Tuesday, May 28, 2024

“The Way, the Truth, and The Life” - 2024 West Branch Baccalaureate

“The Way, the Truth, and The Life”
2024 West Branch Baccalaureate
John 14:6 :: May 28, 2024

Congratulations to The West Branch Class of 2024!

It is a joy and privilege to speak to you this evening.

It’s a joy because I’ve been watching this class grow up for the last 18 years! I’ve been around a while. I actually remember when some of your parents graduated from West Branch! In fact, I remember when your principal graduated from High School! Yes, I’m that old.

So I remember when you were all born and when you first entered school. I’ve watched you play West Branch sports and do West Branch dramas and perform West Branch concerts. I’ve had my pastoral eye on you all, and it’s a joy to be present as you pass this key milestone in your personal journeys.

And it’s a privilege because I get to talk to you tonight about my King–the Lord Jesus Christ.

He is the most amazing Person Who ever lived. He’s the most compelling figure in human history. He’s the central subject in the library of books bound together we call the Bible.

The church family that I get to shepherd, Lanse Free Church, provided every senior with a copy of a short biography of Jesus written by one of His closest friends and followers, a man named John. We call it, “The Gospel According to John,” and that’s the document from which Kevin read to us this evening. 

Our church family has been studying the Gospel According to John together closely for the last 10 months, so Kevin, Addison, and Zane have been listening to the Gospel of John quite a lot. We actually just studied chapter 13 two days ago. You can watch it on YouTube if you’re interested.

Next time I get to teach, we will be studying this particular passage in chapter 14, so thank you for helping me cram for my next lesson!

In the passage that Kevin just read to us, the author John recounts an interaction he witnessed between Jesus and one of his other followers, a man named Thomas. This interaction occurred on the night before Jesus was arrested and killed.

Jesus was meeting in secret with His closest friends, and had just told them that He was going away.

You see, Jesus knew was going to happen to Him in just few short hours. Jesus knew that He was going to be betrayed by a close friend, that He was going to be arrested by the Romans, that He was going to be put on trial in a mockery of justice, that He was going to be mocked and beaten and scourged and crucified. Do you know what that means? It means a human being nailed to a pole and hoisted up in the air to die of blood-loss and asphyxiation, in total shame.

Jesus knew all of that was coming, and He was trying to prepare His friends for that by telling them that He was going away but that they knew the way to the place where He was going.

And, of course, all of that was troubling to them to hear! And so confusing. So, his friend Thomas says to Jesus, “We don't know where you're going. How can we know the way?”

And Jesus answered with one of the most amazing statements ever uttered in human history, that is what we might call, “Big, if true.” It’s verse 6 of John chapter 14. That’s what I want to talk to you about this evening. 

“Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

Jesus has a way of making everything about Himself.

Which, when other people do that, can be really annoying, right? Who likes it when you’re talking with somebody, and they keep bringing the subject of the conversation back to them? Like the guy who has top every story with, “Oh that’s nothing. I once did something like that but much bigger.” You know what I mean? Or people who present themselves as the answer to everyone’s problems. Politicians do that all of the time. “Vote me for me! I can solve everything.” 

So we often can turned off by someone who keeps making everything about themselves.

Except, if it’s true.

If everything is about Some One Person, then it’s really important for us all to know it. And to know Him.

Our church family has been reading this book, and we’ve noticed that Jesus keeps making everything about Himself. He has all of these “I Am” statements in this books. At least seven of them where He says, “I am” and then makes a bold audacious claim.

He says, “I am the Bread of Life.” 
And after this one, He has one more. He is going to say, “I am the True Vine.”

This is the sixth one in the Gospel According to John. Here, He says:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Big, if true. And I believe that it is true.

Way, Truth, Life. That’s more than just the call letters to a radio station. That’s everything isn’t it? Jesus is claiming to be the key to everything. 

Notice that He does not say, “I know the way to everything. I know the truth of everything. I know where life is found.” That’s right, but that’s not what He is saying.

He is saying that He personally is the way, the truth, and the life. And that we have to know and trust Him to get to the Father.

That’s another mind-blowing thing that Jesus has been saying all throughout this little book. He says that God is His Father. That He stands in an unique relationship to God. So that God is His Father in such a way that Jesus turns out to be God, as well. That God is Triune. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. Three in One. And that if you want to get to God the Father, the you have to go through God the Son, through Himself.

Wow! That’s a very exclusive claim, isn’t it? “No one comes to the Father except through me.”

That could be offensive...unless it’s true. We don’t get offended if Mr. Hughes tells us that 2+2=4.

“Well, that’s the not only way of thinking about that, right? I want 2+2 to equal 5. Let’s not be so exclusive here.”

So, we shouldn’t be surprised or offended to learn how the world truly is and Who Jesus truly is.

He is the way, the truth, and the life.

Let’s start with The Way.  That word “way” means the “road” or the “path.” Like “Allport Cutoff.” That’s the way we all got here today. We all took the Cutoff. That was our “way.”

The Class of ‘24 is on your way. You are on your path. And you are all going to find your way, the path from West Branch into all kinds of places. “O, the places you will go!” And, O, the ways that you will get there!

And Jesus says in an ultimate sense He is the Way. He is the Path. He is the Road to get to God and to get to truth, and to get true life. Jesus is the Cutoff. You can’t get where you really want to go unless you take Him. You see, He doesn’t just give you the map. He is the Map. And, in fact, He is the road.

Imagine for a second if you got lost out in Pinchy. Good old Pinchatolee. Easy to do. Cell service is bad out there in the woods. Maybe your four-wheeler broke down, and you aren’t sure where you actually were, and you found a dirt road and you’re seeing where it will take you.

And Kevin Hurley drives up in that big truck of his. And he rolls down the window and says, “Do you need help?” And you admit to him that you got lost and you could use some directions.

And Kevin (who’s a big talker, we all know) says, “I could do that. I could tell you how to get to Kylertown or wherever. But I could also just take you. Hop up here, and I’ll get you home.”

If that happened, then Kevin would be your “way.” Right? Not just the map but the transportation. Your ride.

That’s what Jesus is saying about Himself! But He’s not just getting you to Kylertown. He’s getting you to God the Father Himself. And He says that are not many paths to get there. There’s just one. And it’s Him. So we need to follow and trust in Him. He’s our ride.

And He is The Truth. That means that He is ultimate reality. He is the way things really are. That’s quite a claim, isn’t it?

I hope that you have learned a lot of truth here at West Branch over the years. And how to discover what the truth is.

The scientific method, for example, for understand the laws of nature. The tools of historical research to find out what happened in the past. The fundamental rules of mathematics. And even deeper truths that you can only discover through literature and the arts.

Jesus says that when you get the bottom of all meaning and all truth, you find Him there. And He will show what is truly true. In fact, He will show you God Himself. Because He is God Himself.

In very next sentence, Jesus said, “If you know me, you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him (John 14:7). There is nothing more true than that!

And He also says that He is “The Life.” Not just that He knows all about life or knows where life is. But that He is where life is. And He is what life is all about. And that He is the true source of true life. You aren’t really living unless you have Him. And if you want to live forever, you need Him.

That’s how big He goes here!

You see, Jesus is not just inspiring. I would hate if you came to your Baccalaureate and you just heard that Jesus is really inspiring. And you should find your inspiration in Him. No, Jesus is The Life. And you should make your life about Him. And you should find your life in Him.

That’s why He came. That’s why He was sent. The most famous sentence in the Gospel of John isn’t this one in chapter 14, it’s this one in chapter 3, verse 16.

“For God so loved the world [that’s you and me] that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16 NIVO).

God the Father gave His Son, Jesus, so that if we believe in Him, we get eternal life. Because He is The Life.

Big, if true! And I believe it is.

In turns out, that we get this life because of His death. Jesus knew what was coming for Him in just a few short hours. The pain, the shame, the torture, the death. The Bible says that He went through all that because He was taking on our sin for us. The way He became the way was through the Cross. The truth is that He became sin for us and bore the penalty for our sins (2 see Corinthians 5:21). And it was through His death that we get life.

Because He came back to life. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead. That’s in chapter 20 of the Gospel According to John. Check it out for yourself. He was so much “The Life” that He couldn’t stay dead!

And what’s even more amazing is that He offers Himself to us all today. You see the annoying people who make everything about themselves, are normally looking out for themselves, too. But Jesus gives Himself to all who will come to Him. He is all of this. The Way, the Truth, and the Life. And He offers all of that to us if we will put our trust and faith in Him.

It is an exclusive offer. “No one comes to the Father except through me.” But we can all be included in this exclusive offer. Everyone who comes through Jesus gets to the Father.

Jesus makes everything about Himself because everything is about Him!

He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Do you believe that? I don’t expect that everyone here is there yet. But everyone here is invited to hop on for the ride.

West Branch Class of ‘24, may the Lord bless you in all of your future endeavors. 

We shall be watching to see all of the amazing places you go and all of the amazing things you do as you drive off from 444 Allport Cutoff. 

But wherever you go and whatever you do, you’ve got to decide for yourself whether or not you believe what Jesus told Thomas on that fateful night.

“Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”