Thursday, January 17, 2013


Have you ever found yourself with more questions than answers? Questions like these: What am I supposed to do with this? How did I get here? Where am I going? What is my purpose? What do I want to do with my life?  What’s the point in all of this? You know, the basic questions of life.

Jesus answers all of these questions in just a few simple words. He makes some cryptic claim to his followers, that when understood, sheds light on the basic questions of life.

He says these 7 things:
1.       I am the bread of life
2.       I am the light of the world
3.       I am the door
4.       I am the good shepherd
5.       I am the resurrection and the life
6.       I am the way, the truth, and the life
7.       I am the true vine
Let’s star t with the whole idea of the "I am." This goes all the way back to the Old Testament when Moses asks God who He is and God responds by saying “I am that I am!” In laymen’s terms God says what difference does it make? You are talking to a burning bush that isn’t being consumed, and unless I’m mistaken (which I’m not ‘cause I’m God) this has never happened before and probably won’t happen again. So he says to Moses, unless you’ve been smokin’ a little bush yourself (thanks Jim Gaffigan), I suggest you listen and take note for the simple fact that I’m God which means that you are not.

The biggest realization Jesus wants us to come to about these "I am" claims, if true, is that they put Jesus on a level playing field with God the father. And they therefore validate everything, and I mean everything, Jesus did and taught.

Now we jump ahead. We get to the book of John, one of the four Synoptic Gospels, that tell the story of Jesus. We pick up a story with Jesus kind of clarifying what it means not only that God is the “I am,” but that He is the “I am” revealed in human form. And in this book Jesus gives us the 7 clarifying statements above, or word pictures if you will, as to the essence of God. Jesus tells us that if He is the “I am,” which He is, then here are a few things you should know.

I would like to pick up on the sixth “I am” statement Jesus makes--the one we discussed in church recently. This statement is found at the end of John 14:1-5:

"Don’t be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know where I am going and how to get there."

"No, we don’t know Lord," Thomas said, "We haven’t any idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?"

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

Seems pretty simple right? Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. We can all stop reading now right? If you’re anything like me, that sounds good; but he may as well be speaking a foreign language. I got it--you have the answers and I don’t; but what am I supposed to do with that? How does this help me?

The first thing we need to understand is that Jesus is making this statement in the midst of his discussion about betrayal and crucifixion. This means these 12 men that have learned from, followed, and lived with Jesus the past several years are discovering He will not be with them soon. They are confused and disappointed and Jesus gives them some cryptic message that is supposed to both offer guidance and comfort them. Just beneath the surface, is the assurance that if they keep their sights set on him, they will know where to go, what to do, and how to do it, in the proper time.
The next thing I want you to notice here is the language Jesus uses. He doesn’t say I know the way or I am a way. He doesn’t claim to know the truth. He doesn’t claim to live a good life. What does he say? He says "I am the way, I am the truth, and I am the life." There is a very important differentiation between knowing the way and being the way; between knowing the truth and being the truth; between living the life and being the life. Do you know anyone else that can make a claim like this?
Without further ado, lets dig into this.

Suppose you were in a new town and you were trying to find some place. What would be the logical thing to do (assuming you don’t have GPS)? The logical approach would be to ask for directions (unless you’re a guy of course—then you just use your manly navigational techniques and figure it out yourself, all the while pretending you know exactly where you are; making claims you are just taking the scenic route). So you stop and ask someone how to get to Best Buy. They give you a series of directions, street names, and usually if they are female, some landmarks--across the street from the salon. Which does me no good since I don't go to the salon. You start driving and half way there, realize you have no clue where you are. You are lost. Now what? 
This is where Jesus comes in.  He says, "I’m not gonna be that guy. I’m not just going to give you directions and hope you can find your way. I’m going to physically take you there. I will be with you as you maneuver the traffic, avoid the potholes, and navigate the detours. When you have questions I’ll be there to answer them (maybe—if I so deem necessary). I will warn you of the bumps and dips in the road. No matter how far off course you may get, I will never leave you ‘nor forsake you. I will be right by your side. And when you lose focus, get lost, and make a mess of things, all that is required is you turn to me."


Right now, our culture is often referred to as having a ‘post-modern’ mindset. The term 'post-modern' refers to the fact that culture doesn't readily believe there is truth to be found! But, if you feel there is you should realize it's only relative--what is true for you may or may not be true for me. So, don’t go telling me what I should do or how I should live. And especially don’t tell me that some book written over 2,000 years ago has the answers to life. The only truth I am going to believe is my truth. The only person I am going to answer to is myself. If you look close enough, there were even people in Jesus day who followed this same line of thought. Pilate is a prime example of this, standing face to face with the truth, asking "What is truth?" And then there are the people who claim to have the truth, but it is obvious they must not wholeheartedly believe it to be true themselves. They promote their truth, all the while acting entirely contrary to what they have proclaimed. It's kind of like your parents telling you to "Do as I say, not as I do." How are we supposed to make sense with such a convoluted idea of truth?

The good news is that Jesus has already addressed this with the second part of this "I am" statement. He says "Let me clear some things up. People will try to deceive you. They might even make some reasonable arguments as to why this or that is true. But, if they are not rooted in me, they will more than likely be wrong. Instead of listening to them, look to me. Not only have I told you the truth, but I have actually been living it out. And let me take this whole thing one step further. The only truth will point back to me, because I am the truth. There is nothing more true than me. When you need answers, stop turning to talk show gurus, quit looking in self-help books, don't call your friends and family. Seek me, because that is where the truth you are looking for will ultimately be found. I am who I said I was. I haven't asked you to do anything I haven't done myself. I'm all the truth you need!" That is something not just anyone can say.


There are so many different avenues we can walk down looking for life. There's always relationships   that offer to bring meaning to life. Maybe you're a lone ranger and that isn't your thing. In that case you can pour yourself into a career--looking for fulfillment and meaning in climbing the corporate ladder. Or maybe you go to church and take it to the other extreme. Instead of the pursuit of happiness, you have thrown aside everything in pursuit of life after death. But these all have a common denominator--they are not rooted in Christ.

So, here we have Jesus concluding this "I am" statement with a remarkable truth. In the midst of the life we are all pursuing, Jesus offers something better and far more significant. He says "I'm not calling you to forget the here and now in pursuit of some future, other-world life that awaits. I'm not simply calling you to a life in which your world view is altered. Rather, the ever-reaching life I offer begins today. This life requires that you come to this realization--the very breath of God resides within you. With that in mind, you are to pursue what really matters. Follow my example and you will find a life worth living. Anything else that claims to offer you life is lacking at best--it will lead you to disappointment and let down. Nothing offers life like I do. I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly. You can be sure this isn’t an empty promise."

Somewhere, I read that "You walk the way of Jesus, by knowing the truth of Jesus, which happens through living the life of Jesus." To think, I could have lead with that and saved you all this reading.

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