Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life
“Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life”
Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines
Fourth Sunday After Easter
May 14, 2017
Readings: Acts 17: 1-15; Psalm 66: 1-11
1 Peter 2: 1-10
John 14: 1-14
The Scriptures are given to us to guide us and bring us to a relationship with Jesus Christ. Sometimes, though, when we read a portion of Scriptures, we do so without reading what came before it and what follows it. As a result, we don’t really understand the verses and why they were written. We take things out of context and we don’t get the message that God wants to impart to us.
The Gospel for today was spoken by Christ as He and His apostles finished the Last Supper. Judas had left to betray Christ and the Lord had shared some thoughts to the apostles, telling them that He wasn’t going to be with them much longer because His time had come to an end. This had shaken the apostles and caused them great anxiety because they had been with Him for sometime and had learned to be dependent upon Him. For them, He was the source of life itself. They followed Him and did what He asked them to do because they reverenced Him. Now He was telling that He was leaving. Immediately there’s this emotional turnabout in their lives. He was also asking them to follow Him where He was going, saying, “And you know where I am going”. Thomas said, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me”. These three statements are very powerful instructions to us. We read them but don’t pay attention to what the Lord is saying. “I am the way; no one can come to the Father but through Me.” Jesus is the only way to the Father. We must understand that our lives are dependent upon Christ and what He has done for us. If He didn’t come and become incarnate, we would still be in bondage today. No one at that time of history had been able to bring mankind out of the bondage that Satan had brought upon it. Man had disobeyed God and had been in darkness ever since. The Church tried to do its part but instead of bringing men out of darkness, the Church brought them into deeper bondage by taking the 10 commandments and expanding them to over 600. So Jesus very clearly told them, “Yes, I’m going but I want you to understand this: I am the way”. They didn’t know at that point what that meant. They didn’t understand that He had to go to the cross to die on their behalf; that He was going to take all of their sins, erase them and restore them to the original plan of God – to be holy and blameless. Jesus was telling them that He was the one who will set them free from all that the devil has put upon them – all the darkness, the fear and anxiety, the sickness and disease. He was telling them that He was taking all these upon Himself so they can be set free and have new life in Him.
We have been told at some point that if we want to make it to heaven, we have to be part of a certain church. Some think that their church is the only one that will go to heaven, but it probably won’t be because if Christ is not the focus of their faith, they can’t attain eternal life. We’ve also been taught and believe that if we do the “right” things like giving to the poor, helping the weak or taking care of widows, then we’ll be okay. No. These are good deeds, but they aren’t the way to salvation. The only way to salvation and eternal life is Christ. The good deeds are the results of knowing Him; of understanding and living out what He’s given us. We do these things out of gratitude for what He has done for us, and because we’ve been set free, we want others to also experience this freedom. Without Christ, we won’t have this freedom and salvation. “I am the way.” Don’t misunderstand; this doesn’t make the Church, its theology and doctrine and church organizations wrong. But if they aren’t focused on Christ and putting Christ first, these things won’t bring us to that place of redemption. Sometimes we put confidence in an organization, thinking that if we’re part of it, we’ll make it. Some think that if they take the Eucharist, it will be enough for God to take care of them. But taking the Eucharist without the understanding that it is Christ that we partake of, and that we can have salvation only through Him, won’t guaranty us of redemption.
Christ must be the focus of everything that we do. It is only through Him that we can have salvation. If somebody else could have done it, they would’ve done so by this time. From the time of Adam, many have tried to free the world from the bondage of sin. God sent His Son to take upon flesh because it was flesh that betrayed God and it had to be flesh that would restore man to God’s original plan. It’s in Christ alone that we can have redemption. He should be the center of our lives and our worship. In some churches, Christ isn’t the center of their gathering but music or the preaching. If Christ isn’t the center, it isn’t the right way. Sometimes we try to earn our salvation. When something goes wrong, we think it’s because we didn’t give Jesus the proper attention; but it’s our focus on Christ and not on the things that we do that matters. If Christ wiped away our sins and cleared the pages of our book, then our failures won’t destroy us. Let’s put our trust in Christ who restores, redeems and gives us hope.
Read this carefully: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). It’s not in the church or the right doctrine or theology that we can have eternal life; it’s believing in Christ that gives eternal life. These other things aren’t wrong; they help bring us to Christ. But Christ is the source. “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world may be saved through Him” (John 3:17). John used this short phrase to emphasize that Jesus is the source of salvation. “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). Scriptures talk about the narrow way. It’s in Christ alone, not in a person or a church organization or anything we can ever do. We build up our relationship with Him by giving our lives to Him. Doesn’t matter what church you belong to for as long as Christ is the center of your life. “I am the door” (John 10:9). There’s no other way. We may have billions in the bank, the biggest house and many expensive cars, but they will not bring us life. Life only comes through Christ. We will have all the battles, struggles and conflicts that take away our peace and joy if we don’t put Christ at the center of our lives. “I am the way, I am the truth.” Many of the things we’ve been taught aren’t true but are just theories and thoughts of people. Truth is only in Christ. Sometimes when we fail, our minds will tell us that we have sinned and therefore, God has rejected us; that He doesn’t love us anymore. The truth is God loves us and His love will never change. This truth takes away our fear and anxiety, no matter what we’re going through. God gave His Son’s life so we can have fullness of life; a life of abundance. “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Christ came to take away the problems and circumstances that held us in bondage. He set us free and gave us new life. “By His stripes we were healed.” Healing belongs to us. Doesn’t mean we will never get sick, but the truth is healing belongs to us. Christ paid the price for our healing. In Him is fullness of life. In Colossians, we read over and over again that all these things are ours because of what He’s done for us.
Some believe that if you don’t pray a certain prayer, you’re not going to make it. You won’t find this anywhere in Scriptures. We can pray any way. We can come to God and say, “I’m sorry; I failed. I need You; acknowledge who You are”. There are many ways to know Him; the important thing is to always put Christ at the center. He is the life. Without Him there is no life. If you know that Christ loves you, you won’t have anxiety in the midst of a storm. Remember the 3 Hebrew children who were thrown into the fiery furnace? They were being tortured by Nebuchadnezzar because they wouldn’t bow down. They didn’t worry about what punishment they would have to endure. When they were thrown into the fiery furnace, the only thing that got burned were the ropes used to tie them up. In the midst of the fire, they had confidence because Christ was with them. In the midst of difficulties, Christ comes to our aid to give us hope. He set a pattern for us and all we have to do is walk the path that He’s given us – the path of love. The world will know that we are His disciples because of our love. If we don’t walk in love, then Christ isn’t in our lives. There are times when we get angry or upset and we want to take revenge, but we shouldn’t hold on to the anger because we know that God loves us and therefore, we too must love. Christ didn’t come to judge and neither should we.
There’s nothing in this world – not material wealth nor educational degrees – that can give us life and lead us to a place of hope. The only thing that can bring us there is a relationship with Jesus Christ. “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8). Doesn’t mean we have to give up everything but we shouldn’t hold on so tightly to them that we refuse to give them up. We should be willing to give up everything for a relationship with Christ. “And may be found in Him not having a righteousness of my own….” We can’t earn our salvation. It’s a gift from God; and all that God has done for us is worthless unless we accept it and walk in it. This is the weakness of many Christians today. We think that because God has done all these for us, we can go on living our own way, not realizing that when we do, we negate the work that He’s done in our lives.
Through Christ we have been given access to the Father. He is the door to the Father. Don’t pray to others; pray to Him because He is the door to the holy place. We enter that door through what He has done for us on the cross. There’s no other door; no other way; no other hope. Christ alone was sent to give us life. “I am the resurrection and the life.” Jesus tells us in all these declarations that He is the way; not “me” or anybody else. What ever good I do, it’s because of Christ working in me, and it’s all for Him; for His glory. It’s not because of anything we’ve done. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2 that we are a chosen generation; a royal priesthood. If we read this in its setting, we’ll realize that this statement was meant to correct because the people weren’t living the life that Christ gave them. Peter said they couldn’t do that because they were a royal priesthood. He was challenging them to live and prove that they were a chosen race; a royal priesthood. The statement was disciplinary, meant to correct them. We also turn things our way. The writer of the song saw these words as something that would make us happy, but Peter’s words are meant to challenge us to realize what God has given us and to live it out.
This is Easter and we are made to realize that Christ is the way. No one else could redeem the world. We have all these famous men who conquered the world and set it free. Today even the United Nation is saying that it will bring peace to the world. It can’t. Christ is the only one who can do it. Man is trying but if he does it in his own effort, he’s wasting his time. So on this fourth Sunday after Easter, we are challenged to realize what Christ has done for us. Are we living it? We’re not perfect, but remember this; Christ promised that when we are weak, He is strong. This is our hope. From the foundation of the world, we were created to be holy and blameless. This is our DNA; what’s in us. Our goal is to live holy and blameless lives. So this Easter season, let’s put Easter where it belongs – in Christ. He is the source of life for us.
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