JESUS IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE!
Dear Lord Jesus, You are my Good Shepherd. You gave Your life for me, so that I might live with You forever. You watch me even now, guiding me into the green pastures and living waters of Your everlasting Word. You protect me from all danger and provide for all of my needs. Move me to listen to Your voice and to follow You throughout this life as You lead me to heaven. It is in Your saving name that I pray. Amen.
“The LORD is my Shepherd!” These words have brought comfort to generations of Christians. They speak of our Savior’s care, concern, and love for us, His sheep. Let us listen to Him, follow Him, and rejoice in Him always!
A rest awaits those who faithfully follow the Lord Jesus. Sadly many of the Old Testament children of Israel hardened themselves against the LORD and did not enter into the promised land and so receive His rest. Let us not make the same mistake!
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them. Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 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. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep."
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
In Christ Jesus, Who is the Christ, the Son of the living God, dear fellow redeemed:
When God created us human beings one of the greatest gifts He gave us is our ability to communicate. Even the youngest of children is able to communicant his or her wants and needs. Our newest granddaughter Tonii, for instance, is not yet eight weeks old and still she has developed different ways to communicate—ways which her parents already recognize. When she cries in one way, she is hungry, while when she cries in another way she is wet.
All communication serves a purpose. That is especially true of God’s communication with us in His Word, the Bible. Our two texts for today are taken from the Gospel of John. John clearly states his purpose when he says: “Truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (Jn. 20:30-31). John was moved by the Holy Spirit to record the words of our text to demonstrate to us who Jesus is and why He was sent into this world by His heavenly Father. This He did so that our lives might be filled with joy and lived with hope!
Within our texts we have three of seven great “I AM” statements found within that Gospel. Those seven statements identify Jesus with God Himself Who, when asked by Moses at the burning bush “What shall I say to them (the children of Israel)…when they say to me, ‘What is His name,’” responded: “You shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM sent me to you!’” (Ex. 3:13f.) The LORD is the eternal present. He always was, always is, and always will be! The writer to the Hebrews captures that thought in connection with Jesus in the very familiar passage: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). The three “I AM” statements of our text combine with two miraculous signs found within their context to prove to us that Jesus is indeed the Christ, the Son of God, and through faith God would bestow upon us the gifts of both spiritual and eternal life. Let us, then, consider the fact that JESUS IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE! He is the Way—the “Door” to salvation! He is the Truth—Whose Word all true shepherds speak! He is the Life—the “Good Shepherd” Whose death gives life to the sheep!
The context of Jesus’ assertions that “I am the Door of the sheep” and that “I am the good shepherd” involves a mighty miracle of healing. Jesus, upon entering Jerusalem late in His ministry, saw a man who had been born blind. His disciples wondered whether he or his parents had sinned, that he was born blind. Jesus said that neither was the case, but that this man’s situation would bring God glory. He then spat upon the ground, formed a bit of clay, placed it on the man’s eyes, and told him to go wash it off in the Pool of Siloam. When he did so, he gained his sight. This miracle was performed on the Sabbath. The man’s neighbors were so amazed that they took him to the Pharisees who, upon hearing that Jesus had performed the miracle, were angry. In their minds Jesus had violated the Sabbath laws. You see the Pharisees observed 613 Old Testament commandments and had constructed an additional 1,400 different restrictions on Sabbath Day activities. They taught that if you truly wanted to please God and be right with Him, then you had to follow their lead. You had to keep all those commandments and observe all their 1,400 Sabbath restrictions. That, they claimed, was the way to salvation—the door into God’s presence and kingdom. Since Jesus did not accept their authority or follow their instructions, they concluded that He obviously could not have been sent by God. When the blind man who had been healed observed that “God does not hear sinners” and that “if this Man were not from God, He could do nothing,” the Pharisees cast him out of the synagogue claiming he was “completely born in sin” and should not be so presumptuous as to instruct them!(Jn. 9:31-34)
It was after this man was essentially excommunicated that Jesus found him, revealed Himself to him, and then shared with him and all who were listening, including a group of Pharisees, the fact that He, not the Pharisees or their teachings, was “the door of the sheep.” No one is able to enter the kingdom of heaven through the keeping of laws, for no one can keep God’s laws perfectly, and additional man-made restrictions are certainly no better!
The context of Jesus’ assertion that “I am the Way” was Jesus’ Maundy Thursday address to His disciples in the Upper Room. It was in the context of Jesus’ arrest later that night, His trial the next morning, His crucifixion and His death the following afternoon. The context would appear to negate Jesus’ assertion, for it would appear that Jesus’ way was only one of suffering, death, and what many perceived at the time to be defeat. But the larger context includes the sign and miracle of Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus indeed demonstrated on Easter Sunday His power over death. By His resurrection Jesus proved He is indeed the Way—the “Door” to salvation! Paul would later write that Jesus “was declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). Jesus was Who He claimed to be, and He alone could and did provide the only way back to God, and through faith alone in Him we can find salvation!
Jesus went on to explain that the Pharisees and all other like them who construct various forms of law-religion, demanding obedience and issuing false claims of future reward, were in reality “robbers”—individuals who failed to enter the door of the sheepfold and intent upon misleading and harming the sheep. Jesus used an illustration readily understood in His day, but perhaps lost for many of us today. In Jesus’ day, village sheepfolds would often be constructed with high walls to keep out nightly predators. At sundown the various flocks of sheep from a particular village would be ushered into the common sheepfold. There would be only one door, at which a guard would be placed. The sheep were thereby preserved from predators and thieves who would have to climb over the walls to steal the sheep, whereas true shepherds would always come to the door. Jesus said that all true spiritual shepherds would be like those shepherds of the sheep. They would return in the morning, often before dawn, to gather their sheep and take them out to pasture. The shepherd would enter the gate and call out to his sheep. The sheep would recognize the voice of their particular shepherd and follow him out the gate.
Jesus came bringing the truth of God to lost mankind. There is a reason why John in the opening verse of his Gospel identifies Jesus as “the Word” (cf. Jn. 1:1-3, 14). He came into this world, becoming flesh, in order to bring us a message straight from our heavenly Father. God cannot lie and would not lie to us, and so it is vital that we listen to Him. Later as John begins his 1st Epistle, he again alludes to Jesus as “the Word of life” which brings us into fellowship with each other as believers, but also in fellowship with both the Father and with His Son as members of the family of God (cf. 1 Jn. 1:1-4).
On Maundy Thursday Jesus identified Himself as “the Truth.” His death the next day caused even His disciples and other close followers to question whether or not what Jesus had told them was indeed true. But the resurrection confirmed everything that had been said about Jesus and everything that had been said by Jesus. He is indeed the Truth—Whose Word all true shepherds speak! For Jesus promises: “If you abide in My word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:31-32). Jesus calls upon us to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). I am to do so from this pulpit, but you are to do so as well around your tables at home, as you put your children to bed at night, and as you respond to your neighbors' inquiries about your faith.
Finally, Jesus is the Life—the “Good Shepherd” Whose death gives life to the sheep! Jesus’ statement, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep,” is one of His most famous and most important. For the man who had received his sight, it brought him great comfort in the midst of his excommunication from the synagogue. Jesus had already given him a great gift—physical sight, but Jesus could and would also give him even greater gifts—spiritual sight leading to spiritual life here in this world as well as eternal life in the world to come! The sign of his healing assures this man that Jesus was fully capable of doing whatever He said He would do.
Yet Jesus’ words, apart from the miracle of the resurrection, could leave us a bit perplexed. Yes, Jesus as the Good Shepherd loves us and is devoted to our welfare. Yet, were He to die and not arise, what good would a dead shepherd be? It is in Jesus’ resurrection that Jesus’ words “I am the good shepherd” and “I am the life” take on their full meaning for us. How could Jesus be “the life” if His body had remained in the grave? It is Easter’s empty tomb—that greatest of all signs—that affirms for us the fact that Jesus is indeed what He claimed to be—the source of life for everyone and the Good Shepherd, whose care for us in this life comforts and reassures us, even as He leads us faithfully forward to our heavenly home.
My dear friends, Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God! As He claimed, JESUS IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE! He is the Way—the “Door” to salvation, for by faith in Christ we are saved! He is the Truth—Whose Word all true shepherds speak! Let us strive to be such faithful shepherds seeking to guide all of our Lord’s sheep in the paths of His truths! He is the Life—the “Good Shepherd” Whose death gives life to the sheep! May we take great comfort and rejoice in these truths, which assure us of God’s grace and blessing both in time and throughout eternity! Amen.
Soli Gloria Deo! Prepared by Pastor Paul D. Nolting
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®.
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