Friday, May 25, 2012

John 14:4-6 Map to Heaven

Jesus had just assured the disciples that, even though He was going away, He would return and take them to their heavenly home. Now He tells them that they need not worry about how to get to heaven, because they already knew the way.

“You know the way to the place where I am going.” 

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Don’t you love that Thomas is not embarrassed to bring forth his questions? I’m sure the other ten were thinking, “What’s He talking about? I’ll just pretend I get it...” But Thomas rescues them all with his question. I always encourage my students to ask clarifying questions, because, as I tell them, “If you don’t understand it, there are at least five others with the same question, so we all gain from your questions.” And I’m so thankful that Thomas asked so that we could hear Jesus’ answer! Because Jesus gives the most emphatic declaration about Himself - one that causes nonbelievers to protest, “You Christians are too narrow and exclusive!”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:4-6)

It doesn’t get more narrow than that! I heard Billy Graham once asked, “Why are you Christians so narrow?” His answer was, “I’m stuck with what Jesus said: ‘I am the way the truth and the life. No ones comes to the Father except through me.’ Either He was telling the truth or He was lying.”

Peter said, in his first public sermon, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

Jesus said in Matthew 7:13, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it."

Is it exclusive of God to provide just one way? Yes! It’s also SIMPLE! Too simple for some. There’s a story in the Old Testament (2 Kings 5) of an army commander of the king of Aram, Naaman, who is described as a “great man,” “highly regarded,” and as a “valiant soldier.” One problem: he had leprosy. He ends up going to Elisha, the prophet, to be cured. Elisha tells him to bathe in the Jordan River seven times and he will be healed. This angers Naaman, because it seems silly and the Jordan River was not a particularly clean river. In fact, he goes away in a rage! But his servants go to him and plead with him to obey Elisha’s simple command:

“My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!”  So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy. (2 Kings 5:13-14)

How like us! Give us something really hard to do! The idea of a difficult task or quest in order to prove ourselves worthy appeals to our pride. But, remember, when Jesus was asked what men should do to do the works of God, he answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:29) God kept salvation simple for our simple brains! It is NOT exclusive! It’s available to ANYONE who believes. You don’t need the PhD in theology. You don’t have to spend your lifetime searching for God on some long spiritual journey. Even the uneducated woman in the field in Africa can believe!

Simple for us - but it cost Christ everything! Amazing!  

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