Monday, May 23, 2011

The Way, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Life

T 5th Sunday of Easter T
Text: John 14:1-14

In the Name of the Father and of the T Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

            King David was a witness to Jesus’ death and resurrection long before it happened.  Like Moses, He looked forward to Jesus’ day and rejoiced in Him.  It’s not just one verse here or there: Psalm 22 on Good Friday or Psalm 23 for the Good Shepherd; if we take Jesus’ Word about the OT seriously, it’s the whole thing.  Especially Psalm 119, where David writes:
            “Your Word is a Lamp to my feet and the Light to my Path” (Ps. 119: 105).  He could have just as easily written: Your Jesus is the Jesus to my feet and the Jesus to my Jesus.  At least that’s how John sees it – and how Jesus wants you to see it too.  Your Sunday school teacher was right all along…it really is all about Jesus. 
            It’s not the spiritual equivalent of build-a-bear: wise-teacher Jesus, world-peace Jesus, buddy or homeboy Jesus, or CEO Jesus.  No, none of that will do.  You need a Crucified and Risen Jesus who suffered and died for you even though you deny him like Peter, doubt him like Thomas, or follow your own way like Philip.  Jesus is the Way, for there is no other way.  Jesus is the Truth – not your own personal truth, but the Truth that defines the very word.  Jesus is the Life – and your life is entirely wrapped up in His death and resurrection from the grave through Baptism.
            This is the kind of Savior you have in Jesus.  And you don’t have to go far to find Him.  He is revealed in the water and the Word, in the body and the blood, in the Scriptures.  He is the Word made flesh, the Light of the World, the true Vine, the Resurrection and the Life, the Good Shepherd, the Door, the Lamb of God, the Bread of Life; and in today’s reading, He is the Way, the Truth, the Life.  He is all of this, FOR YOU.
            And all that He is points to His cross.  The great confluence of the Old and New Testament; the very hour for which Jesus was sent.  The way to the Father is paved by His Only-Begotten Cornerstone; everything is filtered through bloodstained Good-Friday-glory goggles.  That’s God’s idea of glory; that’s the manner in which He loves you – a throbbing painful, suffering, bleeding and dying-for-you, kind of love.
            And so from the first to the last chapter of John – God’s faithful witness and testimony about His own Son – is made known, revealed, proclaimed, The Truth is:
Jn. 1 – Moses cannot get you into the Promised Land, for that you need a Joshua, a Yeshua, Jesus, full of grace and truth.
Jn. 3 – The Truth is that the Son of Man must be lifted up on the tree of the cross.  And the Kingdom of God comes to you and Nicodemus by Water and Spirit.
Jn. 4 – True worship is found at the feet of Christ Crucified.
Jn. 7 – Jesus speaks with authority and truth, just as He is sent by the Father.
Jn. 8 – When you hear Jesus’ you hear the Father, you hear truth. 
Jn. 16 – Jesus sends His Spirit.  Where there’s Jesus, there’s the Spirit of Truth.
Jn. 19 – John’s entire testimony about Jesus is true.
            Notice a pattern here?  Jesus is the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. These things are written that you – his disciples, from the upper room to Huntington Beach - may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His Name.    
            So, there’s Thomas and Philip.  Thomas asks the question that He should’ve known the answer to all along: “Lord, where are you going?  How can we know the way?
            And Philip wants some further witness to everything Jesus has said.  “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough.”  Both men reveal their unbelief.  Even though Thomas wants to know the way, he is clearly lost.  And Philip is blind.  “Lord, Show us the Father.”  There’s the great irony: he was already seeing the Father.  “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know Me, Philip?  Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.”  That is the great sadness: he didn't believe it.
                        What God has done and is doing is more than sufficient. It is sufficient for Phillip's sins, for his doubts and worries and concerns, for all his inadequacies, failures, and regrets; and for all of yours as well:  troubled schools, troubled pocket books, troubled marriages and lives, troubled doctor’s visits.  Let not your hearts be troubled.
            For what Phillip, and we, are not willing to do - that is to fear love and trust in the goodness of the Lord and His promise to make all things new - Jesus was.  Jesus was willingness to die, to go as a Lamb to the slaughter, to turn the other cheek, to take on the guilt of guilty men who reviled Him. His willingness to die, to be the Sacrifice for sins to restore us again to the Father, is how the Father is shown and known.  It is sufficient to pay the ransom, to defeat the devil, to open heaven.  Jesus’ death and resurrection is your guarantee that the place prepared for you in Father’s House will never go into foreclosure.

            Painful as it was, the disciples needed Gethsemane and the trial. They needed Jesus to die.  And still in their sinful flesh they needed to see own failure and shame.  They needed all that before Easter and the peace and the breathing out of the Holy Spirit. It was what was good and best for them.  It was sufficient to make them both saint and apostles and martyrs, to be the foundation of the Church built on Jesus Christ, the Cornerstone. 
            Jesus works the same way for you; He makes you His saints.  He does all the work and you get all His glory.  He sends His Spirit to find the lost, to place His Word of truth into the mouths of liars and give His life to the dead.  For you who were lost, Jesus is the Way; for you who were caught in the Liar’s snares, He is the Truth; for you who were dead in sin, Jesus is your Life.
            The disciples came to know this after the resurrection, the trial, the beatings, the burial the 3 day’s rest, the angels the women at the tomb; Jesus appears.  He is risen.  Jesus opened their minds and their eyes to see Him - the Way, the Truth and the Life – in all the Scriptures.  They understood.  Open eyes.  Open minds.  Open mouths.  That’s the pattern of Jesus’ disciples, yesterday and today.
            “Lord, Show us the Father.”  And Jesus does.  The Way to the Father is found in the font (for Ava and Tana today).  A new Name and a new life are yours.  Here at the altar – Jesus feeds you with His true body and blood.  Here in His Word, Jesus breathes the Father’s Word of life into your ears.  Receive and speak.  Take, eat.  Take, drink.  Hear.  Now, go tell.
            For you are not the only ones who need to hear.  There are others who are lost the way you once were, liars and foolish according to the flesh, without life or hope. 
This is why St. Peter exhorts us to be living stones.  You are Christ’s living sacrifice.  This is the liturgy of your daily life.  Your vocation, your calling as father, mother, son, daughter, worker, citizen, worshiper.  You’re a priest.  Consecrated by the in Baptism and by the Word of God and prayer.  All the ordinary stuff in your day to day work is holy because you are holy in Christ.
            So, priestly work doesn’t just happen on Sunday morning or whenever you’re at Redeemer.  Priestly work goes on wherever God has called you to be a priest - at home with your children, in your community, in your workplace, in the classroom, on the playground, with friends, family , coworkers, neighbors.  You are priests of God blessing, teaching, praying.  Consecrated in Baptism you worship God, pray, praise, give thanks, bless others, teach others.  That’s what priests do. 
            And more importantly, that’s who you are in Christ: A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God’s own possession, that you proclaim the excellencies of him - the Way, the Truth and the Life - who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 
            This is most certainly true.

In the Name of the Father and of the T Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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