Simply click on the appropriate sermon series below. Within that series you will find individual sermons which you can review.


I Am the Way and the Truth and the Life
Series: The Gospel of John
Leader: Rev. David Thomas
Scripture: John 13:31 -14:7
Date: Aug 28th, 2022
There are no audio or video file uploads at this time

“I don’t like goodbyes,” said Serena Williams upon announcing her impending retirement a few weeks ago in Toronto.  The next day though, she did get a chance to say goodbye to the crowd in Sobey’s Stadium.  I wonder how you feel about goodbyes.  Some say they don’t like them.  Some don’t like them to the point where they avoid them altogether.  Have you heard of the Irish goodbye?  It’s no goodbye!  You know I am a strong believer in the value of a good greeting.  I am also a strong believer in the value of a good goodbye and farewell and all the things we want for one another when we are taking our leave.

Jesus is saying goodbye here.  Jesus’ goodbye goes from chapter 14 through to chapter 17.  We’ve been saying throughout this series (which is almost over now) that it is of vital importance for us to look at the situations in which these “I am” statements of Jesus are spoken.  The same holds true here.  Jesus is about to be arrested and killed.  He will be raised and will ascend.  His return is promised.  His disciples will live in this in-between time.  This is the time in which we live.  Jesus is saying goodbye, but the story is not over.  Jesus is saying goodbye, but this is not the end.  In light of the birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension and promised return of Jesus, for the Christian, nothing is ever the end.

This, to me, is a most comforting truth.  I live in that truth, and when I say “that truth,” I’m not talking about a proposition that someone has made to which I have agreed, I’m talking about Jesus.  The truth.  More on that later, though.  We’re still dealing with introductory matters here.  I’m talking about comfort, and comfort is what Jesus is giving in our passage.  It’s vital to keep this in mind.  We need comforting, don’t we?  I do.  I love this truth that means that for the one who follows Christ, nothing is ever the end.  No goodbye need to be final.  Jesus is speaking words of comfort.  At the same time, these words of Jesus speak of an exclusivity.  I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father but through me.  How can Jesus make such a claim?  How can we make such a claim, surrounded as we are by a plurality of belief systems and all the things that claim to bring life?  Isn’t this arrogant?  I believe it can be, but I don’t think that’s any reason to reject Jesus’ words here.  More on that later, though, because what I really want to focus on here is the comfort that Jesus is speaking here.  Look at the situation.  Someone has said, “Jesus did not hurl this Christoexclusive text into the face of the world (to taunt it), but he gave it to his disciples (to encourage them).”

We don’t like goodbyes, and separation is troubling.  Jesus and the disciples are going to be separated.  The word for troubled hearts here has been used to describe Jesus at the tomb of his friend Lazarus. “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit, and deeply moved.” (11:33)  It’s been used to describe Jesus as he speaks about his own death – “’Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.” (12:27) It’s been used to describe Jesus as he talks about the one who would betray him – “After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, ‘Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.’” (13:21)  Death.  Separation.  Betrayal.  A rift in relationship.  I believe that we’re in a bit of a crisis of relationship right now, in society in general and in the church.  I mean, I think we’ve forgotten in some ways how to live in loving relation with one another (or in some cases even civil relation).  It might just be me, but I don’t think so.  I pray that God brings us out of it.  On top of this, we have Jesus’ words to Peter.  “Oh, and also, Peter, you’re going to deny me three times before the sun comes up.” In these words, we’re confronted by our own faithlessness.

This is the bad news.  Here comes the good news from the very one who embodies Good News.  Do not let your hearts be troubled.  The singular “heart” here, like Jesus, is talking about our communal heart.  Our communal heart can be troubled by all these things, can’t it?  Do not let your heart be troubled.  Now, normally, this kind of advice is fairly useless.  It would be like telling someone to calm down (does that ever work?).  Don’t be nervous.  Don’t be anxious.  Don’t be shattered.  Don’t be…  This is Jesus, however, and look at what he says next.  Don’t stop believing.  Don’t stop trusting.  “Believe in God, believe also in me.”   “Trust in God, trust also in me.” 

To follow Jesus is to live at the borderline of the already and the not yet of the kingdom of God.  It is to live between who we are in Christ and who we are becoming in Christ – who we will become in Christ.  Jesus is telling his followers that they can’t trust their colleagues completely, and we understand that.  We can’t even trust ourselves completely.  Remember the living God in whom you trust and remember his Son in whom you trust.  The solution to a troubled heart in the church is a stirring up of our heart, a renewal of our heart in trust.  We are not to call forth this trust on our own.  It is to know that while Jesus is physically absent, the Spirit of God has made him present in a whole new way.  It is to be attentive to Jesus’ words and come back to them often and meaningfully in a community of faith which lives in a posture of worship of the one who is our shepherd, our door, our bread of life, our light, resurrection and life.  Believe in God, believe also in me.  Trust in God, trust also in me.  Stick with us.  Hang on to the Word and the community of the Word, and troubled hearts will be soothed. 

“In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places.”  There are many rooms in my Father’s house.  There is room for everyone.  Jesus used the phrase “my father’s house” earlier in John to talk about the Temple in Jerusalem.  Known as the place where heaven and earth met.  At the renewal of all things, heaven and earth will meet in an entirely new way, and there will be room for everyone.  “If it were not so,” Jesus says, “would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.”  We have this image of life in Jesus and Jesus in us as life lived in God’s house.  Life that we look forward to and life that we experience now.  We’ll talk more about this image next week when we look at abiding/remaining/living in the true vine (the last of the “I am” statements in John 15).

So that where I am, there you may be also.  Life in communion with God.  Life of the ages.  Life everlasting.  Wonderful!

I have to say that I can identify with Thomas in this cartoon.  Sharing the same name I feel that he’s been unfairly saddled with the title “Doubting Thomas.”  One thing about Thomas, though, he had the courage to voice his apprehensions/questions/doubts, and he lived in a community of faith in which he felt comfortable voicing them.  I think this is a good thing.  “You know the way to the place where I am going,” says Jesus.  In other words, you know me.  Thomas, like many people throughout the Gospel of John, takes Jesus quite literally here – “Lord, we do not know where you are going.  How can we know the way?”

If Thomas had never asked the question we never would have had this wonderful reply.  “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”  Someone has said that the East has longed for the way (the tao), the West has longed for the truth (veritas), and the whole world has longed for life. 

American theologian/missionary/professor F.Dale Bruner put it like this -  “Jesus is, in person, all three. His person, life, teaching, deeds, Death, and Resurrection show us “the Way” to the Truth of the living God; his reality, historicity, and depth give us the solid assurance that his Way is the true Way, “the Truth”; and his energy, supplied by his Holy Spirit, gives us “the Life” and power to believe this Truth to walk this Way. The Way, the Truth, and the Life are not three abstractions in John’s Gospel; they are a single Person. This Person, Jesus, is the wonderfully focusing, simplifying, and centring revelation of God Almighty. In Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Man, we have everything that we human beings need in order to make sense of and to give motivation for, a life worth living. We are in great debt.”

To be on the way is to know truth and to have life.  Catherine of Sienna wrote, “All the way to heaven is heaven because Jesus said ‘I am the way.’”  All the way to heaven is heaven.  Truth is not something we possess.  Truth is not something we claim for ourselves or wield as a weapon over others.  Truth is a person, reconciling the world to God in grace-filled, self-giving love.  To know the truth is to know Jesus and follow in his way, which means life in the Father’s house.  It is to know God in the only way that anyone can be really known – by love.  To live in the way and the truth and the life is to be given the task of telling and showing the one in whom God has reconciled all things to himself.

The one who said, “No one comes to the Father except through me.”  What do we do with this?  The first thing I’m reminded of is that these words are offered as words of comfort to Jesus’ followers, not as an argumentative stick with which to beat others.  Do we believe these words of Jesus?  Are they arrogant or even intolerant for the age and culture in which we live?  This is out of the context of our story, but it bears some attention.  Traditionally there have been three ways to look at this question “Is Jesus the only way?”  The first is an exclusivism which believes there is salvation only for followers of Christ.  Here’s a line which illustrates this belief in the context of the church’s mission – “If more than a billion people today are headed toward a Christless eternity and have not heard the gospel, then we don’t have time to waste our lives on the American dream.”  Pluralism holds that all roads lead to the same place when it comes to religion or belief systems.  Inclusivism holds that God is present in other faiths to save people through Christ.  I’m not really one for labels or models, and each of these is problematic for me.  Exclusivism puts limits around the mercy of God, which I am loath to do.  Pluralism discounts sincerely held faith commitments and essentially says they don’t matter.  Inclusivism seems like a mushy middle way that could make us feel that there is no need to share our faith.  For myself, there is truth to be found in all three labels.  I am exclusivist in believing in faith, and by grace, Christ is the only way to God.  I am pluralist in believing that this good news is for all people.  I am inclusivist in not discounting how the mercy of God may be known in ways that are unexpected or unforeseen.  I will not discount the mercy of God when it comes to people who haven’t heard the good news or have had it told to them in damaging ways.  At the same time, we are called as Christ’s followers to make the invitation to life in Christ known to all. 

Speaking of damaging ways, is the message of no one coming to the Father but by Jesus arrogant or intolerant?  It can be.  Look at a practice like forced conversion as it was practiced in Spain with the Edict of Expulsion of 1492.  The edict for Spanish Jews was convert, depart, or die.  We have twisted it up.  Stories are told of forced conversions at residential schools along with everything else that went on.  We can take the words of Jesus and turn them into our own arrogance, intolerance, and abuse.     So may our sharing of the good news in word and deed be done in love and in service to others, and with humility.  Let us remember who is speaking these words.  The way, the truth, and the life are Jesus.  Jesus brought life.  Jesus healed. Jesus provided.  Jesus washed his disciples’ feet.  Jesus welcomed the unwelcome, the other – all on his way to give his life as the shepherd of the sheep.  May all our talk and action as Jesus’ followers be reflective of him as the way, the truth, the life.  May all our talk and action be reflective of his love, service, and sacrifice.  May this be true for all of us. Amen