daily Broadcast

The Way, Part 1

From the series Jesus Is...

It has been said that the wonderful thing about knowing God is that there’s always more to know. In this program, Chip continues our series Jesus Is, identifying another name Christ used to describe His character and authority. Learn what Jesus meant when He called Himself the way and how this name impacts our faith journeys today.

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Message Transcript

If you don’t know where you’re going in the old days, I guess some people use this still. It’s called a compass. And then in the older, older days this is actually, it’s a vintage thing. It’s called a map. It is, it was used by a group of people in another era.

And what we want to talk about is this classic passage, in fact, I think perhaps the most controversial of all the things that Jesus said. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by Me.”

And I want you to know that this passage, although has a strong, clear apologetic application, Jesus didn’t share this as a theological construct. He shared it privately with His closest friends. And what He wanted them to know in the midst of fear and confusion and uncertainty and overwhelming anxiety, what is the way?

What I would like to do is I would like you to understand this passage and know, so, when did He say this? Where did He say this? And why did He say this?

And so, picking it up at the very beginning of John 13 it says, “It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that His time had come for Him to leave the world and to go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them,” this is the key, “the full extent of His love.”

The goal of this passage from beginning and we’ll see it at the end, Jesus is expressing the full extent of His love to people that He cares deeply about, who will be on their own very shortly.

Notice, “The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, that He had come from the Father, and was returning to the Father.” And then you have a little word if you look in your text, “So that…”

Now, notice in your notes, Jesus knew His time had come to leave the world and return to the Father. The goal is to show His disciples how much He loves them. And, third, He knew three vital things. This is so interesting. He knew where He came from, He knew exactly where He was going, and He was aware that all power had been given to Him. So, He’s not a victim of the cross. And now He is going to prepare His disciples and He wants to teach them the way and the life and the truth. And He is going to teach them that, not only by what He is going to say, but He’s going to help them connect all that He has done from the early time until later;

So, notice what He does in this critical moment. They are sitting around a very low table to have the Passover meal. And as they are sitting there, all their feet are dirty because each one of them walked by a big jar and there was no servant there. And each one of them privately said, “Well, I’m not going to wash everybody’s feet.”

And so, Jesus got up from the meal and took a towel and took off His outer clothing, and He wrapped a towel around His waist. And after that, He poured water into the basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to Him, ‘Lord, are You going to wash my feet?’ And Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing; later you will understand.’ ‘No,’ said Peter, ‘You shall never wash my feet.’ And Jesus said, ‘Unless I wash your feet, you have no part with Me.’ ‘Then, Lord,’ Simon Peter replied, ‘not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!’ And Jesus said, ‘A person who has been bathed needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean.’”

Don’t miss this because it keeps coming back around, “‘And you are clean, though not every one of you.’ For He knew who was going to betray Him, and that is why He said to them not every one of you is clean.”

And then He will say to them after He finished, “I, being your Lord and your Teacher, have washed your feet; wash one another’s feet. You will be blessed if you do this.”

Now, we want to jump to, “I am the way,” the road, the path, “I am truth and I am the life.” And the first thing He models is: What is the way to treat other people in horizontal relationships that is true and that brings life? Answer: Wash their feet. Put their needs ahead of your own. And when you give your life away to others, it brings life for you and life for the relationships.

Now, after He does that, a discussion. And the discussion is: He just said one of us is going to betray Him. We have been with Him about three, possibly three and a half years. And now they are at this table sitting around, looking at one another going: One of – is it him? Is it me? I wonder.

And so, Peter, being a bit of the leader, he kind of gives a nod over to John and says, you know, “Find out.” And so, John is next to Jesus. It’s a very low table, so you would kind of recline on some pillows. And from the text it would appear John is on His right and Judas is on His left or even perhaps, because we’re not sure, the text doesn’t say, but what we know is that if you sat at the right or the left of the teacher, it was a place of honor.

And so, He whispers, leaning back, “Jesus, which, which one? Who is it?” And Jesus says, “When I take this piece of bread, the person I give it to,” and He gives it to Judas. And Judas has been a deceiver and a hypocrite and stealing money all along.

And so, he takes the bread, he eats it, and it says Satan enters his heart. Jesus says, “Go do what you need to do quickly.” The other disciples think maybe he’s going on an errand, maybe he’s going to go feed the poor. And then at that moment He says, “Now,” now with a trusted group of friends, “the Father is going to be glorified and the Son, and the Son and the Father.” And He begins to describe this moment in time about the resurrection.

But here’s what I want you to get. This statement that, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” is more than a theological construct. What has He modeled for them? What is the way to respond to those who betray you that is the truth and that will bring life? Jesus obviously extends forgiveness. It’s not received. But it’s not just Judas. What we will find just a little bit later, He says to them near the end of the supper, “I am going to a place, but where I’m going you can’t come right now.” And Peter goes, “Well, wait a minute. Why can’t I come? Why can’t we come?”

And He says, “Peter, you don’t understand it right now, but you will understand it later.” And then Peter, with bravado goes, “I will die. I am with You. I am coming with You no matter what.” And, of course, many of you know the passage where He says, “Peter, before the rooster crows, you will have denied Me three times tonight.” Knowing that, how did Jesus treat Peter?

See, what He is going to say is, “I am the way,” and He is leading up to the final way. “I am the way to the Father.” I am the way to the Father because the issue of mankind, the big issue is their sin, it’s the human heart. It’s not external environment, it’s not philosophical systems. And because the human heart is the issue, forgiveness is the solution.

Love is more powerful than evil. And He is going to say and model: This is the way you treat those who have hurt you. You release them. You forgive them. It doesn’t mean there’s not consequences. It doesn’t mean that under control there aren’t some things you need to do to address the situation. For your soul the way to treat the people who have hurt you, who betray you, who wound you is to treat them the way Jesus has treated you.

Why? Because it’s true. And when you walk in the truth, you are free and it brings life to your soul.

Now He gets to the, not only the “what” and the “when” and the “where,” but as chapter 14 opens up, He is going to address the “why.” Why did He say, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”?

And you’ll notice in your notes, because the disciples are distraught, circle the word distraught. I chose that carefully. Rome is after them. They have already been kicked out of the synagogue. Peter has left his wife and family for significant seasons. The disciples have left their jobs, they are full-time in the ministry, they have put all their hopes on: You’re the Messiah and You’re leaving? You’re what?

They are anxious, they are fearful, confused. Everything is uncertain. And they are deeply troubled. And so, what Jesus is about to say is to address their emotions, to calm their fears, and to show them the way and the truth and the life when you are anxious and fearful and confused and when you have no idea what is around the corner.

And so, this is what Jesus says to them. Notice in your notes, Jesus confronts their emotions and their emotional trauma with a command. Commands don’t always have to be harsh. Literally, as they are feeling all of this and Peter has made this big deal about: I’ll be with You. I’ll never desert You.

I think he was sincere as he could be. And I think many of us are as sincere as we can be. This is what I really believe. This is what really matters. You don’t know what you believe until it’s tested. And when Peter’s is tested, he fails miserably. And he meets a God who models forgiveness and restoration.

But He commands them this, “You believe in God,” right? All these, all these young disciples, they were followers of Yahweh. I mean, these are good Jewish boys. “You believe in God.” “Yes.” “Believe also in Me.” “You trust God?” “Yes.” “Trust Me.”

And then He gives them six promises about why they can trust Him. Notice what the text says. He says, “In My Father’s house are many rooms; and if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and I will take you to be with Me, that you may be also where I am. You know,” here’s our word, “the way to the place where I am going.”

And I love Thomas. He said to Him, “Lord, we don’t know where You’re going, so how can we know the way?” And Jesus answers, “I am the way and the truth and the life. And no one comes to the Father except through Me. If,” this is the part we don’t read, “if you really knew Me, you would know My Father as well.”

And notice these six promises. Look at your notes. He says, “In My Father’s house,” literally, there’s many residents. It’s a picture of the, sort of, the patriarch and they would often as, the multiple children, they would get married and their families, they might make sort of a U or even a circle and then the father’s house, He is saying: Just like how you all do life, you’re going to have a place that is specifically made for you so you can have intimacy with the Father.

He says: the way to the Father is Me. And then notice He goes on. He says, “I go to prepare a place for you.”

Well, the groom in the Ancient Near East in preparing for a wedding, he would propose, there would be a season of betrothal, often six months or maybe even a year. And then the groom’s job was to go prepare a home for he and his wife.

So, Jesus, these Jewish boys are starting to pick up: So, You’re actually preparing a special place for us. And if you were preparing a place for your wife, you wouldn’t prepare it for some woman. You would prepare it for your wife, what they would need, what she would like, what is made special.

And He is beginning to help them see, your anxiety and your fear and your confusion and your uncertainty. What He’s driving a stake and saying: There is hope. I will come back again for you, third promise, I will receive you to Myself, I am not going away forever. Because here’s the goal. Where I am, you’re going to be. But it’s future. And, by the way, you do know the way where I’m going. Everything I have taught - everything! My life - I came to explain the Father. I am the path, I am the road. And so, then we get this great line where Thomas says, “We don’t know the way.” And Jesus explains, “The Father and I are one essence.”

Let me pick up the text and just listen to what He says and the flow of the text. And what I want you to get is He takes them from the fear to the future hope. And then He begins to talk about, well, how is life going to work now that I am physically going to be gone?

Someday, someway their minds are spinning. Okay, You’re coming back, You love us, You’re not going to forsake us. But how is life going to work? What is the way that life is going to work when You’re not here?

Because the way it works now is You. And the truth is You. And what we all have experienced is the peace and the joy and the life. We have believed You are the Messiah. And now You’re throwing all these curveballs and we don’t really know how it’s going to play.

And so, He goes on and says to them, “From now on you do know Him and you have seen Him.” And so, Philip says, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” And Jesus answered, “Don’t you know, Philip, that even after I have been among you for such a long time, anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father? How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

And then notice this, this is so key to Jesus. His relationship with the Father is the model for our relationship with Him and the Father. It always comes back to His Word. He says, “The words I say to you are not My own. Rather, it is the Father, living in Me, who is doing His work. Believe Me when I say I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works or the miracles themselves.”

And then He talks about the future. “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do even greater works than I have done. I am going to the Father and whatever you ask in My name, I will give to you so the Son may bring glory to the Father. You can ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it.” Do you see the hope?

I am going to be gone, I’m a conduit, you have access directly to the Father and it’s going to be through Me. And then He says: Here’s the key. Here’s the condition. If you love Me, you will obey My commandments. And don’t think love is a feeling. Love, in the New Testament, love largely in the Bible, is a matter of loyalty. It’s not a matter of my experiential feelings, although I sure love those and we want good ones.

But He says, “If you love Me, if you are loyal to Me,” not loyal to yourself, not loyal to others, not loyal to the world system, “you will obey My commandments.” Result, “And I will ask the Father and He will give you another counselor to be with you,” how long? Look at your Bible. Another counselor, the Holy Spirit. “He will be with you - forever.”