I am the Resurrection

Where is he?  Where? 
Where is he?  How many times had
she asked that question over the past four days.  Her only brother had come down with some
mysterious virus and nobody could do anything for him.  Well nobody except for their friend
Jesus.  How many times had he reached out
his hand and the blind had seen, or the lame had walked.  If there was any hope for Lazarus it would
only be through Jesus.  Granted she
hadn’t actually asked Jesus to come, she had only sent word that His friend was
deathly ill.  If Jesus was the friend that
he professed to be wouldn’t he have come. 
But she had waited and Lazarus got worse, and she waited and Lazarus
died, and she waited and Lazarus had been buried.   Jesus had healed the paralytic and he didn’t
even know him, he healed the blind man who was just a face in the crowd, surely
he would come for his friend.    And
still the thought tormented her: where was he? Surely she couldn’t have
misjudged Jesus so badly.  He had eaten
at their table and slept under their roof surely that had meant something to
him, or maybe not. 
And then a murmur began to weave its way
through the crowd that had gathered to mourn with the two sisters, “The master
is here, Jesus has arrived.”  And Martha
couldn’t help herself, she was on her feet rushing to meet her friend.  The thought that had burned in her heart was
already on her lips,  John 11:21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been
here, my brother would not have died.
I don’t think it was said with a mean or
vindictive spirit, but I don’t think it was simply a statement of fact
either.  I think she was disappointed in
Jesus and felt betrayed and I’m sure the question even though unasked could be
read in her eyes, “When you heard he was sick, why didn’t you come then?” 
Max Lucado says that “The grave unearths our view of God” And he’s right
how often have we heard “God if you existed my child wouldn’t have died, if
you’d have answered my prayers my life wouldn’t be empty, if you cared my
mother wouldn’t have developed cancer.”? 
How often are we guilty of dealing with
God in that very same way as Martha.  Demanding
to know why he doesn’t do it the way we want it done, when we want it
done?  The experts tell us that it would
have been a two day walk from where Jesus heard the news to Bethany, and you all know how an expert is
defined?  X being the unknown quantity,
spurt being a drip under pressure.  So if
we take the experts’ word for the distance and add to it the two days that
Jesus waited before he left we come up with a grand total of four days, the
exact number of days that Lazarus had been in the grave.  So it really wouldn’t have made a difference
even if Jesus had headed out as soon as he heard the news, he still would have
been two days late.
And then as Jesus looked into
the grief filled eyes of Martha we read John 11:23 Jesus
told her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Well Martha had no doubt about
what Jesus was talking about, she knew that he was just doing the funeral home
pleasantries, you know “Well they are in a better place”  “their suffering is over”  And she responded and said John
11:24
“Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when
everyone else rises, at the last day.”
You see, even though Martha was a woman of faith and she had no doubt
that God could handle the future she wasn’t all that sure that he could handle
the present.  She trusted God with
tomorrow but she didn’t know how she was going to get through today with her
grief and sorrow.  She knew in her heart
of hearts that she would see her brother in the next life, but she missed him
in this life. 
And Jesus looked at her again and said John 11:25 Jesus
told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will
live, even after dying.” If you don’t know the rest of the story Martha
takes Jesus to meet her other sibling Mary, and Jesus asks them to take him to
their brother’s grave.  And it is in this
part of the story that we discover the shortest verse in the bible, John
11:35
Then Jesus wept. If you every
wanted to know how Jesus feels about the death of your loved one, the death of
your spouse, or your parent or your child it is summed up in these three words,
Then Jesus wept.
Even though Jesus knew that he
not only could raise Lazarus from the dead but would indeed raise his friend
from the dead, he still wept. Death is a terrible thing; it may be a transition
to a better life but often times it is a painful transition. In his song “Prop
me Up beside the Jukebox When I die” 
Country singer Joe Diffie sings “I’m not afraid of dying it’s the thought of being
dead.”  I beg to differ with Mr.
Diffie, “I’m not afraid of being dead, I have an assurance of an eternity with
my God but I kind of agree with Woody Allen who said, “I’m not afraid to die, I just don’t
want to be there when it happens.”
Grief is a human emotion, even
when we know that our loved ones have gone to a better place that grief and
sorrow needs to be expressed.  Mourning
is a natural part of the grief process, and if we skip it, then it will
eventually return to haunt us.  There
will come times in our life when we need to take time to cry.
But then the story takes an
unexpected turn Jesus demands that the tomb be opened, remember in that day and
age tombs were often dug in the side of a hill and sealed with a large rock,
and entire families would be interred together. 
The sisters objected, “He’s been dead for four days, the smell will be
terrible.”  And Jesus responded and said John
11:40
Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that
you would see God’s glory if you believe?”   And you know the rest of the story,
Jesus stands before the open tomb and calls out “Lazarus come out.”  And he did, Jesus did what nobody else could
do, he gave life were there was no life. 
With one command Jesus proved the reality of his words John
11:25
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection
and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.   And the response to that is found in John
11:45
Many of the people who were with Mary
believed in Jesus when they saw this happen. Well, who wouldn’t
believe?  Well apparently not everybody
or they wouldn’t have crucified him.
And you are thinking “If I saw
Jesus raise somebody from dead I’d believe. That would be all I need.”  Last week we looked at what Jesus meant when
he said “I am the Life” and when he gave life back to Lazarus and the widow’s
son and  Jarius’ daughter he showed that
he could perform miracles but he didn’t just say “I am the Life”  he also said “I am the resurrection” and that
is the very heart of the matter for us today. 
“I am the resurrection!”
And the issue of the resurrection isn’t just one of those
doctrines that we can accept or not accept it is at the very core of who we are
as Christ Followers.  Paul told the early
believers in the Corinthian church 1 Corinthians 15:17 And if Christ has not been raised, then
your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins.  My question would be: If you don’t believe Jesus when he said “I am the
Resurrection” if you don’t believe that was proved in his resurrection then why
would you call yourself a Christ Follower? 
Who is the Christ you are following, because if you can’t believe the
resurrection then you are just following another dead prophet.
And maybe you are
thinking: “I want to believe but there are issues.”  And those are probably the same issues that
others have had.
Some sayThe
Resurrection is Impossible. 
On the
face of it this is probably the most common objection to the resurrection.  Dead men aren’t alive they are dead.  And I will be the first to admit, it is
impossible.  But then again if it wasn’t
impossible it wouldn’t mean a whole lot would it.  Within the scope of things Christians have
never denied this point as a matter of fact it is the foundation of our
faith. 
Our faith acknowledges that a person cannot come back from
the dead, but our faith doesn’t believe that Jesus was just a person; instead
we believe that he was God.  And if God
put the rules of nature into force then God can step outside the rules of
nature.  We see that time and time again
throughout the bible, they are called miracles and you either believe in the
supernatural or you don’t.  We believe
that his birth, the virgin birth was miraculous and we believe that his
resurrection was miraculous.
And we believe it not just because one person said it
happened but because the bible records numerous people who witnessed it.  The first were the ladies who are mentioned as
being the first to the tomb, and then we read that Christ appeared to the 11
remaining apostles and then other disciples. 
Paul spells it out for us in 1 Corinthians 15:4-7 He was buried, and he was raised from
the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the
Twelve. After that, he was seen by more
than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some
have died. Then he was seen by James and
later by all the apostles.
And perhaps you are thinking: Ok, I’ll buy into the fact the
tomb was empty, so what? There could be other explanations.  And there have been various theories
presented throughout the years.
Maybe The Women Went
to the Wrong Tomb. 
Obviously the
women were upset, they had witnessed the brutal execution of a close friend, it
was early in the morning and maybe in their confusion and in the dark they
arrived at a tomb that hadn’t been used yet and thought that it was the tomb
that Jesus should have been in but wasn’t.
But let’s think it through, Jesus wasn’t buried in an
unknown tomb, two thousand years later we even know the name of the man who
donated the tomb, it was Joseph
of Arimathea.  And we are even told in Luke 23:55 As his body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where his body was
placed.  They had been there just two days before and even
if they had gotten mixed up and went to the wrong tomb don’t you think Joseph
or someone else would have pointed out their mistake?  Instead we read that Peter went to the tomb
and it was empty. 
And if this was
indeed the wrong tomb then logic would tell us that there had to be a right
tomb, a tomb with Jesus body in it.  And
if there was a right tomb with a body then it would have been a relatively
simple thing for the Jewish leaders and Roman authorities to say “Hey dummies,
you went to the wrong grave, here’s the right grave with the body of Jesus
right where it’s supposed to be.”   But
they didn’t, why?  Because the woman had
gone to the right grave and there was no body in it.
3) It was the Right Tomb but the Body Had Been
Removed. 
Ok, the question then begs to be asked; Who stole
the body?  A) The Romans  B) The Jews or C) the Disciples.
Well we can deal with the first two together because the
Romans and the Jews had nothing to gain by removing and hiding Christ’s body
and everything to lose.  The Jews and the
Romans didn’t want an empty tomb to bolster the claims of the Christ Followers,
they wanted a body.  They wanted to be
able to say “Hey look everyone, Jesus didn’t rise from the dead here’s his body
and he’s still dead.”  But they couldn’t
do that because they didn’t have a body. 
Instead we read this account of what happened after the tomb
was found empty Matthew
28:12-13 A meeting
with the elders was called, and they decided to give the soldiers a large
bribe. They told the soldiers, “You
must say, ‘Jesus’ disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and
they stole his body.’ 
So maybe the disciples did steal the body.  But why? 
When Christ was arrested the apostles all scattered.  We only hear about two of them actually
following Christ and John hid in the shadows and Peter denied that he even knew
Jesus. 
So all of a sudden this sorry lot become ninja’s sneaking up
on a group of highly trained Roman soldiers, roll aside the stone that sealed
the tomb and disappear into the night carrying the body of their friend.  And then they use this act of deception to
found a religion based on a high moral code of integrity and honesty.  Seems a little far-fetched to me.  But
there is no record of the soldiers being punished for falling asleep on duty,
no record of the apostle’s being forced to tell where the body was hidden.
Add to that the fact that every one of the disciple
eventually faced persecution and death for their faith and not one of them
broke and admitted where they hid the body. 
They were a braver bunch then I would have been, I hate pain, I probably
would have made up secrets.
I know that there are all kinds of people who are willing to
die for what they believe in, remember 9/11 and all the suicide bombers we hear
about on the news.  They are willing to
die for their faith because they believe that it is true, but if the apostle
had of stolen the body of Jesus they would have been willing to die for
something they knew was false.
Jesus Wasn’t Really
Dead and it was all a Ploy
Some people have called this the swoon
theory.  There are some people and even
some churches that teach Jesus wasn’t dead but he was simply unconscious and in
the coolness of the tomb he revived and people thought he had been raised from
the dead. 
If you understood the reality of the crucifixion you would
realize just how implausible this theory is. 
The Romans crucified people all the time, and it was done to kill people
not just render them unconscious.  They
knew the difference between “He’s Dead” and “He’s simply sleeping.”
Think
about it, by the time he got to the trial he had already been awake for 24
hours, then he was repeatedly beaten, flogged by a Roman soldier, forced to
carry a cross to his place of execution, had a crown of thorns pressed into his
head, was nailed to a cross and left for hours in the Palestinian sun and then
had a spear thrust into his side. 
A
Roman centurion who supposedly had all kinds of experience at this kind of
thing pronouncing him dead, he pulled down off the cross and stuck into a cold
tomb where apparently with no medical help he spontaneously revives, moves the
rock in front of the tomb, slips by the Roman Guard and then this half dead
bedraggled man in desperate need of medical help convinces his apostles that he
is the risen Lord and conqueror of death. 
And
the reason people teach this is because they find the resurrection hard to
believe.  OK.
Some Object Because The Resurrection Accounts are
Contradictory. 
And if we read the accounts in the four gospels
they do all contain different details. 
But if they were all the same their objection would be that they were
obviously just copying one another.
The question
should be are the key elements the same? 
And they are, they went to the tomb and they found it empty.  Who arrived there first or second is really
irrelevant.  Were there angels inside or
outside? Depends on who you ask and when they got there.   On my first trip to Africa we discovered
that if you asked the five of us who went to describe the trip you would find
it hard to believe that we had been together for 14 days.  You would hear things from me that you
wouldn’t hear from the other four and vice versa does that mean those things
didn’t happen?  No, it means that event
had more meaning for some of us, or we noticed something that others didn’t.
While we were in
Sierra Leone I saw a monkey run across the road, the two guys in the backseat
missed it and the monkey was gone when the other vehicle passed by, does that
mean that there was no monkey?  I asked
our driver what type of monkey it was and he said it had to be a fast monkey
because the rebels had eaten all the slow monkeys.
Last summer
Angela and I went on vacation, if you asked some people they would tell you
that we went on an Alaskan Cruise. 
Other’s would tell you that we visited my cousin Lindy and her family in
Vancouver.  You might even hear that we
were at Whistler and Blackcomb.  Others
would tell you that we went to Seattle and reconnected with a couple who had
been in our Youth Group in Australia.  So
who was correct?  They all were. 
So where are you at this morning?  There are two questions that you need to
answer before you leave here today.  The
first one is “Did Jesus truly rise from the dead?”  Remember the scripture that we started with 1 Corinthians 15:17 And if Christ has not been
raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 
The
second question of course is even more important and this is “If Jesus truly
did rise from the dead what does that mean for me?”  It’s not enough to believe here, in your head
if you don’t do anything with it here, in your heart. 
When Jesus said “I am the resurrection”  he didn’t say “I will be resurrected”, he
said “I am the resurrection”  and he is
our resurrection and that promise is as true today as it was when he said it.
A lot of people are going to miss Heaven by a
matter of inches. They’re good people, maybe attend church weekly, and have
even read the Bible and agree with it all. But they’re still going to miss
Heaven by a matter of inches, because they believe in their head but they
haven’t received in their heart. They have a knowledge of who Jesus was but
they have no experience of who Jesus is. And that’s tragic. 

Vindicated

The dingo did eat the baby!  Have you ever been vindicated?  You know, after someone lied about you &  in the end, it came out that you had been right all along.
A month ago, an Australian Coroner ruled that at least one dingo was responsible for the death of baby Azaria Chamberlain in 1980.  If you aren’t familiar with the story, it happened during a camping trip in the Australian outback when 9 week old Azaria went missing from her parent’s tent.  The parent’s claim that a dingo had taken Azaria was accepted at the first inquest but rejected by the prosecution and police.  Subsequently Azaria’s mother Lindy, was convicted of the murder and sentenced to life in prison.  Only after a piece of Azria’s clothing was found in a dingo lair in 1985 was Lindy released from prison.  However, it took another 27 years for the official ruling to be made that is was indeed the work of one or more dingoes.
In Jesus case, His vindication happened much quicker &  for Him it only took three days, from the time He died on the cross until He rose from the dead, to prove that he was indeed the Son of God.  Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

I am the Life

It’s funny, I don’t have a favorite German Chancellor or a
favourite African dictator but I do have a couple of favorite American
Presidents.  I have enjoyed reading the
quiet wit of Calvin Coolidge, don’t know what he was like as a president but he
said some quotable things.  Although it
happened when I was really young I have heard enough people talk about Camelot
to wonder how things would have turned out if JFK had of lived, sometimes I put
Bill Clinton on the list, but that’s just to annoy my republican friends.  But my 
all-time favourite US president would have to be Abraham Lincoln, and
that is probably true for a lot of people. 
Partly, because as I have mentioned before, he is a distant relative of
mine on my Mother’s side, but also because of his stand against slavery and how
he handled the entire issue of forgiveness following the defeat of the south in
the US Civil war, or as some people refer to it, the war of Northern
Aggression.  My respect and admiration
for Lincoln has only increased with my recent discovery that he was also a
vampire hunter.  A vampire hunter can you
imagine?
It was Abraham Lincoln who said and lived the adage “And in the end,
it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”  It seems that sometimes we are so
consumed with getting as many years as possible we forget to enrich them and
treat each year as special.  We become
caught up in a quest for quantity over quality.   And it becomes easy to fall into one of two
traps.  We either live like there is no
tomorrow or we live like there is no today. 
But Jesus was apparently concerned with how we live in the present and
also how we would live in the forever. 
There were times, very few but there were times that he raised the dead
to life, Lazarus, Jarius’ daughter and the widows son.  In that case he was adding years to their
lives, when he offers us eternal life he is offering to extend our lives.  And because of how he called us to live, and
love and forgive he was offering to put more life in our years, to make our
lives fuller. 
In the scripture that Colin
read for us Jesus told those who followed him John 14:6 Jesus
told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father
except through me.”  And in the
first part of this month we looked at what it meant for Jesus to be the “Way”
and the “Truth”.  Jesus didn’t say he
would point us to the way or show us the truth he stated that he was the way
and he was the truth.  And Jesus didn’t
say he was one way or one truth he said he was the way and the truth. 
If we asked people today how
they came to Cornerstone this morning we would discover that there are a
variety of ways to come to our church. 
If we were talking about direction you could arrive here up the Hammonds
Plains Rd. or down the Hammonds Plains Rd. 
You could come up Gatehouse Run or out Kingswood Dr.  and it would make no difference, because you
would have arrived at your destination. 
There are many ways to arrive at Cornerstone, and you could come via any
of those ways by a variety of modes of transportation.  You could ride a bicycle, or walk, or come by
car or motorcycle.  I guess you could
probably parachute in or land a helicopter in the parking lot if you
wanted. 
However
Jesus said very clearly and without hesitation, John 14:6 Jesus
told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father
except through me.”  And so very
clearly Jesus said there was no other way to find God and no other way to find
the truth about God other than through the Son of God.  And I know that sounds narrow and dogmatic
and it is meant to be, because the truth has to be narrow and dogmatic about
itself.  And if your vision of Jesus is a
much more inclusive Jesus than you have never read the story of Jesus because
in it not only does he say he is the only way and the only truth he also makes
comments like Matthew 7:14 But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult,
and only a few ever find it.   And
while I feel that every person should have the opportunity to hear the story
about Jesus I understand that not every person will embrace the truth about
Jesus.  And not every person will choose
to embrace the life that Jesus offers. 
So what is this life that Jesus speaks of?
It is a life
on both sides of the line.  If our lives
were defined by a time line most people would view it as having two finite
points, a beginning and an end.  Birth
and death.  And so when we talk about
life it is the period of time that fits between here and here. 

We live our lives up to the line and some people view death as the finish
line, at that point everything stops.  Stephen Hawking
stated in one interview “I regard the brain as a computer that will stop working
when its components fail. . . There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down
computers — that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

But the bible tells us that
death is a line that we can cross over. 
It is not an ending it is simply a transition.  It is not a period as some people would teach
but instead it is a comma.  So what is
this life that Jesus has promised us? 
Jesus told us that he didn’t come to show us the way, he is the
way.  And Jesus didn’t come to point us
to the truth he is the truth.  And so in
the same way Jesus didn’t come to show us life he is life.  And when he is in us then we inherit the life
he promised.  And what type of life is
that?  In John chapter 10 Jesus makes
this statement.   John
10:10
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill
and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.  Perhaps you are more familiar with
that passage from the older translation where we read John
10:10
The thief does not come except to steal,
and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they
may have it more abundantly.  And
the original word that was translated “abundantly” or “rich and satisfying” was
a word that meant:  “a super abundance”,
not just a full life but full to the point of flowing over.   Jesus didn’t tell us that we would just be
putting in time, or that we would go through life with our eyes looking at the
ground missing all the wonders that are being offered to us.  Sometimes it seems that some people are just
content to live, to make it from today until tomorrow.  Some Christians it would appear are so
looking forward to what life will be like in heaven they completely miss all
that life has to offer on earth.   But is
that what Jesus was offering when he promised his followers that they would
have a “Super Abundance of life”?
Joseph Dongell tells us in
the Wesleyan Bible Commentary “Nor will he (Jesus) congratulate himself if his sheep are
weak and scrawny, merely alive. Rather, he bends every effort toward producing
a healthy flock, a flock “abundantly” alive.”  
Even though Jesus offers that abundance of life he won’t force it
on us.  It is a gift, but like all gifts
it can either be received or rejected. 
Jesus offers us life, but in the end it will up to us to choose
life. 
Joan Baez wrote “You don’t get to
choose how you’re going to die, or when. You can decide how you’re going to
live now.”  Sometimes it’s easy to
look around and wish for someone else’s life but that’s not the life you were
given. And you will not be responsible to live someone else’s life.  Josh Billings who said “Life consists
not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well.”
Following Jesus doesn’t just
mean that we will be different after we die but that we should be different
before we die.  That our lives will not
only be beneficial for us that our lives will be beneficial to others.  And in many ways it is a different life than
the life the world promises us. 
So what is this the life that
Jesus said he is and by default what is the life that he promises us as his
followers?
John 15:12 This
is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.
It Was and Is a Life of Love  Do you remember the story of the Good
Samaritan?  Do you remember how it
started?  A man came to Jesus and asked
the question Luke 10:25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking
him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”   And so Jesus said you know what you
are supposed to do, what is it the Law says? 
And the man replied by saying Luke 10:27 The man answered, “‘You must
love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength,
and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’”  
Simple enough right?  That must be what Jesus thought because he
replies by saying Luke 10:28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will
live!”   Simple, right?  Love God and love others. 
And Jesus reminded his
followers that love would be such a defining factor in their lives that people
would say “The only way they can love like that is because they follow
Jesus.” 
But for Jesus love wasn’t just
a feeling it was defined by action.  It
was a love that reached out to those who were hurting, hurting physically,
hurting emotionally and hurting spiritually and not only did he reach out to
those who were hurting he did something about it. 
Too often today Christians try
to define themselves by what they believe rather than how they behave.  But that isn’t how Jesus was defined and he
didn’t say that is how we should be defined. 
John 13:35 Jesus said “By
this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one
another.”  And sometimes it’s easy
to forget that, because sometimes it is a lot easier to say we believe in Jesus
than to demonstrate that.  Which is why
when Jesus’ brother James was writing to the early church he had these words to
say James 2:18-19 But someone will say,
“You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your
works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one
God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble!   
 So Jesus didn’t simply call his followers to
believe in life of love he called them to live a life of love.  Which leads us to the second point.    Probably the best know sermon in the world
is the Sermon on the Mount and as a part of that we read these words of Jesus Matthew
5:6
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for
justice, for they will be satisfied.
 It Was and Is a Life of Justice
Jesus wasn’t just concerned about people in some nebulous wishy-washy way.  He sought to meet their needs, even if it
meant stepping outside the boundaries from time to time.  Last week we looked at Jesus statement “I am
the truth”  and that goes hand in hand
with Benjamin
Disraeli observation “Justice is truth in action.” 
And so people were healed on
the Sabbath, and tax collectors and prostitutes were restored and the woman
caught in adultery was spared.  And for
two thousand years those who follow him, those who make up his church, have
been called to live a life of Justice.    
We have blown it at times.  The
Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades weren’t our finest hours, but you can’t
just take them in isolation.  The
Crusades may have ended with Christians behaving badly but remember why they
started.  They started when armies of
volunteers left their homes and their families to make their way to the middle
east to defend innocent Christians and Jews who were being slaughtered by the
armies of Islam. 
Remember who
it was who founded hospitals and schools, orphanages, homes for unwed mothers
and hospices for aids patients.  When a
natural disaster hits it is the World Visions and the World Hopes and the
Compassions and Samaritan Purses who are first on the ground with aid.  When I travel through Africa the majority of
hospitals and clinics have been started and are staffed by Christian churches.  When someone had to take a stand against
slavery it was preachers like Wesley and Wilberforce who effectively got the
trade in human beings ended in the British Empire and it was churches that said
“No more” and began the abolitionist movement in the United States and who
organized the underground railroad to help slaves escape.  And right in the front of that movement was a
small denomination called the Wesleyans. 
And when
women didn’t have the right to vote, or make an honest living and were
considered to be little more than the property of their husbands it was the
church that took a stand.  And the first
meeting in the US of the woman’s rights movement in July of 1845 wasn’t held in
a lodge or a hall it was held in a church, a Wesleyan Church in Seneca Falls
NY.  And when the world was turning a
blind eye to the carnage of the civil war in Sierra Leone it was a Christian
Agency that turned the international spotlight on the atrocities that were
happening and it was that same Christian agency that organized Limbs of Hope
providing prosthesis for tens of thousands of amputees who had lost their limbs
to rebel soldiers, and that agency was World Hope the relief arm of the
Wesleyan Church. 
So we are
called to a life of justice.  Of standing
up for the underdog, or making the world and our neighbourhoods a better place
to live.  And so when someone has to take
a stand against bullying in school it should be the Christians kids, and when
someone has to take a stand against employers who exploit employees and the
environment it should be Christians.  And
when a politician drapes himself in the mantle of Christianity he better
display the justice and compassion of Christ. 
On the night
that he was arrested Jesus celebrated the Passover feast with his 12 closest
friends and it was from this meal that we have our sacrament of communion.  Matthew 26:28 (Jesus said) “For this is my blood, which confirms the
covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive
the sins of many.”
 It Was and Is a Life of
Forgiveness 
Even the greatest
skeptics acknowledge the love and compassion of Jesus.  And part of what he taught and lived was
forgiveness for others.  And yet 2000
years ago that didn’t prevent him from eventually being killed. And it was in
his death more so than even in his life that his teaching about forgiveness
became a reality.  It is easy to command
others to forgive when you don’t have much to forgive.  Up to the cross it seemed that all Jesus had
to forgive others for were the nasty things they said about him.  And yet on the cross, after having been lied
about and beaten and humiliated.  After
having been sentenced to die in the most painful and lingering way known to the
Romans he doesn’t curse those who betrayed him and denied him, he doesn’t
condemn those who beat him and nailed him to the cross instead we are told that
he looks down from the cross and says, Luke 23:34 Jesus
said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”  
And he calls us his followers
to live a life of forgiveness as well, and it’s not a suggestion it is a
commandment.  Matthew 6:14-15 “If
you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Sometimes when I talk to people they imply that they have
not yet come to a place emotionally where they are ready to forgive.  “I’m just not ready yet.”  You need to understand that forgiveness is an
action not an emotion.  It is something
we do not something we feel and like every other action or activity we will
choose to do it or not.
Her name was 66730, or at least that was the name she went
by. Her father had died in a German Concentration camp as did her sister. Her freedom,
her dignity, her humanity had been stripped away by those who imprisoned her
and yet she survived. And not only did she survive she went on to minister to
some of the very people who had been responsible for what had happened to her.  You probably know her as Corrie Ten Boom
and she said  “Forgiveness is
an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of
the heart.”  And I would suspect
that Corrie Ten Boom had a lot more to forgive than any one of us.
If we go back to the line of
life, we have been talking about how Jesus effects our lives in between the
lines.  How we live in the here and
now.  But what about on the other side of
the line?  That question was asked of
Jesus over and over again in the gospels.   
Mark 10:17 As Jesus was starting out on his way to
Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher,
what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  
He was asking “what must I do to live on the other side of the
line?”
It Was and Is Life Forever We are told in John
3:36
Anyone who believes in God’s Son has
eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal
life but remains under God’s angry judgment.  
You did see that there were two conditions there believe and obey?  It’s not enough to believe if we don’t
believe in him enough to obey, and it’s not enough to simply try to live by his
commandments without believing that he was and is the Son of God.
Perhaps you
are thinking “He preacher, what if you are wrong, what if there is no life
after death?”  Well then what have I
lost, but what if I’m right?
If you have never embraced the
life that Jesus has for you then today is the day.  The bible tells us in 2
Corinthians 6:2
For God says, “At just the right time, I
heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is
now. Today is the day of salvation.”

It’s All In A Name

Last week a gentlemen asked me if I knew Denny Guptill. Well before I was Denn Guptill, I was Denny Guptill but I wasn’t the Denny Guptill he was asking about.  Instead he was talking about D.P.(Denny) Guptill, who was the chief of Police in Saint John, New Brunswick during the prohibition years.  When I acknowledged that Denny Guptill was my father’s uncle, the man simply said “He was a good man.”  Later I asked him how he knew my uncle and he replied “I didn’t really know him, I was a citizen when he was the chief, he was a good man.”
A “Good Man”, that’s quite the testimony considering that D.P. Guptill has not been chief of Police in Saint John for over 70 years and has been dead for over fifty years.  Denny Guptill’s legacy was that he was an honest cop in an era when that was an anomaly and that he left Saint John a better place then he found it, and a generation later people still talk about it.   I wonder how people will talk about this Denny Guptill in 70 years?  How people remember me tomorrow will be determined by the choices I make and the things I do today.  Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

I am the Truth

6 years ago Al Gore was celebrated for his quasi-documentary
“An Inconvenient Truth”  Almost fifty
years after the event people are still looking for the truth surrounding the
assassination of John Kennedy and the suicide of Marilyn Munroe, there are
those who are convinced that we have never been told the truth about 9/11 and
don’t even get me started on the Moon Landing.
When I talk to people about the bible and Jesus they will
sometimes ask “How do you know it’s true?” 
Often it seems that the cry of the people over and over again seems to
be “What is truth?”  And that isn’t a bad
question, it’s good to know what is true and what isn’t true. Especially if you
are betting your eternity on it. 
But the question isn’t all that original.  It was asked 2000 years ago on the day that
Jesus was crucified. 
 It was a tough spot
to be in, especially for a career politician who had based his entire career on
compromise.  On one hand he had the crowd
to please and in the other hand he held the life of an innocent man.   The story is a familiar one, Jesus has been
arrested and hauled before Pontius Pilate the Roman Governor of Palestine, and Pilate
wasn’t sure what to do with this itinerant preacher from Galilee. 
It wasn’t that he was unused to conflict, in fact if you
looked at his record he would appear to have thrived on it, and when it wasn’t
there he created it. He had been sent there by Rome because Palestine was a
political hot potato, it is funny how some things never change.  There was the constant threat of rebellion
and terrorism and the Emperor needed someone who wouldn’t be pushed around, and
Pilate fit the bill to the t. But this was different, oh sure it was the week
of the Passover celebrations and there was bound to be a little trouble.  The zealots liked to point out that God had
delivered the Jewish people from slavery once and it wouldn’t be too much to
expect Him to do it again.  And then
simply because of the nature of the celebrations there would have to be extra
troops around Jerusalem,
just to keep the peace.
But he never expected anything like this.  The high priests who normally viewed Pilate
as the Devil personified arrived at his door demanding a favour; this could be
interesting and profitable.  Having the
Jewish religious leaders in his debt certainly had possibilities.  And it really wasn’t a difficult request; all
he had to do was to order the execution of this man Jesus.  There were several already slated for public
crucifixion, one more cross wouldn’t be difficult to come up and besides, every
once in a while he ought to look like the good guy.
And it should have been easy, interview the prisoner, grant
the high priest’s request and take the rest of the weekend off.  Nothing to it.  Except it wasn’t that easy.  First there was the prisoner, he was like
no-one Pilate had ever met before, there was a presence, a power that Jesus
had.  He didn’t appear to pose a threat
to Rome; Pilate
could find no logical reason to have him crucified.  He hadn’t called for rebellion, or political
overthrow of the government, the guy even told people to pay their taxes.  You gotta love that.  And then there was the dream.  Right in the middle of everything Pilate gets
a message from his wife saying, “Leave that innocent
man alone.”  So now he has an
angry mob, an innocent man and an upset wife.
And Jesus wouldn’t defend
himself, just kept smiling and talking about knowing the truth, what was it he said
in John 18:37 Pilate
said, “So you are a king?” Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I
was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the
truth recognize that what I say is true.”
Truth, truth, Pilate couldn’t
contain himself anymore and looked at Jesus and demanded, “What is truth?”  That’s
the question isn’t it?  What is
truth? 
And for those of you who are
familiar with the story of Jesus, you know that question had already been
answered by Jesus himself.  In John 14:6 Jesus told him,
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except
through me.   Two weeks ago we
looked at how Jesus was “The Way”.  He
didn’t say that he came to show us the way, or point to the way he said “I am
the way”  And he didn’t say he was one
way, or a way, he said very clearly “I am the way.  No one can come to the Father except through
me.” 
And as part of that statement
Jesus also said he was “The Truth” not “A Truth” or “One Truth” but “The
Truth.”  And while that might seem a
little dogmatic we have to realize that by definition truth has to be dogmatic.  If you can’t be dogmatic about it then you
don’t really believe it is the truth. 
And Jesus said he was it, and that there was no other way to the Father
except through him.  He didn’t say “I am
one truth and Mohammed will be another truth and Krishna is another truth, and
Buddha is yet another truth.”  He said I
am the truth. 
I prayed the closing prayer at
the CPA high school graduation a couple of weeks ago and another pastor prayed
the opening prayer, and it was a very elegant and well crafted prayer.  But in an effort to be inclusive and
political correct he invoked the name of Jesus, Mohammed and Krishna.  But in trying to please everyone he would
have alienated followers of all three. 
Because they can’t all be true. 
So what is truth?
The dictionary defines truth this way:
truth (trth) noun
1.         Conformity to fact or
actuality.
2.         A statement
proven to be or accepted as true.
3.         Sincerity;
integrity.
4.         Fidelity to
an original or a standard.
5.         Reality; actuality.
But there must be more to it than that.  What is truth?  Would we even recognize it if we found
it?  Winston
Churchill said “Men
occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and
hurry off as if nothing happened.”
And how would we recognize it?  What does it look like? Owen C. Middelton
made this statement “Truth is not beautiful, neither
is it ugly, Why should it be either? Truth is Truth.”  Which kind of adds credence to what Lily
Tomlin meant when she said “If truth is beauty, then
how come no one has their hair done in a library?”

John seems to be very fond of the concept of truth because
of all the times the word truth is used in the bible almost 20% of them are
found in the book of John.  Which is
really incredible when you consider that John only makes up 2% of the entire
bible.

The question is as real today as it was when Pilate
asked it 2000 years ago:  What is the
truth?
1) There is the Word of
Truth
In the New Testament letter 2 Timothy Paul writes to a young preacher
to encourage him and to instruct him.  A
good portion of the New Testament is made up of these books that are called
epistles, which is just a fancy name for letters.  And in fact these books of the Bible were
originally letters written to very specific people.  And so when I pull up 2 Timothy 2:15 for you we are actually reading
someone else’s mail, and this is what it says:
2 Timothy
2:15
Work hard so you can present yourself
to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be
ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.
Did you catch that last part of the sentence, correctly explains the word of truth.  What is the word of truth?  It the Bible, the word of God, the
scriptures.  And this contains what we
need to live our Christian life.  And yes
I’ll be the first to admit that there is certainly areas of the bible that are
open to interpretation, and we can argue and nitpick over some of that stuff
until the cows come home but the basics are pretty simple.  Let’s go back to a quote that I’ve used
before,  it was Mark Twain who said  “It ain’t those parts
of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do
understand.”  
God didn’t set us down on this earth without an
instruction manual, he didn’t expect us to figure out how we were supposed to
live by chance, he isn’t going to judge us based on a bunch of unwritten
rules.  Instead he gave us his word, and
his word is the truth.  If you focus on
doing the things you understand, on obeying what you understand you won’t have
time to waste on what you don’t understand.
God has given us this book for a reason and his rules are
for a reason.  And that is because he
loves us and cares for us.  When he says
a certain behaviour is sin he is trying to protect us from the consequences of
that sin.  And so when God says the act
of sexual intimacy is reserved for marriage it isn’t because he’s a spoil sport
it’s because he is protecting us.  And if
you don’t believe that then talk to the woman who ends up pregnant and deserted
or to the person who contracts aids because they were sexually active outside
marriage or worse because their spouse had cheated on them.
When God says do not hate understand he’s protecting us
from what hate will do to us not just to the person we hate.  We’ve been down this path before, we don’t
forgive for the person who has done us wrong, in many cases they couldn’t care
less if we forgave them or not, we forgive for ourselves, because forgiveness
sets us free from past hurts.
But this is only relevant to your
life if you read it.  If it sits on a
bookshelf or the living room coffee table and just collects dust it’s not doing
you or anyone else any good.  The truth
is in here.  
And as we read the Gospels we
discover that Jesus was the fulfilment of that the word of truth, all of the
Old Testament points to his coming and much of the New Testament points to his
return.  When Jesus said “I am the truth”
he was saying that he was the truth that had already been revealed to the
people of Israel, the truth that had been promised in the word of God, which is
why we are told in John 1:1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with
God, and the Word was God.  Which
leads to our next point. 
2) There is the Person of
Truth 
And it became apparent that
mankind was not interested in reading the truth or hearing the truth.  And so it became evident that people were
choosing to exercise their free will and to ignore the truth.  And because of that decision and because God
loved us so much, he made the ultimate sacrifice and that was to send his Son, John 3:16 “For God loved
the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who
believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
What’s that got to do with truth?  Well Jesus said  John 14:6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No
one can come to the Father except through me.” 
Jesus said he was “The Truth” 
not “A Truth” not one truth.  And
I know it sounds dogmatic but it is a characteristic of truth to be
dogmatic.  We know if we drop things they
will fall, why?  Because gravity’s not
just a good idea it is the law.  It is a
truth and we can be dogmatic about it. 
And does it make Jesus the truth simply because Jesus said
he was the truth?  After all when Richard
Nixon accepted the nomination for President he said “Let
us begin by committing ourselves to the truth—to see it like it is, and tell it
like it is—to find the truth, to speak the truth, and to live the truth.”  And that didn’t mean anything.
CS Lewis a
Christian writer from the last century said that because of Jesus’ claims to be
God that he could only be viewed one of three ways: As a liar, as a lunatic or as Lord.
And so if Jesus said
he was God and he wasn’t and he knew he wasn’t then he was a liar.  And not only was he a liar but he was willing
to die for his lies.  Worse than that he
would have been demonic because he claimed to be the only way to heaven and if
he wasn’t then he has lead countless generations of people away from God with
his lies.  But there is nothing in the
scriptures that would lead us to believe that he was a liar. There is nothing
in his life, his actions or his teachings that would make us doubt his word. 
Or maybe Jesus said
he was God and he wasn’t but he thought he was. In which case he would be a
lunatic.   Kind of like the guy who
finished up with his psychiatrist and the Dr. said, “You’re cured, how do you
feel?” to which the patient responded “Terrible, when I came here I was
Napoleon Bonaparte the emperor of France, now I am a nobody.”  CS Lewis says that making the statement that
you were God in a society as fiercely monotheistic as the Jews were would be
the same as claiming you were a poached egg. 
And again there doesn’t appear to be any evidence in Jesus life or
teachings that he was a lunatic.  No
other delusions, he doesn’t behave like a mad man.
Sherlock
Holmes said “When you have
eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the
truth.”  And so if Jesus Christ
isn’t a liar and he isn’t a lunatic than the only other answer is that he is
exactly who he claimed to be and that is Lord, the way the truth and the
life.  And if that is who he is, then we
need to examine what that means in our lives. CS Lewis
said “You can shut Him up for a fool or you can
fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any
patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left
that open to us.”
What place does the person of truth occupy in your life?  Jesus said “I am the truth” but that is
irrelevant to you unless he is the truth in your life.
3) There is a Spirit of Truth  I think this is one of the great promises of
the Bible, because not only does God give us the word of truth, not only did he
come himself as the person of truth but he’s still with us.  People say, “Denn I can’t live the Christian
life, I can’t follow the truth as laid down in the word of GodIt
would be so much easier if Jesus was right here with me, and when I needed to
have help doing what I know I should do he would be there for me.”
I know, and that’s alright to
feel that way because the apostles felt the same way.  When Jesus told the apostles that he would
have to leave them they panicked, but he reassured them in John 15:26 “But I will
send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth”
And in the very next chapter
Jesus defined what the spirit would do when he arrived, John 16:13 “When the
Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.”  And that promise is as real as it was
2000 years ago.  We don’t have to do it
alone.  He didn’t just say “Hey, this is
what I expect of you, you are on your own let me know how it turns out.”  We live like that but that isn’t how it’s
supposed to be.  He didn’t leave us
without direction.
So as Christians when we ask “What is truth” we have a threefold
test for truth, the Word of God, the Son of God and the Spirit of God, and
there will never be a conflict between the three after all truth does not
contradict truth.
The truth is out
there, but the question this morning is this Is the truth in here?  And how does that happen?  John wrote in
John 1:12-13 But to all who
believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
They are reborn! This is not a physical birth resulting from human passion or
plan—this rebirth comes from God.
But it’s more than
simply head knowledge; it has to be heart knowledge as well. 

It’s all about “U”

It is just a “U”, but it is the difference between something being right and something being wrong. Perhaps you know what I’m talking about; It’s the “U” that our neighbours to the south neglect to include in words like harbour, colour and saviour. Which is fine if you live south of the 49th, but on this side of the border it means you have spelled the word wrong.
People object and maintain that, because it’s the proper spelling in the States, it should be okay in Canada. And because polygamy is acceptable in Saudi Arabia, should it also be okay in Canada?
That is just Denn venting, and in the big scheme of things the fact that people are too lazy to spell a word correctly probably won’t matter much, it just makes me cranky. However, when Christians begin to justify sinful behaviour simply because society accepts it, that will have eternal consequences. 
It doesn’t matter if television says it’s fine, and it doesn’t matter if everyone at work and school are doing it; if the Bible says the behaviour is wrong, the behaviour is wrong. The fact that others call it right doesn’t make it any less wrong.
Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

Stupid is Forever


For those of you who doubt the health risks associated with tobacco and alcohol you have obviously never read the story of 38 year old Jeff Foran from Foreman Arkansas.  I came across this old story about how the highly intoxicated Mr. Foran jumped from his automobile to retrieve his cigarette which had blown out the window. The car was traveling at 100 kph!
State Trooper Jamie Gravies said that Foran suffered extreme trauma to his nose, eyes and chin and was lucky to be alive. It was the preacher Billy Sunday who said “Sin can be forgiven but stupid is forever.”
It’s easy to laugh in disbelief at Mr. Foran’s actions, but he was just hurrying the process along, he survived the leap from the car but chances are he’ll eventually die from lung cancer, heart trouble or a motor vehicle accident caused by his life style. And we wonder why he can’t see the writing on the wall.
Not as obvious, at least from the outside are the self-destructive things that we do emotionally and spiritually, the bitterness and un-forgiveness we lug around, things that eat away at us from the inside.  And if we keep doing them it puts us intellectually on par with the Jeff Forans of the world.  Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

I Am the Way

I am!  What a
statement.  I am.  When I was growing up I used to watch Popeye
and you may remember that he used to say “I yam, what I yam”  And Popeye was simply stating his acceptance
of himself.   And that’s not a bad thing, being comfortable
in your own skin.  That doesn’t mean that
we shouldn’t be improving ourselves, and that we shouldn’t embark on a life
time journey of self-improvement and education, but it does get to the core of
how we feel about ourselves, how we were created and our standing with our
creator.  I yam what I yam. 
But that was just a tangent and really has nothing to do
with what we looked at last week or what we will be looking at in the weeks
ahead.   Last week we looked at that
defining moment in Jesus’ ministry when he identified himself as God.  He had been engaged in one of those
theological back and forths that he was so famous for and the discussion turned
to the people’s reliance on being the “Children of Abraham”.
Have you ever met someone that
when they were challenged on matters of faith, or for that matter challenged on
their behavior their response was “Well I’ve been born again.”?  They may not follow the teaching of Jesus,
they may not obey the laws of God they might live like the devil but at some
point they prayed a prayer, recited a mantra or walked forward at a crusade and
for them there doesn’t have to be anything else. “Don’t judge me, I’ve been
born again.”  Although I firmly believe
that if being born again doesn’t make a difference in your life in the “here
and now” it won’t make a difference in your life in the “there and then”.  Just saying. 
That may have been another tangent, so let’s see if we can circle back
around and tie it in.  For many of the Jews
of Jesus’ day being a “Child of Abraham” seemed to be more important than being
a child of God.  For them it was the last
word, it didn’t matter what happened it didn’t matter what people said, it
really didn’t even matter how they behaved they were “Children of
Abraham”. 
And in John chapter 8 Jesus
challenged that, he said that their relationship with God was more important
that their relationship to Abraham.  And
that got them cranky, and they resorted to that time tested final argument, “Oh
yeah, what do you know?”  That’s a rough
translation.  But Jesus response is found
in John 8:58 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth,
before Abraham was even born, I AM!”  And
while we may think that Jesus was confusing his verb usage, and that he should
have said “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I was.”  Those who heard him that day knew exactly
what he was saying because in the very next verse it tells us that those who
were listening picked up rocks to stone Jesus. 
Why?  Because of his superior
debating skills?  No. Because he was
claiming to be over 1500 years old? 
No.   It wasn’t about when Jesus claimed to be but
instead it was all about who Jesus claimed to be.
From childhood every Jew had
been taught the story of how Moses had been called of God to deliver the
children of Abraham from the slavery of Egypt. 
They all knew the details and they knew that when God called Moses while
he was in the wilderness that he didn’t want to go, and when Moses finally gave
in he had one final question for God and that question is found in Exodus
3:13
But Moses protested, “If I go to the
people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’
they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”   And that is a good question?  It’s something that I would want to know.
“Why should the people believe me?  Whose
authority am I coming in?”  And God’s
response is found in the next verse Exodus 3:14 God
replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has
sent me to you.”   
And so when Jesus told the
people who had gathered that day John 8:58 Jesus
answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!” They
knew exactly what he was saying and exactly who he was claiming to be.  And when someone claimed to be God, for the
Jews that was blasphemy and the penalty for blasphemy was stoning.  You might be thinking “Well how did Jesus
escape?”  Well . . . we don’t really have
all the details.  What the bible tells us
in John 8:59 At that point they picked up stones to
throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.   And we don’t know if Jesus put on his
cloak of invisibility or if his disciples crowded around him or what.  All we know is that the plans of the people
to stone Jesus were thwarted. 
And that brings us to
today.  Over the next nine weeks we are
going to be looking at the different times in the book of John that Jesus said
“I am”.  And for those who care there are
22 separate instances where Jesus is recorded as saying “I am” in the gospel of
John.  In John 8:58 we see Jesus use “I
AM” as a statement of existence.  The
statement lacks an object after the verb. 
In the other twenty one instances when Jesus says “I am” he means he is
something, a predicate nominative follows the verb.  Not in this case, he isn’t saying he is
something, he is simply stating that he is.
Another ten of those
instances are self-identification, times when Jesus said “I am” to identify
himself.  An example of that is found in John
18:4-5
when Jesus is arrested in the garden,  Jesus fully realized
all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who
are you looking for?” he asked. “Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied. “I AM he,”
Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.)
In another 11 instances the
statements are metaphorical, that is that Jesus describes himself by comparing
himself to something else.  “I am the
gate”, “I am the vine”, “I am the bread of life.”  And it is those metaphorical statements that
we are going to be looking at over the next 8 weeks. 
 Have you ever gotten lost?  I mean really lost?  When I was a kid, probably 10 or so a buddy
and I got lost in the woods where we lived. 
Not lost as in “call the police and dogs the kids are lost” type lost,
but probably only a few hours from that point. 
Remember those were the days of “Have fun, be home by supper.”  And we were home by supper, but just.  We wandered in circles and tried to remember
if moss grew on the north side of trees or the south, we probably figured out
that the sun set in the west but we weren’t sure which way home was.  Now in retrospect, being lost in the woods in
Lincoln New Brunswick for four or five hours probably isn’t the same as being
lost in the woods in Alaska, but when you are ten it sure seemed like it. 
And what my buddy and I wanted
more than anything else right then was to find “the way” home.  We had already eaten all of our provisions
that we had packed, a couple of cans of sardines and some crackers and knew that
if we didn’t find our way out by supper that we would probably starve to death
and then get spanked.  And then we
stumbled onto a path that led us back to the main road, we were saved.   But as scary as being lost in the woods can
be, or for that matter lost in the city or lost in the mall being lost in life
is even scarier. 
In the scripture that was read
for us earlier Jesus has told his apostles about a wonderful place that waited
for them.  He told them that he would go
and prepare a place for them, and it would be a wonderful place in the presence
of God.  And it is a great promise, a
promise of home.  You probably are very
familiar with the passage, it is often read at the funeral of Christians.  John 14:1-2 “Don’t
let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more
than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told
you that I am going to prepare a place for you?”  And if you are old enough then you
might know it from the King James version where it says John
14:1-2
Let not your heart be troubled: ye
believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it
were
not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
  Which led to some really cool
songs like “Mansion over the Hilltop”. 
Now if we get to pick where we are going to live in heaven you can skip
the mansion I would prefer a house boat or really cool a tree house, I always
wanted to live in a tree house, but again I digress.   
After telling the twelve that there would be a place for them, for all
eternity he finishes by telling them John 14:4 “And
you know the way to where I am going.”   And
good old pragmatic Thomas answers by saying John 14:5 “No,
we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how
can we know the way?”
And Jesus responds by saying in
John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life.
No one can come to the Father except through me.”  This morning I want to focus on one
part of this triad, Jesus told him “I am the way”  Jesus didn’t say I can show you the way.  Jesus didn’t say “if you follow me you will
find the way” 
He Didn’t Offer to Show Us the Way
Thomas was looking for a map
while Jesus was saying he was the means. 
Have you ever gotten lost in a strange town and stopped and asked for
directions?  I can see from your faces
that the ladies know exactly what I’m talking about while the guys have drawn a
complete blank.  They understand what I
meant by “lost” but don’t have a clue what I meant when I said “ask for
directions”   You probably identify with Daniel Boone who
once said
“I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks.”
So, ladies you know what I mean,
men just imagine that you have asked for directions.  And the person you are asking says:  “not a problem, you just keep going on down
the road and take your second left, you go about 1 km, past where the Johnsons
used to live and take the third no fourth right.  Keep going until you come to the where that
big old oak was before it was struck by lightning and they had to cut it down
turn there and keep going until the pavement ends.”  And you wouldn’t have a clue where you were
supposed to go.
Now it would be a lot more
helpful if the person you were asking said “Here, let me draw a map”.  Maps are good, they don’t fold up real easy
but they certainly have their value, it was Earl Nightingale  who said “All you need is the plan, the road
map, and the courage to press on to your destination.”
And that is what Thomas was
looking for, he was looking for directions on how to get to Heaven.  Much like the person in Matthew 19:16 Someone came
to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal
life?” They were saying “Draw me a map”.  And many people see Jesus as a map
drawer.  If you follow the sermon on the
mount, if you obey the Golden rule, if you pray the Lord’s prayer, then you
will find your way to heaven.  But that
wasn’t what Jesus said.  He didn’t say “I
will point you in the right direction” or “I will draw you a map” he was saying
“I am the Way”.
If we go back to our example of
asking for directions, we said that getting directions would be better than
nothing, that getting a map drawn would be better than simply getting
directions but just think if the person you asked said “Tell you what, I’m
going that way, why don’t you tag along with me?  I will take you there.”
And that’s what Jesus said
“Travel with me and I will take you where you want to go.  I am the way.”  He didn’t say he was “a” way and he didn’t
say he was “one” way, he said “I am ‘the’ way.”   And in case they didn’t connect the dots he
clarifies by saying John 14:6 Jesus told him, “I am the way. No one can come to the Father
except through me.”
He Offered to Be the Way
And some people get bent out of
shape by that statement; they want Jesus to be one way to heaven.  You can take the Jesus way, or you can take
the Mohammed way, or you can take the Confucius way or you can take the “Just
be a nice person” way and they will all get you to heaven.  But that isn’t what Jesus said, he said John
14:6
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth,
and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”  Who did he say could come to the
Father by another way?  No one!
And you may be thinking,
“That’s pretty narrow.  Awfully
dogmatic.”  And we’ve all met people like
that.  I had a teacher once who was just
that dogmatic and narrow.  She insisted
that 1 + 1 = 2 and that 3 + 2 = 5 and that 7 + 3 = 10  and it didn’t matter if you were adding
apples or dollars the results were always the same.  And she would give any ground on that, she
wouldn’t hear any other options.
My mother was fairly dogmatic
about something’s in life, she would say “Don’t play in traffic, don’t stick a
fork in a toaster, don’t tease the dog or you will get bit and if you keep
tormenting your sister she will hit you, then don’t come crying to me.”  There are something’s in life that you have
to be dogmatic about because they are simply the truth.  And you have to realize that it
is characteristic of truth to be dogmatic.
You see Jesus didn’t come to offer us teaching, or to offer us direction
or guidance, he came to walk alongside of us and to be with us on the
journey. 
If you read the book of Acts you will discover that before Christians
were called Christians they were simply called “Followers of the Way”.  I think that is so cool, but funny how time
changes, I would have loved to simply called Cornerstone “The Way” but today
that sounds really cultish. 
Many people want Jesus to show
them the way to peace, or to show them the way to a better marriage, or to show
them the way to heaven.  But what Jesus
is saying is “In me you will find peace” 
“In me you will have a better marriage.”
A number of years ago the fad
was “What would Jesus do?”  Believers
were supposed to ask themselves that as they made decisions in life, what would
Jesus do?  And so WWJD bracelets and
t-shirts were worn, WWJD coffee cups were sipped from and WWJD bumper stickers
adorned Christian cars.   But really the question shouldn’t be “What
would Jesus do?”  The answer to that is
easy, he would come from heaven, live a perfect life, die for the sins of the
world and be raised from the dead.  The
question that we should ask ourselves as Followers of the Way is “What would
Jesus want me to do?”   And that can only
be answered when he becomes the centre of our lives.  When we accept that he did for us what we
couldn’t do for ourselves.  That the
sacrifice that he made for us paid the price and the grace that he offers
provides for the forgiveness of our sins. 
And so before we can know what
Jesus would have us to do we need to get a better understanding of what Jesus
did.  And we do that by reading His
story.  You see You Will Never Know The Way Until You Know “The Way”. 
This summer, I would challenge
you to read the Gospel of John, at least once and maybe a couple of times, that
is where our messages are going to focus for the next couple of months.  And as you read his story come to know Jesus
more and let him take you by the hand and walk you through life.   See how he treats people, the grace that he
offers and the love that he displays. 
What is he asking you to do?  To
love and to forgive? How will that affect your relationships with others?  How will that affect with yourself.   Observe how he worships God; listen as he
prays to his Father.  What is he asking
you to do?  To make God central in your
life, to understand that he loves you and wants the very best for you.  Understand that he is not only offering you
the way to eternal life but he is offering you the way to the life you want
here. 
In closing my your prayer be
the same as David’s prayer  Psalm
16:11
You will show me the way of life,
granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you
forever.