Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lent Midweek 6

Lent Midweek 6 – March 28th – John 14:1-11

In the Name of Christ the Crucified +
Our Gospel lesson takes place on Maundy Thursday evening. There in the Upper room, before He heads to His passion, our Lord teaches His disciples, His closest friends. And as He prepares them for what is to come, for His suffering and death and resurrection, He tells them that He is doing this to prepare them a place in heaven. And just to cap things off, He says, “And you know the way to where I am going.” And then Thomas, good old Thomas peeps up with, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Talk about a deflating answer – You don’t know, Thomas? Here Christ has been pointing them to heaven and salvation – the mansions of the Father… ah, nope, don’t know what You’re talking about, and I certainly don’t know how to get there.

In response our Lord says tonight’s I Am statement: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” With these words our Lord sums up His entire ministry, the entire point of why He came, what He was here to do. He is the way, He is the truth, and He is the life. When we think of Jesus, when we think of His ministry, nothing encapsulates it better than Jesus saying that He is “The Way”. In fact, the first Christians just said that they were those who were part of “The Way”. Christ Jesus is the way, the path which brings us to restoration with God the Father and with each other. If we are to spend eternity with the Father, Christ is the way. There is no way apart from Christ – you cannot get to the Father apart from Christ. Doesn’t matter how good you think you are, doesn’t matter how nice you have been – apart from Christ you cannot reach the Father. Period.

You can think about it this way – every Gospel lesson we hear, every sermon that is preached here, is nothing more than expanding upon this idea of Jesus being the Way – every Gospel lesson, every sermon simply shows and explains what Christ has done in order to bring us, restored and forgiven, before the Father. He becomes man to fulfill the Law in our place. He is baptized, so that we might be baptized for the forgiveness of our sins. He lives the perfect life, fulfilling our righteousness. He suffers and is mocked in our stead. He suffers and tastes death so that He can defeat it for us. He rises, so that we too will rise. Every thing is just Christ paving the way to life everlasting. He is the way, and there is no other way, no other name under heaven by which we are to be saved.

What we must be wary of is this – our sinful flesh despises the fact that Christ and Christ alone is the way. Our sinful flesh does not want to rely upon Christ – it wants to rely upon itself. Our sinful flesh doesn’t like not having a choice in the matter. This is especially true for us as Americans – we love having our options, our choices, the ability to customize – we do this to everything. Yet Christ tells us that He is the way alone, and our sinful flesh can take umbrage at this. This is the way Satan attacks many people – by denying that Jesus is the way. How many folks today will say, “oh, there are many paths to God”? This verse calls them liars. Many folks will try to make even the Christian faith a pick and choose sort of thing, where they observe parts and other things they will ignore. Doesn’t work that way. Christ Jesus is the way, and apart from Him, we can do nothing.

To make us to see and understand this, Christ Jesus came teaching. He came to be the Truth. Over and against the false temptations of Sin, Christ came to show us our sin and show us His righteousness, which He gives to us to give us life. As John teaches us in his first epistle: “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the Truth is not in us.” Did you hear that – if we claim to be perfect, we are liars like Satan, and Christ, the Truth, dwells not in us. Yet, when we speak truthfully about our sinfulness, what then? “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” When we speak with Christ His truth, we receive forgiveness, He cleanses our sin, takes it all away. This is the truth that sets us free, the truth that gives life everlasting.

There is a lot of blabbering that goes on in the world today about religion, about God, about faith. Here is how you can cut to the chase with it – does it speak the Truth? Does it confess with Christ that I am a poor miserable sinner, does it show Christ Jesus winning me forgiveness with His life, death, and resurrection? Does it proudly proclaim that Jesus alone is the way – or does it point to something else, my works, my worth, my merit? If it is not speaking of Christ for you, Christ who comes to win you salvation, who comes to give you life – it’s trash. And again, remember that the world will dangle all sorts of things out there for you to be focused on, even in churches. But the center and key must remain this – that we are sinners who receive forgiveness on account of Christ Jesus. In fact, this is what life is.

This is true because Christ Jesus is life. Our life, our existence, our salvation rests solely and completely upon Him. Again, this is something that cuts across the grain of American society. How often have you heard someone say, “It’s my life, I can do with it what I want.” Actually – no. First of all, it denies the reality that we were created to be in relationship with others. Yes, I have a life, but my life, part of it belongs to my son. He has the right to lay claim to my time. Yes, I have a life, but in this life, I am a pastor. You here have the right to my time, my service. It is a deception of sin that makes us think that we should live only for ourselves – we were created to love and care for one another – that is what life is. Sin has wrecked that, made us selfish and fallen. But that is why Christ Jesus came – He came because He is life, and He will restore you to life, life everlasting. If you are to have life, you will have it only by Christ, only in Him. You belong to Him. He is your redeemer, He has purchased and won you from all sins, from death, from the power of the devil. You belong to Him, and He is your life. And this is a wonderful thing, a wonderful gift. It’s a wonderful thing to be Christ’s, to have your life come from Him. Because apart from Christ there is only death, there are only lies and delusions, there are only wandering paths into loneliness and isolation and doom and destruction. Christ Jesus does not desire that for you, so He comes to you through His Life giving Word to call you unto Himself, to redeem you, to forgive you and make you His own, so that in Him you have life. He invigorates you, beats down your selfishness and fills you with His own life, His own love. That is a mighty thing.

Lent is winding down – know what you are seeing. You are seeing Christ Jesus re-establish life in this fallen world – bringing life to fallen mortals, bringing Truth, making us to really be alive, taking us to the Father. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And all this He is for you, for your sake, so that He might have you with Him in His Father’s house for all eternity. In the Name…

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