Knowing the Way

Delivered January 26, 2003 by Rev. Mike Donohue,
with Search Ministries and Grace Fellowship.

Sermon Text:
John 14:1-7
1“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.
2In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told
you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And 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. 4You know the way to the place where I am going.”
5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going,
so how can we know the way?” 6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the
truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If
you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know
him and have seen him.”

Well it is great to be here, not for the least of which, this has really been a sweet time of worship. I have really been blessed by this service and hearing from all the different groups. Thank you; thank you for blessing my soul. But it is also great to be here because I think of you often. I have to because my office is literally right across the street, so as I sit at my desk every day, I see Central Presbyterian Church. With the church office right across the street and this has been a church that has a rich legacy with search ministries, in many ways Search coming to Baltimore was because of Central Presbyterian Church, and it still continues to bless me to this day. Greg Rittler, one of my advisory board members goes to this church with his wife, Elise and their kids and it continues to be a place of great blessing. My child goes to your preschool. So, it is great to finally be here and be with you all. Thank you for having me. Will you pray with me?

Lord, I thank you for our time of worship. I thank you that you have called us all to yourself and I thank you that it really is true that your kindness Lord is what leads us to repentance. Your love reaches into our hearts and grabs a hold of us. I pray that it would be that kindness and that mercy that would flow as we open up your word and we would see you again Lord, see you afresh, as we open these timeless words. Thank you Jesus. Thank you that you are here. Thank you that you want us to know you. It’s in your name we pray. Amen.

Search ministries is a ministry about questions. We are a ministry that reaches out to adults and helps them work through the questions and issues that are barriers and roadblocks to them in their relationship with God. And in doing a ministry like Search, I have come to appreciate honest questions. Because it’s those honest questions that I believe are the road map to life. And the passage that we are going to look at this morning, John Chapter 14, I believe we have such questions. See, all of our lives are filled with questions. We may have moments of clarity, but sooner or later the fog rolls in and you lose that job, you get bad news from the doctor, you don’t get into the school that you wanted to be in, the general malaise of life moves in and the fog of life begins to make us question and wonder. We all have moments in the fog and its what we do when we are in the fog that makes the difference. John, Chapter 14 I believe is one of those moments. You see, Jesus has just laid out in the preceding contexts in John Chapter 13, some pretty earth shattering truths for his followers. He begins to lay out to them for the first time that he is really going to die. And these men that have followed him and have trusted in him, have believed in him, begin to wonder what it is that they are going to do. And Peter in a knee jerk reaction says, “Lord, I will die with you.” And Jesus says, “Really Peter. Really.” Let me tell you something Peter, before the rooster crows, you will deny me. The fog is beginning to roll in. They are facing the loss of a leader. They are staring at the reality of death. They see their own character flaws. And it is in the midst of that fog that Jesus shines this ray of light. In Verse 1 he says, “Do not let your heart be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.” He goes on to say that, “In my Father’s house, there are many rooms; if it weren’t so, I would have told you and I go to prepare a place for you.” In the moment of fog, Jesus shines a ray of light, a reminder that they have a future and they have a hope. But you know it’s that ray of light that raises the important question. It’s the question that Thomas asks, because Thomas says, “Lord its great that you talk about our future, but we are here in the present and we don’t know the way. We don’t know the way. We don’t know how to get to where you’re talking about.”

You know last month during the Christmas shopping heyday, I went on a search and a quest for a present and I knew I had to go to a specific store and it was on Belair Road and so being particularly bold I said, well I know where Belair Road is, I will just drive up and down that road until I find it. That wasn’t a good idea, but being a man I never stopped and asked for directions. But the thing was I knew there was a store out there, what I needed was to know the way. That’s what I needed. I began to think as I was driving along Belair Road, I began to notice that there are two types of people on this road. This is the exact same road, but it looks different to each type of person. See the first type of person on the road is the one that knows the way. They may not be where they want to go, but they know the way they are going. And then there were people like me, who were on the road, but didn’t know the way. We don’t know the way, Jesus. That was Thomas’ question. Show us the way. It’s fine to talk about the future and the hope, but we are here now. I need something right now. And it’s in the midst of that question that Jesus answers and says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.” It’s a staggering claim really. Jesus isn’t just saying that he is one of several ways. He’s not saying that I know the way and I will teach it to you. He says, “I am the way. I am the way.” How could he make such a claim? How could he proclaim to be the way? I want to talk about that in the next few minutes that we have together. Because I think in John 14, Jesus unpacks for us and helps us see that to get from here to there, we don’t need a map, we don’t need lots of ideas, we need him because him and him alone, he and he alone can offer us what we long for.

The first thing that Jesus says is that I am the way, because I go to prepare a place for you. I go and prepare a place for you. See Jesus is unique among all religious leaders, all philosophers because he and he alone claims to prepare the place. See before sin entered the world, Adam had a three-fold privilege to God. He was connected to God. He knew him personally and he had spiritual life. After the fall, it’s those three things that are not true of us. We are no longer connected to God, we no longer know him personally and we no longer have spiritual life. You see, we have been separated from God. And the road needs to be built back for us. Jesus goes and prepares a place because we could not prepare the place ourselves. Jesus goes and prepares a place by doing what? By dying. By being the sinless sacrifice on our behalf, by doing the one thing that we could not do. Jesus did. And now the place is prepared for you.

I hate mayonnaise. And if you are a mayo hater, you understand this. You will probably go to a Super Bowl party this afternoon and a perfectly good cold cut sub will be ruined by what I call the assumption. And the assumption is this. That everyone in the world likes mayonnaise. So they will give you this sub and you will open it and you will say, “I can’t eat this. It has mayonnaise on it.” And they will say, “Well just wipe it off.” And true mayo haters know this; you can’t wipe it off, because here is what mayonnaise does. Even if you wipe the bread, it infiltrates the entire sub. If you are a mayo hater, you know what I am talking about. You know sin is like that. See, I am saying mayonnaise is sinful. I am actually saying more than that. Sin is like that. You see, you just can’t get your slate wiped. You can’t just clean up the top layer, you need a whole new sandwich. That is what Jesus has come to do.

2nd Corinthians 5:21, Paul says, “He made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” See all the other religions, all the other philosophies can basically be summed up by one word. D O do. Do this, do that, do this and you will find life. Jesus and Jesus alone can sum up his philosophy spelled D O N E, done. I go and I prepare a place for you. It’s not up to you and you’re not up to it. I needed to go ahead of you and prepare this place. See, I am the way because I do for you what you could not do for yourself. Jesus is the way, because he prepares a place. But Jesus is also the way because he and he alone offers us what we long for right now in the journey, and that is peace. Not only does he prepare a place, but he provides us with his peace.

One of the big questions that we all struggle with on this journey, on this road of life is are we going to make it. Are we going to make it? See when the fog begins to roll in; we don’t really know who to hold on to, do we? And we find ourselves hungering for peace. And we long for someone to come along and tell us, it’s going to be okay. Because all along the road of life, we face obstacles. We face barriers, we face things that we know we cannot overcome and we long for someone to provide us with the sense of peace. Jesus understood this and that’s why I believe later on in this passage, in Verse 27 he says to his disciples in the midst of this dialogue, he says, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you, do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” See Jesus understood peace. And it’s not the kind of peace that says, I am going to make sure that everything in life works out just fine for you. See, the man that is offering this peace, is a man who is facing a death sentence, just a few hours away. See he understood that if we are to find peace right now, we need something deeper than just life working out okay. Jesus says the peace I offer is not as the world gives. See, the world gives peace; it says find a trouble free life. Jesus gives peace that says find life in the midst of trouble. And that peace is this, what did Jesus have to offer that no one else could offer? The peace was this, that he was one with the father. Jesus offers the peace of a relationship. He offers the peace that comes from knowing the one who holds you. See, real peace comes when you understand someone bigger than you is holding on to you. When my kids are panicked, when my kids are nervous, when my kids are anxious, what brings them peace is not rationalizing with them and trying to explain away their fears. What brings them peace is holding on to them, because they know that someone bigger than them is holding on. “My peace I offer to you”, Jesus says. And you know that’s the exact peace you want, because that is peace for the here and now.

Last month during the Christmas heyday, I walked home one day from work and it was just pandemonium in my house. I had a stressful, anxiety driven day. I walked into my house and my kids are 5 and 3 and their definition of playing is to just take everything they have out and put it on the floor. And then when they are done that, get all the pillows and blankets and throw that on as well. I walk into my house, my house is mess, my wife is totally spent from Christmas stress, I am feeling the stress of work. I don’t know what to do; I walk all the way downstairs. The only quiet place I could find was my laundry room and I got down on my knees and I said, “Lord please give me peace.” And literally the whole time I am praying, my kids are upstairs yelling, “Dad, where are you? Dad?” That is my life. And that is life and that is not even illnesses and financial stress. That’s just everyday. Where do I find peace? Do I tell my kids to go away? Do I clean the house? Maybe. But the real peace comes when I realize someone bigger than me is holding my hand. See Jesus says, “My peace I offer to you.” It’s a different peace than the world, because my peace is one where you know the Father. See, when you are lost, you ask a whole different set of questions, don’t you? That’s the beauty of being lost. You start to hunger for something. You start to hunger for something that you didn’t even know you needed and what is that? You need to find the way. You need to find the one who can prepare a place for you. You need to find the one who can give you peace in the midst of the journey and that is someone named Jesus. See all the other religions can be spelled G O. Go and do this. Go and do that. Jesus and Jesus alone can say come. Come to me. All you who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.

Let’s pray. Jesus, thank you that you are the way. Thank you that all of us know what it feels like to be lost, but more importantly thank you that we can know what it feels like to be found by you. You are the way. You are the truth. You are the life and it’s in your name that we pray. Amen.