Saturday 9 March 2024


  Turn with me to John’s Gospel, Chapter 13, verse 31 to 14.v6

We are now on the path to the crucifixion, and until Easter Day, will be studying largely from John’s gospel.   

 The passage I have chosen to speak to you about this morning, is one of the best known passages in the New Testament, even to non Church people.

Jesus entered what is known as the Upper Room with His 12 Apostles for the Last Supper, and within hours of doing, so both He and Judas would be dead.  Judas would commit the greatest betrayal in history, as he left the room to ‘go out into the night’ (darkness) to sell out Jesus.

Jesus knew what he was about to do, and told him to do it quickly, and when Judas had left, Jesus told the remaining Apostles that the time for Him to be glorified had come. 

     What Jesus meant by this, it was the last time He would speak to them before He was to die.  His glory is, that He is on His way to the Cross, His work on this earth is over, and the crucifixion will also bring glory to the Father.

Jesus then for the only time, called His Apostles ‘little children’;  this was obviously an endearing term of affection, like a father who is about to go away from his family.  Jesus noticeably waited until Judas had left before saying it.  It is the end of a close relationship of three years, and time to say goodbye.   

Jesus was speaking to His disciples, shortly before going to the Cross, teaching and giving guidance, and that same teaching is passed down for the benefit of all Christians throughout the ages.

 He calls on them to love one another, a fundamental principle of our faith, yet we find some awful failings to obey that command. He was calling on them to stay together and be faithful to each other, something all Christians should show as an example to the world.  So often Christians are seen to be fighting with each other, due to some following a false line of teaching and not obeying Scripture, when they should be seen as a happy family.  This is a complete turn off to non believers

When Jesus said ‘love one another’, He meant we should get along with each other.  We are not talking of physical love or even sentimental feelings, but rather fellowship, compassion, tolerance and loyalty.  We are not called upon to ‘like’ everybody, indeed, there are people in the Church you just couldn’t possibly like, they are so unlikeable. 

If we are true to our faith, we can’t be at odds with each other, yet we find people walking out of Church if they can’t get their own way, or are not given the deference they feel due to them.  We should be able to resolve any issue calmly and amicably.

When non-Church people see Christians as a mixed gathering of different ages, different sexes, different backgrounds, getting on and being happy together, they will be inspired by us and respond, but if they see us as an arguing fractious lot, falling out all the time, they will justly say ‘look at those hypocritical Christians.’  .

Jesus tells them He is leaving them but they cannot go with Him, and that leaves them devastated.  They had only managed to stay together through His unifying spirit, otherwise they would have parted.   Peter spoke up first to plead to go with Him, but Jesus refused and even foretold what would happen to Peter.      

I can relate to the feeling of the Apostles when they heard Jesus was leaving them.  They had been in a three year intimate closeness to Jesus, and it is like the occasion when a Vicar or Minister gives notice he is leaving a parish, and both he and the members are sad.

 Jesus told them to not let their hearts be troubled.  The heart is the seat of all our emotions and feelings, and if that is disturbed our whole body and mind is.  He calls for trust in Himself as well as in God. 

Since we are also disciples of Jesus, and can rightly include ourselves in words like this, we must ask ourselves, "Is it wrong for Christians to be troubled like this? Are we expected never to succumb to moments of pressure, or to feel anxious and worried? Are we supposed to be cheerful and confident all the time?" Many Christians think this is what this verse means. But they forget that Jesus himself, was not immune to this kind of reaction to pressure. Thus it is clear that we may expect to feel troubled at times. Christians are exposed to pressure and danger. We have the record of the epistles to confirm this. The Apostles went through times of great peril, during which they feared and trembled. Thus it is not wrong for Christians to feel pressured and fearful 

In verse 3, the disciples were troubled that Jesus was leaving them, so He tells them He is going to prepare a place for them in heaven. 

This passage is widely quoted in funeral services, when people assume that everyone is automatically going to heaven.  I have taken hundreds of funerals over the years, and there has never been doubt in anyone’s mind that the deceased is going to heaven irrespective of the life led.  Nowhere in the Bible is this view upheld.  Jesus was very clear in His teaching that it certainly was not so. In parable after parable He spoke of two roads, of sheep and goats, of tares and wheat, of heaven and hell.

Whilst it may be comforting to believe that we can all get to heaven regardless of one’s beliefs, and we like to please our fellow men and women, it is quite cruel to mislead if it is not true.  It is like telling a blind person standing on the foot walk of a major road, it is safe for him to cross when ready.  If we say to someone who has no Church commitment, has only a tenuous belief in Jesus Christ, never reads a Bible or prays, that they are going to heaven, we are leading them astray.

Others say if you just follow your conscience you’ll be fine, but consciences become dulled and hardened.  Taking the lead from politicians, people can look you in the eye and lie without any qualm of conscience.

In this passage before us, He is talking to His followers, people who have made a personal commitment to accept Him as Saviour.  This is why it is so important for each person to make his/her own decision, whether to follow Jesus in His teaching, commands and demands He makes on us.

The Bible is all about commitment. We are reminded of the superficiality of commitment in our own time.  Less than 10% of people think God worthy of one hour per week to visit a Church.  Yet, if you were to ask people their religion, the vast majority would reply C of E and seriously consider they were Christians.  They would be mortally offended if you suggested otherwise. Very few people seem bothered to think of Jesus, even less to do anything about it.

It is easy to say I am a Christian, easy to say I read the Bible. 95% of the population today believe as long as you are honest, kind and helpful to others, and do no harm, you are a fully -fledged Christian

 Jesus speaks firmly, and rather profoundly, when He says not all who think they are to enter the Kingdom of heaven will in fact do so.

In every action of life we are confronted with a choice, where we must make a decision to do one thing or another.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus confronted us with a hard or an easy way.  He makes uncompromising and tough demands of commitment, which many people cannot take, and are not prepared to commit.     Then as now, some are ready to listen and walk with Him, learning to depend on Him, whilst others are just occasional supporters. 

The Church in general in its desire to be nice and friendly to all, with a craving to please society in general, has not always given sound teaching on this and some misguidedly preach that Jesus was giving a blank promise for everyone, when He is clearly addressing His followers, and if we do not follow Him our end will not be in the rooms of His Father’s house.

 In verse 6, Jesus makes a profound statement which goes to the heart of Christian faith and belief. He states He is the only way to God. This is not generally liked as it is seen as being too restrictive, too bigoted and intolerant, and to be judgmental is not liked.  Consequently some clergy will not quote it, whilst others just will not accept it.  Frankly, I think if any man/woman does not accept this verse, then they should not be allowed to preach, for they are betraying the Lord who said it, and the Church which they serve.

It can be hard to be a Christian in this country at the present time, and many find the going too hard and strenuous and the opposition oppressive.  We have come to a state in this country now, where a Christian person may not express a personal view, based on sincere religious belief, if it might offend someone.    Any open expression of our faith is likely to lead to suspension or dismissal from work, and even the most innocuous adverse comment upon human behaviour, will raise hysterical shouts of phobia or bigotry. There is so much harassment of Christians which is not reported here, and you have to listen to the American news channels to discover what is going on in this country.  This does not apply apparently to other faith speakers.    

I cannot understand how we can share in multi-faith worship and maintain Biblical integrity.    

Whilst I believe we should respect other faiths, and try to live amicably with them, but in view of the unique teaching of our Lord (here set out in verse 6 that He alone is the way to God) we cannot justify sharing in multi faith services, when our beliefs are so different, and it is matter of recognising the unique authority of Jesus.  Only Christianity maintains that Jesus Christ is divine, and salvation was earned by Jesus on the Cross.  But we have the words of our Lord Himself, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’. No one comes to the Father except through me’.  Jesus is quite unequivocal.

It is widely claimed, erroneously, that we all worship the same God and all religions have the same way to heaven.  Islam worships ‘Allah’, and see Jesus as a good man in the social sense, or a prophet at best.   Indeed, the Islamic faith states, ‘God has no son’, which is in direct contravention of Jesus’ nature.

We Christians worship the God of Israel; we worship a Saviour who was a Jew; we have Apostolic teaching from Apostles who were Jews; our Bible was written by Jews: no Muslim could accept that. We should each respect the right of the other in their belief, and try to live peacefully together.

I do admire the devotion and loyalty of Islam. Muslims in Islamic countries are Muslims in the full sense of the word, and they find difficulty in understanding how people who live in Christian lands reject their faith so completely.  Why, on the Lord’s birthday so many get drunk and engage in orgies. They will fight and defend their faith, and the men will not feel embarrassed or ashamed to be seen going to worship. Put many Englishmen in a Church and they feel lost and disorientated.

Jesus warns us that there must be a clear acceptance of His teaching, and total obedience to it.  Just to recite a creed and attend Church is not enough. We honour Jesus by calling Him Lord, and sing hymns expressive of our devotion to Him.  The lips that sing His praise, should never be the lips that challenge Holy Scripture. 

The temptation for us, as Christians, is to say what makes us popular.  Too many preachers have forgotten about being authentic; about being true to the Gospel we have been entrusted with by our Lord; to be true to our values, and to proclaim them without embarrassment and fear. 

Comment and meditation

In this passage, we find Jesus alone at last with his eleven faithful Apostles. The traitor Judas had gone out to do his deed of wicked darkness.  Free of his company, the Lord opens his heart out more fully than before. Speaking to them for the last time than before his passion, he begins a discourse which is of touching interest, which surpasses any other part of Scripture.

These verses show what glory the crucifixion brought to God the Father and God the Son. He said, now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in him’ He was referring to his work that he was sent to do, and which is about to end.  The next day, an event would take place, which however painful to those who loved him, is glorifying God the Father.

In all the agony of the death on the Cross; the ignominy and humiliation, hanging naked on the Cross, between two thieves, it was calculated to fill the minds of the Apostles with shame, disappointment and dismay, and without any glory.

But the crucifixion brought glory to the Father. It glorified his wisdom and love, and   showed him faithful in keeping his promise to be holy  by providing such mediation.   We should never forget the crucifixion with its cruel pain, and the price Jesus paid for us.

We see the importance Jeus attaches to the grace of heavenly love. As soon as Judas left the other eleven, Jesus came saying love one another..  It was to be the test of Christianity to the world, by this all men know that you are my disciples if you have love one to another.

This grace is not just a notion in our heads, but is to be practice in our lives, yet it is so often little obeyed.  We should see our brothers and sisters in Christ, and do all we can to keep good relationships.

We at this point move on to Chapter 14, and in the first three verses there are truths. We have fellow Christians in every part of the world.

Faith in Jesus is a cure for troubled hearts. The members who sat around that table at that Last Supper had believed already. They showed the reality of their faith by giving up everything to be true to Jesus. 

Never forget there are degrees of faith, and there is a difference between weak and strong believers. A weak faith is enough to give a new interest in Christ, and should not be despised, but it will not give comfort as would a strong faith.

We have a comfortable account of heaven or the future ahead of Christians. It is only a small piece, that we understand about heaven whilst we are here in the body, and little is taught in the Bible

Jesus said, I go to my Father and your Father. It is home of Christ and Christians. Home is where we are generally loved.  Believers will be at home in the life to come.

Heaven is a place of mansions , of lasting eternal dwellings. Here in the body, we are like at lodgings, and must submit to changes.  In heaven we shall be  settled at last, and go out not more.  There will be room for believers, for weak and strong Christians. The feeble child of God need not fear, none will be put out.

Heaven is a place where Christ shall be present. He will not be content to dwell without his people.  He said where I am there ye shall be also.  Our Savior who loved us and gave himself up for us,M shall be in the in the mind for ever.

Jesus stated, I go to prepare a place for you. Heaven is a prepared place for prepared people, a place where we shall meet Jesus himself waiting for true Christians. he has prepared it by going before us as our Head and Representative and taking possession of it for all members of his mystical body.

Jesus had said, I will come again and receive you unto myself.  Christ will come down to raise them from their  graves and ascent them to their heavenly home

As we look back on his first coming to suffer for us, equally will be the greatness of his future coming to raise and reward his people.  How much they must miss him, who live in a dying world, and know nothing of God as their Father and Christ as their Savior. How much they possess who live the life of faith in the Son of God, and believe in Jesus.  We have a friend while we live and a true home when we die.

Jesus said to his Apostles, ye know wither I go and ye know the way.  Thomas replied, denying they knew the way. 

This was a fair reply, for they knew little before they followed Jesus, compared with what they knew after Pentecost. .  Yet the Apostles knew more than many of the Jewish nation, and learned truths the Jewish leaders rejected.  They knew precious truths  more than they realized, for their hearts were better than their minds, and the same applies to many Christians.

We come now to those unforgettable words of Jesus, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except, by me.

Christ is the way; the way to heaven and peace with God. Jesus is the guide and teacher, and law giver like Moses.  He is the door which we passthrough to God. He has opened the way to the tree of life, which was closed by Adam and Eve. By his blood we draw near and have access to the presence of God.

Christ is the truth; the truth of true religion which we require.  Without him we know nothing about God.  Before he came the Jews were in spiritual darkness and did not have any knowledge other than Mosaic law.  Christ is the truth which satisfied every desire of the human mind.

Christ is the life; the sinners way to eternal life and pardon, the believers knowledge of spiritual life and holiness. Whoever believes in Christ has the surety of eternal life. Whoever abides in Christ shall bring forth fruit from the Vine.

We are called on to hold fast to those truths , to use Christ as the way, to believe Christ  as the  truth, to live in Christ as true life.

Finally,  we see how Christ shuts out all the ways to God and salvation to himself.

No one comes to the Father except through me.


May God bless His Word to our hearts and may He be glorified

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