Theme: Christianity Is Christ
In these lessons we look at some of the final instructions Jesus passed on to his disciples, and see how they are also given to us for living godly lives even in the midst of difficulty.
Scripture: John 14
The next thing I notice is that heaven is a home. It is our home. “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through,” we sing in one of our gospel songs, and that is true. I have been helped in thinking along these lines by Paul Tournier’s book, A Place for You. If you have read that, you know that he begins with a report of a counseling session. He tells how a young man came to him greatly troubled. He had not been able to succeed in life, and as he explored his life with Tournier, he traced his problems back to his unstable home and upbringing. His parents had divorced early. He had felt that somehow it was his fault that his parents did not stay together. He was a failure in school. He could never quite get his life together. As he was trying to analyze it with Tournier, he said, “I suppose that all through my life what I have really been searching for is a place to be.”
In individual development it makes a tremendous difference whether a child has a home where he knows he belongs, or whether he does not have a home. A child who is secure in his home can thereafter be at home anywhere. As a child, all he has to do is put a stick across the back of two chairs and that is his house. The play house is a symbol for the way he lives.
Tournier takes what we observe on the level of human psychology and carries it over into the spiritual realm, saying that what we need there is a home. We are never going to find a truly permanent home in this world, because this world is transient. We are never going to have a permanent spiritual home here. But Jesus says, “I am going to prepare a place for you. I am making you a home in heaven.” If that is the case, it does not make any difference where our earthly home is, and whether we are going from our home or whether we are going to our home. We are like Abraham—a pilgrim, yet very much at home. Why? Because Abraham looked for a city that has foundations whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:10). No matter what our troubles are, there is a place called heaven and Jesus has gone there to prepare it for us.
So the first theme from John 14 is heaven. The second thing Jesus talks about in John 14 is Himself. If I were to put this in a phrase, I would say that Jesus is saying: “Christianity is Myself.” Specifically, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (v. 6).
What kind of world do we live in? What are we like as individuals? Well, we live in a world that is lost, and we are individually lost apart from Jesus. To lost people Jesus says, “I am the way. I am the way to go. You come to the Father through me.” We live in a world that is confused. We are confused. We do not know what to believe. To confused people Jesus says, “I am the truth. You find the answer to all problems in me. Moreover, the more you know me, the more you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Finally, we live in a world that is dying. We are dying men and women. We die a little bit every day. To dying people Jesus says, “I am the life.”
Jesus did not say, “I am one of an equally valid number of ways that you can get to God.” He did not say, “I am a phrase of truth.” He did not say, “I am an aspect of life.” He said, “I am the way; I am the truth; I am the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” A person living in the midst of this lost, confused, and dying world can receive comfort from that. There may be many things we do not understand, but at least we can understand what is the heart of reality, namely, Jesus.
What is the next point that is made about heaven? What is the significance of that for the Christian life?
What is the second great theme of John 14? Why is this especially relevant for today?
Application: How would you answer someone who maintained that Jesus was simply one way to get to God, but not necessarily the only way?