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The Way, the Truth, the Life

I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me.

Jesus’ response to Thomas’s assertion that they (the disciples) could not possibly know the way to where Jesus was going has left us with one of the most memorable verses in the New Testament.

This section of John’s gospel has comforted mourners, inspired songs and billboards, and raised expectations of success through prayer.

One of the songs of our Sunday School a few years back was an old favourite:

I am the way the truth and the life, that’s what Jesus said. It goes on…

Without the way there is no going
Without the truth there is no knowing
Without the life there is no living

I am the way the truth and the life

That’s what Jesus said.

So here pretty much is the kernel of going forward in the life of a Christian...

  • Following in the way of Christ
  • Growing in our understanding and
  • Living a life of faith and love.

Well, that could be our sermon, but I know you won’t let me get away so quickly.

So before we have a closer look at the gospel reading, let’s also have a look at this wisdom from Peter’s epistle.

In the epistle, Peter is saying is that we have to yearn for faith in Christ with as much determination as a baby yearns for food. If you have heard a baby cry, demanding food, you will know something about determination.  

When we do that, there is every possibility that our faith will grow strong and stable - in the same way that a building is made strong when it is anchored at each corner with the right shaped corner-stone - the stone that binds the walls together securely.

Of course, we are not to be inanimate objects like bricks or stones,

We are to be living stones that together form a faith community.

It is a powerful metaphor. Together in community, we are called to echo God's praise and to form a place where God's presence is experienced, living stones, and holy priests, all of us.  Together, we form the church, living breathing stones surrounded by manufactured stones, the ones which go together to form the material structure of this church - a building which is visible and recognisable as a place of worship. 

Whatever a church building is made from, it holds many memories.  Memories of people, events, experiences which cover a whole range of human emotions.  

Experiences of joy, happiness - welcoming people, weddings, baptisms; 

experiences of sadness, funerals - the moving on of people to other places; 

experiences of people, fellowship and worship, experiences of God.  

It's no wonder then, that people identify strongly with church buildings, because so many intimate, personal, life-shaping things happen within these walls.

A church I went to in Sydney seemed to have its focus almost entirely on its building – getting more stained glass windows, memorials to everything, plaques and flags – and almost nothing about the work of mission and outreach. 

I am the first to admit that I am not a person who is particularly interested in the idea of the church as a building – more a place of gathering of God’s people and as a launchpad for mission and outreach. Nevertheless I have come to see that it is in the reality of gathering and the experiences of worship and fellowship; and in doing our work of mission, that we build a memory of God’s presence and purpose among us – in Jesus Christ.

The people of the early church to whom Peter was writing were being hounded and persecuted for their faith and Peter probably wanted to reassure them that they could stand firm and strong, that they could face the challenges being thrust at them - because they were held together, supported and strengthened by Jesus Christ -   the Living Cornerstone. 

The sure and certain stone that Peter wrote about is the evidence of God's unfailing relationship with people - with us - the evidence of how much we are valued and loved by God.  Jesus is the one who gives us direction and support.   

And of course, while the cornerstone is essential, all the other stones and bricks are necessary to support and sustain the structure of the church – materially as well as in its work.

Just as we are dependent upon Christ for our spiritual strength, so we are dependent on one another as integral parts of this community.  More and more we need to demonstrate that the mortar or 'super-glue' that binds us together is the same love that Jesus evidences for us simply by being the cornerstone.

We are going to discover this truth in a special way this year, as we face new and different challenges, as we all step up, muscle up to be a resilient and vibrant community of faith. Each one of us is important and necessary.

Our gospel reading takes us a bit further - different metaphors this time - Jesus as the way, the truth and the life.  These verses spell out for us the nature of the super glue that binds us together and the way to go about the binding process.

I don't know how you manage when you're in a strange place and ask for directions - but when someone says to me “Take the first on the right, then the second on the left, go past where Joe used to live, take the third on the right, and the road you want is fourth on the left” - I'm lost before I've even begun.  But suppose the person says “Come, I'll take you where you want to go”.  

In that situation, the person to us IS the way and we cannot get lost.  

Jesus identifies himself with all our experiences of life through being human and experiencing life with all its joy and pain.

He not only told us to love one another, he demonstrated that love with his life and his death.  He didn't just give us directions to read and follow as best as we can.  He gives us a lasting relationship that continues with us every step of the way.  

Look at the promises he gives in the last verses of the gospel reading - Anyone who has faith in me, says Jesus, will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father...I will do whatever you ask in my name.

It is interesting to turn back to the previous chapter to see what Jesus had actually been doing just before he spoke these words - as a pointer to what weight be doing.  We read - He wrapped a towel around his waist and began to wash the disciples’ feet. (13:4,5)

… and he goes on to say in the next chapter that greater love has no one than this - that one lay down one's life for one's friends. (15:12,13)

Jesus didn't just say things, he did them, he revealed the amazing truth that God loves us.

It is when we follow in His way, that we discover that he is life - the cornerstone, the foundation, the source of the confidence that no matter what life throws at us, nothing can shake or take away the knowledge that we are loved and accepted by God.

In these two readings today we see a reassurance that the strength and energising power and love of God are always there to hold us together.  The challenge is to share these assurances in such a way that it is evident that the mark of our common life is love.

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

Amen

 

Bill Lang is secretary of the church council and convenor of the communications group. He has been a regular preacher at TUC since he and Jenny joined the congregation in 1975. He is a presbytery representative, and a member of the Karralika outreach team and the Child Care Advisory Group.

Quote for today

...But you know Him, for He lives with you, and will be in you. John14:17

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P: (02) 6231 0488
F: (02) 6296 3403

Comrie Street
Wanniassa ACT 2903

PO Box 423
Erindale Centre ACT 2903 

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About Our Church

Our faith community began in 1975 as a small ecumenical gathering of people who settled in the new Canberra township of Tuggeranong. We have grown with the Tuggeranong Community, and our parish centre is the hub for our work, as a place of worship, of gathering and ministry.

We aim to help people have life to the full. We welcome people into a our Christian community where they can connect with God, with one another and with opportunities to make a difference in our changing world.

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