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May 14, 2017

 

  

5.14.17                 5 Easter (Mother’s Day)                         - John 14:1-12ESV

 

1{Jesus said,} “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4And you know the way to where I am going.” 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. 12“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.

 

SHOW ME THE WAY TO GO HOME

 

A preacher stopped a Norwegian on the street and asked for directions to the Post Office.  After getting them, he said, “By the way, I’d like to invite you to come to my church on Sunday.  I’ll be speaking on how you can get to heaven.  Will you come?”  “No vay,” answered the Norski.  ‘You can’t even find your vay to da Post Office.”

 

Pardon the ethnic humor.  I’m half Norwegian and full preacher so I figured it would be okay.  The story seems to be a good introduction to the theme of the sermon today.  People need to know how to get to heaven and Christians need to be able to give them directions when they plead: SHOW ME THE WAY TO GO HOME.  We’re thinking of our heavenly home, of course, but on Mother’s Day we can think of our earthly home as well. 

 

The disciples in a sense were asking Jesus the same thing in this beautiful gospel selection, “Lord, show us the way to go home.”  Recall the scene: the upper room where Jesus ate the Last Supper with His disciples before He was betrayed, deserted, denied, and crucified.  This was a heavy moment for Jesus.  But He was more concerned about His friends.  He told them He was going away.  He promised them the Holy Spirit as a Comforter for them.  He called them children, reminding them to love each other as He loved them.

 

Then He assured them: “Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4And you know the way to where I am going.”

 

No they didn’t; not Thomas anyway.  Confused by the emotion of it all, perhaps, he said to Jesus: “Lord, we do not know where you are going.  How can we know the way?”  Poor Thomas, always needing more facts for his faith.  He felt like he was lost and he couldn’t find his way home.

 

Have you ever been lost?  I remember being lost as a child about 4 years old in Yellowstone National Park.  Somehow I got separated from my parents in a crowd.  (That’s before they had dog leashes for kids.)  I didn’t know where I was but apparently I didn’t start crying.  I just wandered back to the parking lot and found our car (which was left open in those days) and curled up in the back seat.  Well, Mom and Dad were frantic (big brother was along, too, but I don’t know if he was worried).  You can imagine – all those steaming geysers and boiling water holes and bubbling mud pots – they thought maybe I slipped off the boardwalk and fell in.  Finally, after searching for what must have seemed like an eternity, they decided to go back to the car, and there I was, asleep.  They were relieve and amazed I found my way to a safe place.

 

Jesus wanted people to know how to find their way to safety.  But by nature everyone is lost, hopelessly walking around in circles, falling off the path into the pits of despair.  This is worse than the stereotypes for men and women – men won’t ask for directions and women have no sense of direction.  (Just kidding.)  So Jesus explained clearly how we can find our way home to the Father’s house in heaven.  “I am the Way,” He declared.  “No one comes to the Father except through me.”  That classic verse at the center of this service changes our lives.  Not only should we be thankful that He has shown us the way home in the truth of the Bible, but also we realize that He is the only way.  It’s a one way street and it’s a narrow road.  Christians didn’t make Christianity exclusive; Christ did.  Try as we might to build a tower to heaven with our own good deeds, it will collapse in failure.  Try as we might to make our heaven on earth with high-tech gadgets and political dreams, it will self-destruct in futility.  There is only one way.  Jesus has shown us the way to go home.

 

But people are still bewildered.  Philip said: “Lord, show us the Father and it is enough for us.”  They wanted more.  Not just to look at the dream home on a virtual reality website tour.  They wanted to see the owner in person.  Jesus had just told them that if they knew Him they knew the Father.  “I and the Father are one,” He had asserted earlier.  Oh, cut them some slack-- that would be hard to understand for fellows who had spent about three years with Jesus as a regular guy, extraordinary in many ways, but a real human being nonetheless.  But even harder for anyone who wasn’t there to accept today with the skeptical attitude about Christian beliefs and negative publicity toward Bible teachings fostered by a secular society.  “Show me!” is what many demand, not just folks from Missouri.  How can Jesus be God?

 

Jesus answered with a twinge of disappointment: “Have I been with you so long and you still do not know me, Philip?  Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. . . Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?  The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.  Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” 

 

The marvelous words of Jesus have the inner force to persuade us to believe He is one with God.  The miraculous works of Jesus have the divine power to convince us to believe He is one with God.  The most amazing feat of all, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead which we still celebrate today is the clincher – Jesus was and is who He said He was: the Son of God, the only one who can show us the way home to heaven. 

 

Because we know this, by God’s grace, we can show others the way to go home as well.  That seems to be what Jesus meant when He told the disciples: “Truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these . . because I am going to the Father.”  In His ministry Jesus was often rejected – indeed, that’s why He was killed – only a handful of disciples remained after several years of intensive labor.  But when He went to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit, an evangelism explosion ignited, gaining momentum until the whole world has been exposed to the gospel.  However, because the birth rate of the human race exceeds the growth rate of the Christian church, we still have our work cut out for us, particularly as we see the signs of the times winding down to the end.

 

In this regard, if you’ll permit me a bit of a stretch with this verse, I’d like to apply it to the influence mothers can have on their children.  Not to excuse fathers, but it’s Mother’s Day, after all, and mothers are our direct link to God’s creation.  Often they are a model of God’s love for us, too.  They show us how to love even when it’s hard, when feelings are hurt, when minds are tired and bodies ache.  Frequently they set an example of Christian living, of saying prayers, of reading the Bible, of going to church, and so.on. 

 

That’s why it’s troubling to read articles like this one in World magazine a couple of weeks ago, entitled, “Rent a Womb.”  There’s a growing practice of “gestational surrogacy,” in other words, a woman is paid to carry a child to birth for someone who can’t have biological children.  In 2011, 1,593 babies were born this way in the United States.  Without commenting on the sympathy we feel for childless couples who dearly want children, there is a real ethical question of such a procedure when it involves homosexual men.  What is very disturbing is the assumption that the surrogate mother is unattached to the baby her body nurtured for nine months.  In fact, studies show that there is a profound sense of loss for the birth mother, and over time there will be more data on how the children feel when they find out how they were produced as sort of commodities to be bought and sold.

 

In an age when there is so much confusion over the roles of fathers and mothers – even the positive values of the nuclear family itself are questioned – we certainly need to strive to pattern Godly examples of this divine institution.  Dr. James Dobson, well-known Christian family psychologist and author, suggests that there is an identity crisis in our country which is the result of deliberate efforts to discredit the obvious benefits of the traditional family.  Perhaps it’s time that we show others the way to go home in an earthly sense too.  And if fathers are the head of the house, mothers are the heart of the home.  Their importance cannot be over-estimated.    

 

“Go ahead!  Make Mother’s Day!” a restaurant cleverly advertised today.  Let’s make sure, not  only to celebrate the gift of motherhood, but to show others the way to go home in heaven and on earth through Jesus Christ our living and loving Lord.  Amen.