The Way, The Truth, and The Life
John 14: 1-6
Sermon by Pastor Josh Van Leeuwen
Introduction by Phyllis Yearick
There’s a pivotal scene in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Fellowship of the Ring” in which the Council of Elrond meets in secret to discuss what to do with the One Ring, which by its connection to the evil Sauron threatens to end all that is good in the world. In the movie version, once Elrond, the half-elf ruler of Rivendell and host of the meeting, states that the ring must be taken to its place of origin and destroyed, the rest of the council—dwarves, elves, and men, along with Gandalf, the wizard—begin to argue about who is worthy to attempt the task and whether it is even possible. Underneath the cacophony of angry voices, Frodo, the young and innocent hobbit, hears in his mind another, more sinister one: that of Sauron himself. As the volume of the dispute rises, Frodo, unable to bear it any longer, stands up and says, “I will take it! I will take the ring to Mordor.” Silence. Frodo continues, softly, “Though . . . I do not know the way.”
On the evening of the Passover meal, after Jesus and his disciples had eaten, after he had washed their feet, commissioned them to their new life of service, and revealed to them everything that would happen to him over the next few days, Jesus attempted to comfort his friends. “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” he said. “Trust in God; trust also in me.” He went on to say that his Father’s house had a place for each of them, and he was going to prepare it beforehand and then take them there to be with him. “You know the way to the place where I am going,” he said. Thomas protested: “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Sometimes, we who follow Jesus are criticized for saying that he is the only way to salvation. That’s not very inclusive, they say. Surely there are many paths to God, and Jesus is only one of them. Surely Christians don’t have a monopoly on salvation. That doesn’t sound very just or merciful. But Jesus himself said it: “I am the way. Nobody comes to the Father except through me.” Perhaps, say some who enjoy parsing language, what Jesus meant was that because of his sacrifice, the door to God is now open to all who want salvation, no matter which path they take to get there. But when Jesus said he was the way to God, he wasn’t just calling himself the path: he also named himself as the only method by which we can be saved. He isn’t merely the where but is also the how. Only in him is truth; only by him is life. Only by acknowledging our need for a savior, confessing our sins, and accepting his sacrifice on our behalf can we walk his path of righteousness, directional both in physical space and in spiritual orientation, and be reconciled to God.
Gandalf was the first to promise Frodo his help with the burden of carrying the One Ring to its destruction. Then others—a dwarf, an elf, and two men, along with Frodo’s dear friend, Sam—also pledged their loyalty and aid. And either with or despite the help from those who knew the way to Mordor, Frodo did reach his destination. With the help of Jesus, who alone is the way, we also will reach our destination. Most of us will not endure trials like the ones Frodo faced, but there will be challenges. However, with Jesus leading us, we are sure to reach the Father if we do not give up. We know where Jesus went when he left his disciples, and he has shown us the way there. All we have to do is follow him.
You are welcome at Westview Church! Join us this Sunday morning at 9:30 for worship, and stay afterward for Discovery Hour (all ages, little ones through adults).