Pound on Jesus All You Want; He Doesn’t Break (not anymore) – John 14:4-6
Sometimes it takes some guts to ask a question. Many students have a seen a professor roast someone in a class. Maybe the question came off as too aggressive or as just shooting the breeze from a student wanting to flex his or her pseudo intellectual cool. Maybe the prof just was having a bad day. Sometimes the nerve ends of ego get wrapped around that PhD and some student gets reminded both that he or she doesn’t yet have one and that they are nothing more than microscopic ooze taking notes. When this lightning strikes, everyone keeps their head down (literally). Who wants to be collateral damage?
Thomas had guts of all kinds. (See John 11:16) We’ve judged him harshly on his doubt at Jesus’ resurrection and, in the end, have demonized doubt among Christians resulting in shallow faith that neither holds us nor has any attraction for people looking at Christ. The boys still were chewing hard on this “My Father’s house has many dwelling places” thing. I think all the disciples had patchy hair with ragged bald spots. They scratched their heads a lot over Jesus. What did He just say? What’s He going to say? How come we never get His stories and He always has to explain them? What’s He doing now? It would be nice to know what’s going to happen for a change!
And Thomas said, “Lord, we don’t know where You are going, how do we know the way?” (John 14:5) Thomas’ back is up a little here. We hear an exasperated undertone. “You always do this. We don’t know. We’re still banging our head on what You just said.” He held up a frustrated STOP sign to Jesus Christ. The rest of the guys were glad he did but at this they kept their head down.
“I am the way…” The way stood right in front of their eyes as they pounded the roads of Galilee together. Hidden in plain sight. Sometimes we know without knowing it. Call it intuitive thinking. Then something clicks and everything snaps to and we say,”I always knew something like that but couldn’t bring it together.” Sometimes Jesus is there when we think he isn’t, hidden in plain sight. Theologians call this incarnation and it describes the amazing proposition that God not only walked around on this planet but got dirt under his fingernails and maybe had body odor. And this guy that Thomas left everything for standing right in front of Him was “the way.” To what and who needs to know?
People without a clue which means everybody. People without a clue as to what love is about, without a clue what life is for, without a clue as to what makes for lasting satisfaction or happiness, drunk under the delusion that self can buy and hold all these things and without a clue as to how to face death. People groping in moral and spiritual darkness. People crippled and broken over the consequences of what the Bible calls sin. People who have it all together and who have what you’re supposed to have to be satisfied and yet they drink and pose a lot and cry more than they show. Jesus says,”I am the way”.
Sin makes us dumb as cabbages. It always makes us pay; the interest is high and the payments steep. Christians lose track of the “Way” too. The “Way” fades in dusty deadness or the neon of temptation. Maybe our faith never grew up when we did. We were foolish enough to think that the consequences wouldn’t come down like a hailstorm – both on us and others. Many Christians act as if obedience is tough. Not so. Repentance after we’ve blown a big piece of our own soul away is what’s tough. To the one groping in darkness or blown up in the face of their own faith, Jesus says, “I am the way.” To the “something” that answers all these.
Jesus sends the head scratching into overdrive saying that He is the Truth – not preaching or teaching truth, not pointing to truth. Is. I mean smack-into-it-in-the-dark whether we believe in it or not. Truth requires neither our belief nor even our existence. Truth doesn’t audition for our approval. Truth takes on all challengers – the skeptic, the aggressive atheist, the doubting believer. John Hundley notes from his own experience, “…the more you question the Way of Jesus, the more it displays the most sublime truths.” “Sublime” hints at something to be enjoyed and savored. Chewing on Jesus as Truth, studying Him, meditating on Him, rolling Him over in our head brings immense satisfaction. A wise old guy named E. Stanley Jones said, “I had been sniffing around the world for half a century, sniffing for reality, and when I got a whiff of this, I pounced on it.” (His book, “The Unshakeable Kingdom and the Unchanging Person” is worth a look. Byron Borger can get it to you at 20% off if you say you saw it here.) You can pound your spiritual crampons into it and it’ll hold you.
Prayer point – Sometimes we argue with truth because the Way has gotten dusty out of disuse. We’re becoming casual strangers with Jesus Christ. Sometimes truth gets fuzzy because we’re in subtle or not-so-subtle rebellion against another slice of the Truth. Could that be us? Could this be a summer to concentrate on getting honest and getting right. Remember. Obedience is really easier than repentance. The first is driven by grace while the second leads back to it. Keeping alive to the Way that is Jesus is worth whichever road we take. All of us eventually will log some time on both.
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