At the end of John 13, Jesus told His closest followers:
Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. (John 13:33 NLT)
Peter asked why. Why could he not go with Jesus? He was prepared to die for Jesus. This is when Jesus told Peter that, far from dying for Jesus, he would deny that he even knew Jesus.
These words troubled and perplexed the disciples. So, Jesus said to them:
Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going. (John 14:1-4 NLT)
We live in a troubled and perplexed world. Many claim to have the truth. The Muslim claims to have the truth spoken through the Prophet Mohammad. The Mormon claims to have the truth revealed through the prophet Joseph Smith. The humanist claims to have the truth revealed through science.
With all these conflicting voices, how can we be sure of our faith? Is Jesus just one voice among the crowd? Is He just another prophet or teacher? Over the next few weeks, I am going to be considering Jesus. I will be using some of the things He said about Himself, like “I am the bread of life.” The purpose of this series is to get to know Jesus better. In getting to know Jesus better, we will increase our faith and draw closer to Him.
We all must realize that each of us is at a different place in our faith and work to strengthen each other. Jesus called His disciples children. 1 John 2:12-14 address us as “children,” “young men,” and “fathers.” We can interpret these as stages of growth - childhood, younger adult and older adult. If we are going to grow, we must know Jesus. This is an opportunity for each of us to grow.
To His perplexed disciples, Jesus talked about His Father’s house. So, the first thing I want us to consider is “Who was Jesus talking about when He said, “My Father?”
Jesus spoke of His Father often. In a discussion with the Jewish leaders about who He was, Jesus said:
“If I want glory for myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who will glorify me. You say, ‘He is our God,'but you don’t even know him. I know him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But I do know him and obey him. Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” (John 8:54-56 NLT)
Jesus was talking to Jewish leaders and teachers. He said the one that they called their God is His Father. Therefore, when Jesus said, “My Father,” He was referring to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to “Yahweh” (Jehovah).
When Jesus said to his perplexed disciples, “Trust in God, trust also in me,” He puts Himself on equal terms with God. Later on, in John 14, He states “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”
We must realize the context of this statement. Jesus was with His disciples at night. Maybe there was a chill in the air and they had to put on extra clothes. Jesus was as human as any of them. He sweat when hot and shivered when chilled. He got hungry and tired, and yet He talked like this.
Jesus’ claims to be God show up repeatedly in the Gospel accounts. This is the first truth one must confront when considering Jesus. Saying He was a great teacher without acknowledging He is God, is nonsense. A great teacher who was merely human would never make such an outlandish claim. To change what Jesus said about Himself in any way, is to deny Jesus. It is to try to remake Jesus into what we want Him to be. This is extremely important. We are not free to make Jesus who we want Him to be. Jesus is a real person with real feelings, opinions and thoughts. Whatever we experience, think, believe and speak about Jesus needs to be consistent with what is recorded about Him in the history we have. We cannot invent the Jesus we want. We must submit to Him as God and subject our thinking and our faith to what He has shown us to be true about Himself, and that starts with the Bible.
The disciples lived with a very human Jesus who ate, walked, bathed and slept just like any of them. These disciples struggled to grasp the full meaning of what Jesus’ teachings meant. They often didn’t get it right and had to be corrected. We too must let ourselves be corrected by the Bible, the Word of God.
Jesus said, “There is more than enough room in my Father’s home.” He is speaking of the dwelling place of God and of things not of this present world. The minds of the disciples apparently were still on the idea that they could not go wherever it was He was going, and so, they didn’t get it. So, when Jesus said: “And you know the way to where I am going,” (John 14:4 NLT) it caused more than a little confusion. Thomas expressed what they were all thinking.
“No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5 NLT)
When we don’t get it, I hope we are bold enough to ask the Lord, and then seek for the answer in our Bibles.
Because he was bold enough to ask, Thomas got one of the most precious truths about Jesus that we could ever ask for:
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!” (John 14:6-7 NLT)
Do not stop with “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” This whole statement is worth more than all the gold this world contains.
Let’s review a little of what Jesus has said in this session with His disciples. He has said, “Trust in God, trust also in me.” He has referred to a dwelling place not of this world where He is going to prepare a place for His disciples. He said they knew the way to where He was going. Now, He is saying He is the way.
The word He used for “way” is “ὁδός” (hodos). This is the word for a road or a path, a highway or even a journey. The road or path came to be referred to as the manner in which something was to be obtained. We still use the word way with this meaning. Such as, the “way” to roast a chicken, or the “way” to skin a duck.
With this statement, Jesus makes it clear that He is the road to heaven.
Popular in this country is the idea that all roads lead to God, but Jesus makes it clear that He is the only road to God. He reinforces or reiterates this fact by giving three different words: the way, the truth, and the life. Then, to make sure He is not misunderstood He says, “No one can come to the Father except through me.”
Jesus affirms that life continues after the body dies, and tells us clearly how to get to where He is.
Attached to this idea of being the way, the truth and the life is His statement:
If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him! (John 14:7 NLT)
Here is displayed some of the meaning behind truth and life. “From now on, you do know him and have seen him!” Jesus has shown us the Father.
Questions like “Is there a God?” “What is God like?” and “Where do I find truth?” are all answered in the person of Jesus.
To see Jesus is to see the Father.
The disciples, who lived every day with a completely human Jesus, still did not grasp this fact even after three years. So, Philip said, “Show us the Father.”
Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? (John 14:9 NLT)
It is important for us to understand that the way to know the Father and the way to eternal life is through knowing Jesus.
To a perplexed world with many conflicting voices, Jesus says very clearly, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”
As Jesus explained this to His disciples He also said:
Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe 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 works themselves. (John 14:10-11 NIV)
Jesus tells us to believe. He tells us to trust Him. However, He does not tell us to do this blindly. In these verses, He is telling us to believe based on the evidence.
In today’s world, there are people who actually say that Jesus is a fictional character or myth. There are others who say we cannot trust the New Testament texts. I bring this up because it is important for us to know that our faith is built on solid evidence. Jesus told us to believe what He said and so we need to know that we have exactly what He said.
If we can know anything with certainty from History, we can know that we have the most reliable historical document on the planet in the Bible. The attacks on the Bible and the facts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection are only possible because of ignorance of the historical record. Although I don’t have the time today to go into any of this in-depth, I want to list how we can know Jesus through the texts that we have. I am going to list seven things.
- We have very early sources. All the New Testament documents were written before 70 A.D., and we have copies of manuscripts of these documents from within decades of Jesus’ life.
- We have the testimony of eyewitnesses. Eyewitness testimony is usually accepted as the best way to establish what actually happened.
- We have testimony from multiple, independent eye witnesses. True independent witnesses tell the same basic story but with differing details and this is exactly what we have.
- The eyewitnesses we have are trustworthy. Each one held to their story even though they were tortured and/or killed for their testimony.
- We have corroborating evidence from archaeology and other writers from that time period. There are other historical records besides just the New Testament.
- The enemies of Jesus and of the eyewitnesses admitted to or acknowledge facts, such as, Jesus’ death on the cross and the empty tomb.
- The New Testament authors included details that were embarrassing to themselves. They included things like their own cowardice in the garden and their slowness to understand and believe.
Much more could be said about fulfilled prophecy and the antiquity of the Old Testament text, but that would take many volumes and much time. However, what is important is that we all understand what the Apostle said:
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (2 Peter 1:16 ESV)
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” and He backed up this statement by His words and His works and finally by His resurrection.
Many of you are like me and have walked with Jesus many years, know Him and have great certainty in your faith. However, some of you may have questions, some of you may be in schools where your beliefs are questioned and you need to know that we are not following cleverly devised myths.
As we begin this series about Jesus, we can approach it with confidence. We can know Jesus through the record we have, and through the Spirit He gives us.
John said this about His record:
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— (1 John 1:1-2 ESV)
Do not be deceived. There is only one way to the Father - Jesus. If you would know Jesus, you must listen to those who knew Him best and recorded what they saw and heard. And you must do one more thing. I will let Jesus say it in His own words.
Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them. (John 14:21 NLT)