Sufficient: Way, Truth, and Life by Abidan Shah, PhD

SUFFICIENT – WAY, TRUTH, AND LIFE by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: Many kids go through a phase known as “Separation Anxiety,” where they don’t want to be away from their parents, especially moms. It is based on the concept of “object permanence,” where the child begins to understand that the object exists even if it is out of sight. That can be a tough stage for parents because the child gets upset when the parent is not in sight. That can also be a fun time for games like “peek-a-boo.” In time, the child knows that he/she will be okay even if the parent is not in sight. As we come to the sixth “I am” statement of Jesus from the Gospel of John, we will see how the disciples were struggling with some separation anxiety. Jesus, their parent, had just told them that he had to go away for a while, and they were troubled. This is part of our series called “Sufficient,” where we are learning how Jesus is sufficient for us. Main point: Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Only Jesus promises a real heaven beyond this life. Only Jesus has made a way for us to salvation. Only Jesus has access to God as his Father. Only Jesus promises to send a helper, the Holy Spirit, to assist us along life’s journey.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Context: The verse we just read is very familiar to us, especially if we grew up in church. Nonetheless, if we have learned one thing from this series, it is this: there is so much more to the Gospel of John than meets the eye. To truly understand the meaning of the “I am” statements, we must study them in their contexts, and the results have been mind-blowing, to say the least. Before we do that, once again, don’t forget that when Jesus made the statements with the words “I am,” the Jewish people heard the name of God. Even though, many believed, many also rejected him and tried to stone him, but Jesus didn’t recant.

Application: What do you believe about Jesus? Let’s look again at C. S. Lewis’s options again (paraphrase), “Jesus is a liar, lunatic, or Lord. You must pick.”

With that said, let’s study the context in which Jesus made his “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” statement. Back up to John 14:1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” Why were their hearts troubled? Back up to John 13      33 Little children, (Greek – teknia, only found here) I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, “Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you. 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (sounds like a parent) 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” 36 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” (that one kid who always questions) Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.” 37 Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.” 38 Jesus answered him, “Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.” Is it any wonder that their hearts were troubled!

Application: Have your hearts been troubled lately? God understands. Do you feel as if Jesus is hard to find in your situation? Trust in his promises.

Let us pause here and try to understand the context a little more. The passage we just read comes in the middle of what’s known as the “Farewell Discourse” in the Gospel of John. Keep in mind: All four gospels talk about the final night of Jesus with his disciples before he was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, taken to be tried before the chief priests, the Sanhedrin, Herod, and Pontius Pilate, and then unjustly crucified; but only two of them have a “Farewell Discourse” on the night before he was taken when he gave them his final instructions. They are Luke (22) and John (13-17). Our focus is of course on John’s Farwell Discourse, which is 15% of the Gospel. By the way, Farewell Discourse is a special genre or literary form that is found in some ancient writings and even the Old Testament (See Raymond Brown, Comm. on John). They are the final words of a famous or important person. In secular works, examples are the final words of Socrates (Plato) and Pericles (Plutarch). In the Old Testament, examples are the final words of Jacob, Moses, Joshua, and David. They have a certain pattern to them: reference to their coming death; review of their life; encouragement to press on; predictions or prophecies about the future; final warnings; and final blessings or prayer. Amazingly, the same pattern is found in the Farewell Discourse of Jesus in Luke and John but with some very important differences. Unlike secular works where many of the deaths in the pagan literature were suicide, Jesus was not headed to commit suicide. He was headed to fulfill God’s plan of redemption by giving his life on the cross for the sins of every human being. Unlike the Old Testament works, the focus was not on God’s faithfulness in the past but on Jesus himself. In fact, there are some very interesting parallels between the Moses’ farewell discourse in Deuteronomy and Jesus’ farewell discourse in John 13-17.

There are some powerful parallels between Moses and Jesus in the Gospel of John:

  • John 1:17 “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
  • John 1:45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whomMoses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
  • John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
  • John 5      45 Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.
  • John 6:32 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.

These are not just parallels but superiors. The Jewish religious leaders were even holding themselves to be superior, claiming to be Moses’ disciples – John 9        28 Then they reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. 29 We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.”

To the contrary, Jesus was/is not only superior to Moses, but his farewell address was/is far more superior to Moses’ as well. Deuteronomy 1:1 “These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel on this side of the Jordan in the wilderness…” In the following 34 chapters, there are reminiscences, admonitions, and promises. Jesus’ farewell discourse has the same elements, but it is far superior and a fulfillment of the Old Testament.

4 Superiors:

1. Not just the land but heaven.

John 14       1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; (the word “monei” can be a “room,” a “dwelling (place),” a “large house with many subsidiary living quarters,” or even “heaven as God’s dwelling-place” (see Exegetical Guide to GNT) if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

2. Not just a Prophet but Mediator

4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.” 5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. 7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”

3. Not just a Servant but Son

8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.

4. Not just Joshua but the Holy Spirit.

12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. 15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

Hebrews 3       5 “And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, 6 but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.”

Invitation: Only Jesus promises a real heaven beyond this life. Only Jesus has made a way for us to salvation. Only Jesus has access to God as his Father. Only Jesus promises to send a helper, the Holy Spirit, to assist us along life’s journey. Do you know him? Are you saved?

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