to God to have mercy on him.  In this request, David acknowledged his sin.  In fact, he said that he couldn’t get away from it.  It was always there right in front of him.

David’s request was to blot out his transgression, take his sin away, create in him a clean heart.  David knew how terrible his sin was but he also knew that it was not game over.

In verses 11 and 12 we see David seeking mercy and grace.

Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

That’s a bold request.  Head hung low in shame asking God not to punish him is one thing but to be so bold as to ask to have the joy of salvation and sustenance was another. 

To understand mercy, we must understand that God not only wants to forgive us but he also wants to bless us and pour his favor out upon us.

So why ask God for a half-measure of anything?  When we seek his mercy, follow David’s example and seek his blessing and favor.

What’s our part?  Repentance.  We must desire to turn away from and leave behind that which is not of God.  That doesn’t mean leave all of your worldly stuff at the pawnshop and get a receipt.  Leave it all behind.  You are not coming back for it.

We did this when we turned away from the world and professed Jesus as Lord.

We became a new creation.  I am crucified with Christ.  Christ lives in me, but the old creation just won’t go away and if we are not diligent, it takes a shot at getting its old job back.

We are his disciples.  We are known by his love.  We press on towards the goal.  We are running a good race, and then we slow down or stop and take a breather in our race of faith and start focusing on others and what they are or are not doing and our eyes are no longer on Jesus.

It happened to Peter as he took a few steps on the water and then started focusing on the storm.  So much for walking on water.

That’s when that old creature can get its hooks in us, when we lose sight of where Jesus is leading us and start focusing on everyone else.

The disciples struggled with this.  They saw some people driving out demons in the name of Jesus and so they told them to stop.  Why?  They were not part of the group.

Jesus admonished them noting that they could not do this and the next moment become his enemies.  If they are doing this and not against us, then we are surely on the same team.

The disciples were not quite ready for what would happen after the death and resurrection of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit.  Their tight-knit little group would launch similar events all over the known world. 

We do this too.  We stop running our race.  We stop following Jesus and we start judging other believers for how they respond to God’s grace.  Who am I to judge another man’s servant?

When this happens to us, let’s repent.  Let’s ask for God’s mercy.  Let’s ask to receive God’s blessings as we get back in the race.

We know that God doesn’t want to hear our excuses.  He wants to hear our confessions.  He doesn’t want our apologetics for our divisiveness.  He wants us in one accord in his love and mercy.  He wants to give us his mercy.  He wants us to know his heart.  He wants us to live in his favor.
But first comes mercy.  We have all fallen short of the glory of God.  That’s a familiar scripture most know from Romans, but understand that we all need mercy to rescue us from that fallen state.

The dictionary defines mercy as compassion or forgiveness given to someone who is within your power to punish.  Before we live in God’s favor, we need merciful forgiveness.

When we ask God for mercy, we must first repent.  It’s not, God forgive me so I have a clean slate and can do this sinful thing again.

God grants us mercy knowing full well that we will likely sin again, and soon.  It is our human condition.

God has always been merciful.  He has the absolute right to judge and condemn but his divine heart is one of love and we know that love in his mercy.

His mercy is so great that his own blood was given in sacrifice.  The mercy seat in the Old Testament was that place above the ark of the covenant—between the two golden cherubim—when God would appear in the Holy of Holies.   Once each year, the high priest would enter with the bull’s blood and atone for his own sins and those of the people.  Some translations read those that the people committed in ignorance.

The blood of bulls could not give people a clear conscience.  The people had made their part of the prescribed sacrifice, but atonement was not complete.

Only by the blood of Jesus are we free of our sins.  Only by the mercy of God, can this atonement be for eternity.  Only in this New Covenant can we truly live.

All of this comes from God’s divine mercy.

When we truly examine our lives with eyes to see granted to us by the Holy Spirit, then we see that the difference between what we deserve and what we receive is mercy. 

I am going on record today saying that I am a big fan of mercy.  It is so intertwined with forgiveness and grace that we often see them as one, but know that it all began with God’s mercy.

As we move forward in our exploration of mercy, know with certainty that God created no one for the purpose of condemnation and eternal destruction.

As we move forward, know with certainty, that God knew we would fall short but that mercy not sacrifice was and is always his first choice.  External rituals—even though they came from his own directives—give way to mercy.

There was sacrifice, but God in his mercy and compassion, make this sacrifice himself.

I know that mercy and grace and forgiveness are tightly intertwined, but this week set your thoughts and prayers on God’s mercy. 

God is merciful.


Sunday, October 20, 2019

No Greater Joy than this...

Read 3 John
This is our last Sunday where the topic is truth.  That doesn’t mean that truth won’t come up again.  You can’t really carve out a single topic from the full biblical witness that we are charged to receive.  You can’t talk love without encountering truth.  You can’t talk obedience without faithfulness.  You can’t focus on justice without coming across mercy, but as far as the main topic goes, this is our last Sunday on truth.  We pick up with mercy next week.

But this week we go to a very unique letter from the apostle John.
The apostle John was an interesting man for sure.  Almost everyone who follows Jesus knows the words from the third chapter of John’s gospel.  In speaking to Nicodemus, he spoke to all of us who have professed Jesus as Lord when he intensified his discussion with one of Israel’s teachers, saying:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

We think it was John who raced Peter to the grave on that resurrection morning.  John followed Jesus for about 3 years around 30 AD.  John was one of the leaders of the church in Jerusalem for over 3 decades.

John left Jerusalem for Ephesus from which he wrote his gospel and three letters.  By 95 AD, John has been exiled to Patmos and spent about 2 years there.  From this island exile, he wrote the Revelation of Jesus Christ.  But he did not die there.

John returned to Ephesus for a few years after he was released from Patmos.  He remained in Ephesus until he died near the beginning of the second century.  He was perhaps the longest living of the original apostles.
While I can’t confirm this in scripture, it is believed in those last years in Ephesus, when the worship service was complete, an elderly John would stand and simple say, “Love one another.”

I can’t confirm this but it sounds like the person that we know from scripture.  When I think of this apostle, I can’t help but think of Jesus giving his followers a new command, that they love one another.

Love one another.  What a gentle yet powerful command.  Jesus said that we would be known by our love and I think John was known by his love.
In his third letter, truth dominates the discourse.  This is the shortest book in the Bible with only 4 main characters.

·       John – the letter’s author
·       Gaius—the addressee
·       Demetrius—the postman
·       Diotrephes—the antagonist

Let’s start with the trouble-maker.  Diotrephes is trying to make the church in his own image. He rejects the counsel of John, who likely has been shepherding many churches in Asia Minor, but now this one church becomes about its local pastor or elder who has rejected being under the instruction and counsel of John.

He is doing more than stirring the pot with his own interpretations and agenda, he will not receive the letters of John and rejects anyone who won’t reject this apostle known for his love.

We don’t know much about Diotrephes or the church that he has apparently hijacked desiring to be first, put in the spotlight, the center of attention.  We don’t even know what the basis of the primary dispute was.  Was it theological?  Was it financial?  Was it the color of the carpet or the dishwasher? Was it something else?

We don’t know, but from John’s letter we see how other believers were treated and a wayward believer who somehow had taken the helm at this church.

John noted that he would deal with this matter face to face.  We don’t know if that happened or not.  Had Paul been dealing with this, we would probably have a book of the Bible with at least a dozen chapters, but John said he would sort that part out later.

The focus of this letter for us is truth.  John mentions truth 4 times in the first 4 verses and another 3 times in the rest of this very short letter.  He expresses his joy at what he has heard about Gaius.

In the midst of turmoil in this body, Gaius was living in the truth.  He was faithful to the truth.  Let’s put it this way.  He was genuine in his love for and his life given over to his Master.

John does give a piece of counsel with his affirmation of Gaius.  Imitate that which is good not that which is evil. 

He is affirming that he is doing the right things in helping the believers who have been sent with the gospel, even though many are not personally known to him.  His discipleship is genuine.

He is not looking for personal glory or notoriety.  He is genuine in his service to the Lord.  He lives in stark contrast to Diotrephes—the name means nourished by Jupiter—and surely contends with the Judaizers that Paul had to address in this same neck of the woods.

Gaius stuck to his faith and was not persuaded by the flavor of the month or the pagan heritage that had prevailed for centuries.  I think to last week as we talked about the words that Jesus gave his followers.  I am the way, the truth, and the life.  I think Gaius fully embraced that his life was in his Lord and not in himself or his perceived standing in the body.

We don’t know much about the church to whom John wrote, but his counsel applies to us.  Live in the truth.  Walk in the truth.  Be faithful to the truth.  Be genuine in your faith. 

We are called to mix it up in a godless world but not belong to that world.  Jesus jumped into the middle of a world of sinners not because he wanted that lifestyle.  He wanted to share words of life with the lifeless.

We can’t do that if we are faking it.  We can’t go into the godless world with words of life unless we walk in the truth.

Paul would say, work out your salvation with fear and trembling—living out your life lived in God’s favor as the most important thing that you do.

John says walk in the truth.

I ask, are we doing that?  How are we responding to grace—God’s unmerited love and favor?

Some people need a checklist.  Give me a list of God’s laws and let me see how close I can get.  This is how some are called to walk in the truth.

Some people—I think of Mother Teresa—who just went out into the world to be God’s love.  She walked in the truth.  This is giving everything that you have in response to God’s grace.  Living in God’s favor was enough sustenance and abundance for her.

I think of the airline pilot who faithfully goes through the checklist before takeoff.  I want him or her methodically going through the checklist.  I also think of the running back who knows the plays, but when the hole isn’t open has the instinct and desire and passion to find a crease in the defense and run towards the goal line.

Both live in the truth and respond in the manner that they know.  Most of us are somewhere in between the pilot and running back and don’t live in the world of analogy.  We live in the world of schedules, and bills, and ballgames, and idols, and fundraisers, and funerals.

Most of us, do our best to keep God first, to seek his kingdom and his righteousness before every other distraction of our lives.  But we still struggle.

Most of us are called to walk in the truth in our homes, our schools, our jobs, and our ministries—whatever they may be.

Most of us are called to walk in the truth proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, not because Tom won’t let up on this Great Commission thing, but because our hearts cannot contain the truth of how much God loves us.

We are to walk in the truth living a life that says God loves us and has shown us how to live.

We are to walk in the truth praising the name of Jesus every step of the way.  Only through his atoning sacrifice are we made right and can live the life we were designed to live.

We are to walk in the truth knowing that the glory of Christ Jesus surpasses everything that God has done for us.

For this reason, we must not be persuaded or dissuaded by the state of the world, the flavor of the month slant on scripture or socialism, or whether we have a pianist or not.  Whatever the controversy at hand, we must never lose sight of or relegate to a subordinate position, that Jesus is Lord!  Neither things large nor small must get in the way of walking in the truth.

Listen to John’s words once again.

I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

John noted that while there was much controversy at the hands of this man named Diotrephes, those John had mentored and discipled and sent out gave him great joy when they didn’t get wrapped up in the gnat straining and camel swallowing but stuck to the truth that is Jesus Christ.

Diotrephes disruptive practices would be dealt with in due time.  This was the time to commend Gaius and perhaps all believers who stay the course of seeking God first in the middle of controversy and distraction.

You know, this is the only writing that we have from John where he does not use the name Jesus or Christ.  He simply notes that for the sake of the Name, disciples went forth in their ministry.

Remember how excited Peter was that he was beaten for the sake of the Name. Jesus is in heaven but for the sake of his name, our discipleship is multiplied to the point that the world will not overcome our living in the truth.

Walking in the truth is living for the sake of the Name.  Are we doing that?  Can we even do that?  Will we do that?

When we say the words that we got from Joshua, as for me and my house we serve the Lord do we translate them into action that says we walk in the truth?  Are we working Jesus in where we can or are we working out our salvation never leaving the Name of Jesus out of anything?

Will we be bold enough to speak the truth in a spirit of love and let people who are dead in their sin know there is life, life abundant, and life eternal in Jesus Christ.

Will we do that for the sake of the Name?

I think what gave John great joy will do the same for our Master.

Let’s walk in the truth.  Let’s live in the truth.  Let’s be people of the truth.


Thursday, October 17, 2019

Well done good and faithful servant--a memorial service for Gene Reeves

We gather this afternoon to worship God and celebrate the life of Gene Reeves

It’s hard to see him go, but he made this a very easy sermon to preach.  Today you get three messages.  I am the most recent pastor and will speak to what I know of Gene.  Jim knew Gene before any of us up here and I know there is no way that Duawn could have been untouched by this faithful servant of God.

They can tell the stories of mismatched boots and golf tournaments or snow angels or Gene Reeves stories that I have yet to hear.  I expect to learn something new about this wonderful man before we wrap up today.

I ask that everyone who can get their hands on a red hymnal, turn to page 657.  In a few moments, we are going to sing this.  You’re thinking, I thought the family got to pick the music.

Well, Gene picked this one.  When you see Sunday and Wednesday worship from my perspective, you see a lot of different faces during the singing of the hymns.

Some folks have a little smile.  Some look like they are back in high school algebra and the bell just won’t ring.  And then there was Gene.

I could always count on Gene to have a big smile when we sang this song.  He was singing.  He was smiling.  He was the epitome of making a joyful sound unto the Lord.

And then Gene couldn’t talk or sing and had to walk around with that towel in his mouth.  I’m sure he couldn’t stand it.  It hurt me to have to see him that way, but then we would sing this song and Gene couldn’t sing but I could see him clapping with the heels of his hands.

It was a clap you couldn’t hear, but it was heard in heaven.  Gene’s heart and his hands were singing, I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart.  I will enter his courts with praise.

Let’s sing number 657 together.  If you don’t have a hymnal and don’t know the words, just clap the heels of your hands together and smile like your worship is pleasing to God.

I couldn’t stand to see Gene with that towel in his mouth.  I knew he loved to talk and he didn’t have that joy in his last days.  Sometimes, when he could still talk, he would stop by in the afternoon on his way to somewhere else or just to come see me.

Our conversation always started the same way:  Got coffee?

I would answer:  Yes, but it’s been on a while.

Gene would head down the hall and return with a little Styrofoam cup of coffee and a smile on his face ready to update me on anything of local or international importance.

I would offer that the coffee was at the point when it was probably a 30-weight consistency.

Gene would smile and take a big drink and commence whatever he had to talk about drinking that coffee like it was fresh brewed gourmet blend.

You also knew when Gene had been in the building.  There would be a trail of mud from the front door to my office and usually to the coffee machine and back.  At least, I think it was mud.  He had surely come from the pasture.  I don’t know that Gene ever had an office job in his life.  He was always coming from his barn or his pasture of some point in between.

I was sure that Gene was going to get me fired.  I was sure of it.  He wanted to do the children’s sermon.  He explained what he was going to talk about and after he explained it to me, I was positive I was getting fired that very Sunday.

What are you going to do?  It’s Gene Reeves and he wants to talk to the kids.

Sunday came and I still wasn’t sure what he talked about with the kids.  I was positive that it was going to be my last Sunday though.

After the service, I talked to some of the kids, and they gave me the most succinct thoughts on what they had learned that morning.  I don’t remember what Gene talked about.  I think it was Noah and combines and harvest and broken parts.  I’m not sure but the kids were telling me about how much God loved them.

And then there was Route 66.  Gene made the analogy because there are 66 books in the Bible.  I got that but he lost me with the rest of the analogy about how many books were in the Old and New Testaments and how somehow there was this comparison, but Gene was using a different road atlas than I had.

So here’s the deal on that.  Reeves kids and grandkids, somebody is going to have to find out the whole story and be able to retell it.  That’s on you.

I have grown accustomed to having Patsy fix my tie during First Light.  I don’t wear a robe or a sports jacket during that service, but I’m not fully dressed until Patsy fixes my tie.

The morning after an elder retreat a few years ago—and we started those when Duawn was here—that morning at First Light Patsy, didn’t grab my tie.  She grabbed me by the front of my shirt and got in may face and said:  The next time I am supposed to make something to eat, you tell me and not Gene.

Everyone always brought something to eat to the retreat but only Gene had kept that information secret until the morning of the event.

Gene was our session clerk forever.  He only relinquished that duty less than 2 years ago.  Gene used to give his written notes to Patsy to type until his last few years he would give them to Laci.

Sometimes, nobody could figure out what he wrote.  His penmanship was pretty good but sometimes the sentences just didn’t make sense.

One time we were trying to make out one of those sentences.  It appeared that the session had voted to purchase a space shuttle with a manual transmission and park it on the 3 acres to our east.  That wasn’t exactly it, but close enough.  Eventually, we figured out that the session had voted to buy a fire extinguisher for the van.

Here’s the thing.  We had two or three sentences to figure out each year when the minutes were typed but what was amazing was that the session would have a 15-20-minute discussion about something we had to wrestle with and Gene would manage to record the essence of this conversation into one very succinct sentence.  It was utter brilliance.

One time, Gene couldn’t be there for the session meeting so I took the notes and after the meeting I typed them into a document and attached it to an email to Patsy.  Gene got the copy of the notes and handwrote them on his yellow legal pad so we still had to decipher them at the end of the year.
Some of you might be thinking, shouldn’t the preacher throw in a Bible verse or two?  I can’t settle on just one or two. 

Gene ran the good race, the fought the good fight, he kept the faith.  Now there is in store for him a crown of righteousness.

OBTW—there’s one waiting on you as well, if you have professed Jesus as Lord and faithfully run you race.

I can’t leave you with just Paul’s letter to Timothy, I need to give you some of the Master’s words as we celebrate Gene’s life.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

I think Gene heard this verse long ago—the Lord Jesus Christ talking about abundant life—and I think Gene said, “I’ll take me some of that!”  I don’t think he ever looked back from that point forward.

Gene knew that abundant life was watching kids and grandkids and great grandkids doing all manner of things, telling stories, and even trying to repair some machine that should have been retired a decade or two ago.  Abundant life was preparing for the Sunday school lesson.  Abundant life was dumping gutted material from this old building into a ditch and coming back for another load.

But when I think of Gene Reeves, I think of the Parable of the Talents.  If you are here on a regular basis, then you hear this parable at least twice a year.  I love this parable.

A certain man had three servants and was about to go on a long journey.  He trusted the first servant with 5 talents of money, the second with two, and the third with one.  He had given to each servant in accordance with their abilities.  Then he left for a long time.

The first servant put his talents to work immediately and made 5 more.

The second servant likewise put his talents to work right away and made 2 more. 

The third servant was afraid and hid his talent in the ground.

When the master returned, the first servant gave his account.  You gave me 5 and see I have gained you 5 more.

The second servant had a similar report.  You gave me two and see I have earned you two more.

The third servant came with his report as well, leading with his excuses for having buried his talent in the ground.  I know that you were a hard man and harvested when you didn’t even plant, and I was afraid.

The master said, “Oh you poor thing.  I’m sorry I put this burden of trust on you.”  NOT!

He said you wicked lazy servant.  All you had to do was put the money in the bank and at least you would have a little interest to show for this minimal effort.

Take the talent from him and give it to the one with the ten talents.  When Jesus told this parable, I’m sure the people remembered the proverb.  The wealth of the wicked is stored up for the righteous.

Now back to the first two servants.  You heard their reports.  Now hear their master’s reply.

Well done, good and faithful servant.  You have done well with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things.  Now, come and share your master’s happiness.

Of all the people whom I know that are trying to live out their salvation and their faith with fear and trembling—as the most important thing that you do, Gene had to be at the top of that list.

He had heeded the counsel of the psalmist and learned to number his days, know that tomorrow is not promised.  Eternity is our promise but tomorrow in these bodies on this earth is not.

Gene’s tomorrows stopped coming last Saturday, but I know with certainty, he has heard these words.

Well done, good and faithful servant.

I’m sure he has been put in charge of many things just like in the parable, but I think the words that Gene is enjoying the most are Come and share your Master’s happiness.

As you think of Gene today and in the coming days and weeks, think of the words of our Master.

Come and share your Master’s happiness.

I will rejoice for he has made me glad.


Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Way, the Truth, and the Life

Read John 14

Every Christian seems to love this sixth verse.

Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

We usually take it out of context and apply it to unbelievers, but before we begin, I hope you can see that this answer that Jesus gave to Thomas and to us is to believers, and perhaps to those truly seeking the truth.

Let’s jump backwards to chapter 8.  It begins with Jesus in the Temple Courts and the teachers of the law and the Pharisees bring a woman caught in adultery to him.  They want to see if he will comply with the Law of Moses and order her to be stoned. 

The law is the law, right?  What other choice did he have?

He could have dismissed the charge noting it takes two to tango and you brought only one.  The scripture says that she had been caught.  Her neighbors didn’t accuse her.  She was caught and that means there should have been a second party.

But Jesus does not take the legalistic and confrontational approach.  Instead he writes in the sand and says, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

You know the story.  Oldest to youngest, rocks start hitting the ground and Jesus asks the woman who is left to condemn her.  She says, “No one sir.”

Jesus sends her on her ways saying, “Neither do I.  Go and sin no more.”

It’s a powerful story not only about the mercy of God but about those entrenched in the letter of the law who had totally forsaken the Spirit of God.  This ploy didn’t work, but the religious hierarchy still wanted to get Jesus, so they launched another verbal attack upon his authority.

Who is this guy who testifies about himself?  He can’t do that.  It’s not valid!

Jesus continued that he knew exactly what he was testifying to and who sent him.  This time Jesus threw the law back at the law keepers, noting that the testimony of two is valid.  Jesus said that he was one and his Father makes two.

This led to the question, “Just where is your father?”

Jesus answered, “You don’t know me and you don’t know my Father.  Where I am going you can’t go.”

The Pharisees surely wanted to seize him, but his time had not come.  This was a very public place and if you didn’t have your ducks in order, your passion to kill this man wouldn’t be enough at least for now.

Jesus confronted these Jews with the truth that they just would not see.  Unless they believe Jesus is who he says he is, they will die in their sins. Ouch!

The discussion continued and the Pharisees claimed righteousness in being Abraham’s children but Jesus reminded them that if they were Abraham’s children, they would not being determined to kill a man who told them the truth.

Let’s jump back to our scripture from John 14.  We will skip healing the blind man in chapter 9, and the Good Shepherd in 10, and Lazarus being raised from the dead in 11.

Ok, we won’t skip everything in that chapter.  I just can’t skip over verse 25 and 26.

Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?

The intervening chapters get us to this very intimate time that Jesus spent with his followers before he went to the cross.

We have arrived back where we started.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that 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 that you also may be where I am.

We could take a rabbit trail down how this resembles a marriage proposal from ancient times, but that is for another day.  Today, let’s focus on the sentence that follows.

You know the way to the place where I am going.

Thomas answered, “We don’t know where you are going.”

Let’s think about this question and answer for just a moment.  Did Jesus say that you know where I am going?  No.  He did not.

He described his Father’s house and that he would prepare a place and come back and get these men when the time was right.  They couldn’t come now.

Thomas wanted the GPS coordinates, but Jesus told his followers that you know the way.

Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Jesus alone is the way to the Father.  Now understand that Jesus is talking to his own disciples.  He is talking to those who should have known.
These words that follow should be a little familiar.

If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.

Are these not the words that Jesus confronted the Pharisees and teachers with?  But, he is talking to his believers.  The one who would betray him has already departed to do his work.  He is talking to 11 men who followed him all over Judea, and Galilee, and even Samaria.  These were his disciples.

Listen to what he told them next.

From now on, you do know him and have seen him.
This is where Phillip jumped in.

Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.
I might paraphrase a bit here. 

Philip, where have you been the last three years.  Did you think that my teaching was something different that what the Father has to say?  Can you not see the Father living in me?

If you are that blind, at least consider the miracles that you have witnessed.  Those had to come from the Father.

I am in the Father and the Father is in me.  You have seen the Father!

Jesus continued telling Phillip and the others that they would do greater things than they had already witnessed if they kept their faith in him, if they continued in his way.  That should take us back to chapter 8 again.

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

If you keep reading in John, you find the promise of the Holy Spirit and directions to continue following what Jesus taught and commanded.  Among the things he commanded, remember this one without fail.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Understand that when Jesus said he was the way, the truth, and the life, he was speaking to his followers.  Those same words should speak to us now.

We don’t always seem to know the way.  Some days, things just seem really, really hard.  Sometimes we feel lost, not salvation lost, but navigating this world, lost.

The truth seems elusive.  Once upon a time there were two sides to every story.  Now, there are twenty-two sides to every story.  This truth that sets us free doesn’t seem to be out there, mainly because it’s not out there.

Sometimes, we even question this life.  Why am I alive?  Why am I here?  What’s up with this thing called life?  I have read The Purpose Driven Life and some other really cool books but life still has me befuddled.

We who have professed Jesus as Lord have a very direct answer.  Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  Jesus is how we know the Father.  Jesus will come and collect us when the time is right, and we have a place prepared especially for us.

These words are for believers.  If you have to beat someone over the head with a Bible verse about Jesus being the only way to salvation, use Acts 4:12.

But understand that Jesus being the way, the truth, and the life are words given to those who already believe.  If you keep reading in John, Jesus prayed to his Father and noted that these followers have already been cleaned by the word the Father gave Jesus.

Why is this important?  We need to use these words not as a sword but as a mirror or sometimes as an invitation to the one who is truly seeking meaning in his or her life.  But they are not a sword for us to swing.  We ask ourselves. 

Am I seeking the way?

Am I seeking the truth?

Am I seeking real life from the One who is the resurrection and the life?

Am I seeking the Kingdom of God and his righteousness before everything else?

Am I seeking the guidance of the Spirit of the Living God that is so readily available?  Do I try to navigate this world on my own?

Am I seeking the full biblical witness that has been given to me or do I compartmentalize and seek only the parts that don’t disrupt my comfort zone?

Am I inviting or discouraging others with these words.

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

He is talking to those who already believe.  He is talking to us.

Everything we need starts and ends with Jesus.  Through Jesus we know the Father.  Through Jesus, we receive the Holy Spirit.  Through Jesus God’s word speaks to us like never before.  When we are at a loss as to what to do or where to turn or if something seems too tough to handle, turn to Jesus.

The author of Hebrews put it this way.

Keep you eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith.

We have been talking about truth for some time now, but understand that we will not know truth apart from Jesus.  He is the only way to the Father.

He is the way, the truth, and the life.

Throw these words at an unbeliever and they are poorly translated subtitles on a foreign film.  These words are for us and for those hungry for the truth, and I remind us of that today because sometimes we lose track of that simple statement and insert our own ways, and our version of the truth, and our definition of life.

We end up entrenched in the own understanding part of Proverbs 3:5-6.

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  He is the only way we truly come to the Father.  We can look at creation and know there is a Creator.  We can read God’s word and follow his directions and do as well as the Pharisees.  

But Jesus is the only way to God the Father.  Let’s not be distracted.  Let’s not get cut off in our race.  Let’s press on towards the goal knowing this simple statement.

Sometimes the answers are just that simple.

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life!