John 14:5 “Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
I don’t know about you, but one of the things I hate most is not knowing where I am going, and not knowing how I am going to get there. It gives me that little queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach until I know that I have for sure arrived at my destination. Even when I am in an unfamiliar building, (you know when you have those quick, turn left five times, go upstairs, turn right, turn left twice, and it’s the 9th door on the right, kind of directions), I don’t like walking around attempting to find where I need to be. I would rather just know, you know? It’s even worse when I am in a city or area I’ve never been in and I have to find somebody’s house or conference or something and suddenly my GPS app on my phone just doesn’t want to work.
I can imagine this is how Thomas must have felt when he was listening to Jesus as He was talking to His disciples at the last meal He would share with them. Jesus had already washed their feet, spoke of service, predicted that one of them would betray Him, given them a commandment to love one another so the world would know whose they were, and had said that Peter would deny him. All that information and in the midst of it, He told them that He would be leaving, and they could not follow Him directly, but later on they could. Can you see the question marks in the disciples heads? Or the worry building in their hearts? Jesus did.
14:1“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.
And, this is where Thomas comes in. “What?? We know where You’re going? Okay, tell me this, Lord, if we don’t know the destination, how can we know the way?” Jesus’ response is straight to the point, yet so revealing of who He is and how different He is compared to any other religious leader/prophet of any other religion. 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The disciples had been in the presence of the Way for 3 years, and they couldn’t see it for themselves, so Jesus had to spell it out for them. Jesus is unique in the fact that He is not telling the disciples (and us) to follow His ways, and they will lead to God. He is saying that He is the Way to God. How is that so? “7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.”
I am envious of those people who seem to have an internal compass. You know those people who have that innate ability to tell you what direction you point to even if you have blindfolded them, walked them into an unfamiliar place, and spun them in circle 20 times. It takes me a bit to get my bearings, and sometimes I get into a building I can’t tell you which way is north if my life depended on it. I am not the worst – I could tell you stories of some that I know that have gotten lost in Russellville even after living here for a little while. I can usually manage to navigate with a map or a GPS, but when left to my own devices, I am lost. When we are hiking, Selby amazes me because he can figure out where we need to be by how the trail is marked, or by the fact we should be following a creek or something like that. We went recently to listen to Tim Ernst, a nature photographer, speak about a recent project. We were chatting with him afterwards, he was talking about a similar concept, following the lay of the land because of a river – it’s natural to him. But, he said that he always wants a GPS when he is in flat land down in Southern Arkansas because it’s unfamiliar territory for him – he would be lost without it.
The fact the Jesus is the Way is comforting. I already have the Way within me because I have already accepted Him. I already have an internal Eternal GPS, you see. I don’t have to worry that I will get lost, because I am not left to my own devices. I am not expected to do it on my own, because He has already done it for me. That “preparing a place” He was talking about was His death on the cross and then conquering that death in 3 days. If Christ had a way He had just expected us to follow, it would be about us trying to do our best to follow the path laid out for us like so many other religions are built. If it were a path to follow in life, it would be so easy for us to get off that path, to wander, to not reach our destination. How would you measure if you followed it correctly? The wonderful thing about Jesus – is that just recognizing Him as the Way, understanding Him as the Truth, and accepting Him as the Life – is what makes Christ so different, so perfect in our lives in comparison to anything else out there. It’s not what we do, not about how we follow a path – It’s who He is and what He has done and what He continues to do through His Spirit.
Jesus spoke about how to live and how to love after He was gone. The disciples and we are not left to figure out how to do that on our own. Before Jesus left, He gave a promise and yet another encouragement that I think we should hold dear still today in the midst of turmoil. “16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. … 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
We have the Way within us because of our acceptance of Christ as Savior and Lord, and we have the Spirit to guide us in the ways of Christ, to help us to discern and to glean from the Word those things we might not otherwise, to gain peace that passes all understanding. These things we have because of our relationship with Christ, not because we are on some quest to gain some higher realm. No list of good works that we do could ever measure up to what He had already done for us. What we do may make us look good on the outside, but only what Christ did makes us look good on the inside. We know that our position with Christ is secure because of His Grace – because He takes what is broken and makes it beautiful. What a wonderful picture and what a relief (no queasiness) that I don’t have to do it on my own…and it makes me wonder why I don’t tell more people about what He’s done for me…