Sunday 17th January 2020

John 14:1-14

‘I am the way and the truth and the life’.

There is no shortage of ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ around at the moment:

  • Do stay at home, do wear a face covering, do keep your distance, do wash your hands regularly…
  • Don’t be out and about if you don’t need to be, don’t put others in danger, don’t meet in groups of more than…
  • Our list of dos and don’ts for January 2021 – check out ni.gov for all the details – and they are many! But hopefully and prayerfully that list won’t be with us for longer than necessary…

Today, we focus on one of the Bible’s great ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ texts – instructions from Jesus Himself as He gives us something to do and something not to do…but on the lips of Jesus this is not advice for the short or even medium-term, these are words of life, words to live by…

Before we dip into the Bible text, let’s pray together: Heavenly Father, Once again we are thankful for this opportunity to ponder and reflect upon Your precious Word. Guide us by Your Spirit we pray and may we each be open to all You would say to us, and all to Your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Over the last few weeks, we have been focusing on some of Jesus’ great ‘I Am’ sayings from the Gospel of John. Sayings that teach of who Jesus is and what that means for those who would follow Him. So far, we’ve focused on, ‘I am the Bread of Life’ (John 6) and ‘I am the Good Shepherd’ (John 10). Today, we ponder words from John Chapter 14, here a triple, ‘I am’, as Jesus declares, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life’.

The context for John 14 is late in Jesus’ ministry – time is very short now and the shadow of the Cross looms large. Jesus is in the Upper Room with His disciples and they have shared a final meal together. Up to this time, Jesus has spoken on multiple occasions about what must happen: He will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes and they will condemn Him to death. Here again He speaks of these things, giving His disciples the shocking news that one of their number will betray Him and also the thunderbolt of Peter’s soon-to-come denials. Jesus’ words, and indeed the whole occasion, has completely unsettled the disciples and they are greatly troubled and afraid…So, what does Jesus do? What does Jesus say? He speaks to them of dos and don’ts that will make all the difference, He reminds them of who He is and the difference that makes, He showers them with encouragement and promises about the future…tranquil words for troubled hearts…exactly what the disciples needed to hear…

The disciples were unsettled, troubled and even afraid.  Today, January 2021, any of us might find ourselves, like the disciples, more than unsettled. The daily news is not good to say the least, and so Jesus words, these tranquil, calming, reassuring and promise-filled words of John 14, are also just what we need to hear…

So, Jesus dos and don’ts for troubled hearts, but not necessarily in that order because I’m starting with the don’t! And it’s simply this: Jesus said, ‘Do not, don’t, let your hearts be troubled’. (John 14:1) Jesus knows all about troubled hearts – He had times when He was, and would be, troubled Himself – at the death of His friend Lazarus; as He contemplated betrayal by one of His own; and there was still the Garden of Gethsemane to come…Jesus knows all about troubled hearts, but He says, ‘Don’t…don’t let your hearts be troubled…’

And then comes the ‘do’. If not anxiety, then what? What’s the answer? It couldn’t be simpler, the answer is – trust – as in His very next words Jesus adds, ‘Trust in God, trust also in me…’

  • Don’t be troubled…
  • Do trust…

Today, it can be particularly challenging when it comes to exactly where and in whom and what to put our trust.

  • Should we trust our leaders and politicians?
  • Should we trust in all the science we are bombarded with during this pandemic?
  • Can we trust in the vaccine? Will it work?

Trust can be a challenging subject, but not when it comes to Jesus. When it comes to Jesus you can put your trust in Him, have no doubt about that. And John Chapter 14 tells us why – you can trust Jesus because He is the way, He is the truth, He is the life. Let’s take those one at a time –

DON’T LET YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED – TRUST IN JESUS – BECAUSE HE IS THE WAY

The very first Christians were known as people of ‘the way’. People who had trusted their lives to Jesus, the Risen Christ, and followed His way, His path, through His example and His Word. When you put your trust in Jesus as Your Saviour and Lord, you are not only, like those first believers, on the right path, you have the best Companion you could ever have and He will guide your footsteps…the 23rd Psalm puts it beautifully, we read this earlier as part of our call to worship: ‘He leads me beside the quiet waters, he restores my soul…even though I walk through the valley of the shadow itself, you are with me…’ That’s Jesus; that’s the One who is the way…

DON’T LET YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED – TRUST IN JESUS – BECAUSE HE IS THE WAY

DON’T LET YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED – TRUST IN JESUS – BECAUSE HE IS THE TRUTH

Not long after Jesus spoke these words, Pilate, on questioning Jesus at His trial would famously ask, ‘What is truth?’ (John 18:38). Good question! It’s a pity Pilate couldn’t literally see the truth right before his eyes – Jesus Himself. Jesus is the truth and that means you can take Jesus’ words to heart because you know, you can be certain, they are true. Words like:

  • Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.’ Matthew 11:28
  • Bring your burdens and anxiety to Jesus – He alone can give you true rest and peace in your very soul.
  • ‘Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness.’ John 8:12
  • Following Jesus, you will always have a light for the way…
  • ‘If you hold on to my teaching you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.’ John 8:32
  • The true freedom that comes from living Jesus’ way…

Think of your favourite promises of Jesus, go over them in your heart, and rejoice for those words are the truth on the lips of One who IS the truth.

DON’T LET YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED – TRUST IN JESUS – BECAUSE HE IS THE WAY

DON’T LET YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED – TRUST IN JESUS – BECAUSE HE IS THE TRUTH

DON’T LET YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED – TRUST IN JESUS -BECAUSE HE IS THE LIFE

Words concerning Jesus as the life are scattered throughout the Gospel of John.

  • ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.’ John 3:16
  • The promise that through believing, through trusting, life now and always can be yours…
  • ‘ I have come that they may have life and have it to the full’. John 10:10
  • Life at its very best in Jesus…
  • ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.’ John 11:25-26
  • This wonderful promise first spoken by Jesus to His friend Martha…
  • And these words from the conclusion of John’s Gospel, ‘These things [the gospel record] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name’. John 20:31
  • The purpose of the Gospel – believing and new life…

JESUS IS THE LIFE – That means we not only find life at its very best through following Him in the here and now; it means we are promised eternal life with Him now and always, that place prepared for us by Jesus Himself… Again the 23rd Psalm captures it perfectly:

Surely goodness and love and mercy and blessing shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.’ What a promise for God’s people!

DON’T LET YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED – TRUST IN JESUS – BECAUSE HE IS THE WAY

DON’T LET YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED – TRUST IN JESUS – BECAUSE HE IS THE TRUTH

DON’T LET YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED – TRUST IN JESUS – BECAUSE HE IS THE LIFE

But also, don’t forget: this same Jesus, the One who declared, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’, would Himself, not long after He said this, be deeply troubled, know a level of anguish we can barely begin to fathom, would be betrayed, arrested, denied, laughed at, beaten, mocked and crucified…Jesus would willingly lay down His life, that you and I may have new life now and always…

Dos and don’ts – There are so many dos and don’ts around at this time of pandemic- and rightly so, for we need to look after ourselves and others. And we pray these days will soon pass and face-coverings and social-distancing will be no more than a distant memory. But the dos and don’ts of Jesus, these are indeed words to live by, words to share, words to pray over, words to be thankful for, thankful to the One who is the way, and the truth and the life. Amen