TEACH ME YOUR WAY, O LORD, AND I WILL WALK IN YOUR TRUTH; GIVE ME AN UNDIVIDED HEART, THAT I MAY FEAR YOUR NAME. (Psalm 86: 11)
WELCOME TO OUR SUNDAY WEB-WORSHIP!
Old Testament Reading: – EXODUS 13: 21 – 22.
BY DAY THE LORD WENT AHEAD OF THEM IN A PILLAR OF CLOUD TO GUIDE THEM ON THEIR WAY AND BY NIGHT IN A PILLAR OF FIRE TO GIVE THEM LIGHT, SO THAT THEY COULD TRAVEL BY DAY OR BY NIGHT. NEITHER THE PILLAR OF CLOUD BY DAY NOR THE PILLAR OF FIRE BY NIGHT LEFT ITS PLACE IN FRONT OF THE PEOPLE.
New Testament Reading: JOHN 14: 1 – 7.
“DO NOT LET YOUR HEARTS BE TROUBLED. TRUST IN GOD; TRUST ALSO IN ME. IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE ARE MANY ROOMS; IF IT WERE NOT SO, I WOULD HAVE TOLD YOU. I AM GOING THERE TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU. AND IF I GO AND PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU, I WILL COME BACK AND TAKE YOU TO BE WITH ME THAT YOU ALSO MAY BE WHERE I AM. YOU KNOW THE WAY TO THE PLACE WHERE I AM GOING.” THOMAS SAID TO HIM, “LORD, WE DON’T KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING, SO HOW CAN WE KNOW THE WAY?” JESUS ANSWERED, “I AM THE WAY AND THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE. NO-ONE COMES TO THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH ME. IF YOU REALLY KNEW ME, YOU WOULD KNOW MY FATHER AS WELL. FROM NOW ON, YOU DO KNOW HIM AND HAVE SEEN HIM.”
Exodus from Egypt took forty years of wandering in the wilderness for God’s people. This was a time of hardship and miracles, but also a period of faithful experience of God’s loving presence in their midst, leading, protecting and feeding them all the way to the Promised Land. Gradually they realized that the Lord never gives up on His people; salvation is not a promise, but the reality of God’s Peace.
Because of the Coronavirus Pandemic life in the world is been turned upside down and troubled hearts are so common today. Confusion, uncertainty, unpredictability surrounds the news every day. Our hearts are becoming more and more troubled, indeed. What can a Christian do? Is it enough to hear Jesus saying again, as He said to His disciples long ago: – Do not let your hearts be troubled?!
It was the final night of Jesus’ life. By this time next day Jesus will have been executed on the cross and placed in a tomb. Judas has already been identified as the betrayer and Jesus is left with the other eleven disciples. After telling them to love one another as Jesus has loved them, He tells that He is going to lay down His life for them and that Peter will disown Him three times before the rooster crows. Then, these verses mark the beginning of Jesus’ farewell talk. He seeks to bring comfort to His disciples, but they were simply unable to understand it. What Jesus meant was that everything in this world is temporary. One day all of it will be gone, including ourselves, so we need to learn to trust even, when we do not see the substance of our faith. This is why Jesus said, – do not let your hearts be troubled. Telling His disciples that He knows that they trust in God, Jesus reminds them of His Resurrection, often told already, and therefore was this demand to believe in Him also. He needs to leave them – He said – going to His Father in Heaven, to prepare a place for them there, and then, coming back, will take them to be with Him in the Father’s house, together. It will be a continual abiding, dwelling with God as we relate to God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – all at once.
There is no mention of prayer here. The disciples were so busy asking and listening rather than praying. Whenever I wake up during a night and my mind starts spinning and I suddenly find myself contemplating things, – including the Covid-19 Pandemic, – my heart becomes troubled and falling back to sleep is really difficult. Believing in the power of prayer, I cross my fingers in the Christian way and concentrate on the beautiful words of the Lord’s Prayer; gradually my peacefulness is restored, my troubled heart calms down and sleep returns. I learned this from my father, who practiced it during his time spent in a Soviet concentration camp, and afterwards. Try, and you will find it more helpful than the anxious thoughts of the day. That is the message Jesus was trying to get across to the disciples, to calm their spirits, to bring them confidence and comfort in the hard and testing times ahead of them: – do not let your hearts be troubled!
Thomas was cleverer than we think. In fact, he quoted Jesus in his question about not knowing where he is going, from John 13: 36 , – where Jesus replied: – Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later. Jesus’ response is powerful. This is the sixth statement made with “I AM”: – I am the way and the truth and the life. The emphasis of the declaration is on “THE WAY”. Jesus is the WAY to the Father because He is the TRUTH OF GOD and the LIFE OF GOD. Jesus is the TRUTH because He embodies the supreme revelation of God. He is the disclosure of God. Jesus does not simply say that He is blazing a trail and commanding others to take the way He takes. Rather, that He is the way. The reality and truth of God are bound in Jesus. This is the heart of Christian Dogmatic: – “True saving faith requires continuing belief in Jesus”, and: “Apart from Jesus, there is no salvation”. The TRUTH is that Jesus is the only WAY to a restored, eternal LIFE.
Verse 7 elaborates. If you know Jesus, then you know the Father. If you believe in Jesus, then you believe in God the Father. If you have a relationship with Jesus, then you have a relationship with the Father. Imagine what the first century followers of Jesus were called by the world, and even how they called themselves. They were called: – THE WAY (Book of Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 22: 4; 24:14, 22). This is how we must interpret Jesus’ descriptions and promises here in the Gospel of John. Jesus is light and we are to be the light. Jesus is the way and we are to be the way that leads others to God. The TRUTH is that the Promised Land could been reached by God’s people only through the guidance and saving presence of the Lord.
The challenge for these disciples would was to not believe in what their eyes would see in less than 24 hours. Jesus will be arrested and killed. But their faith was not based on what their eyes would witness over the next 24 hours, because Jesus already promised that He would be Raised on the third day, and whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16), and this is the answer for our troubled hearts. Do not believe in what is going on in this world. Believe in God and believe in Jesus. God is not dead. God is ruling. God is at work in His Creation. God is accomplishing His purposes. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Here, Jesus gives the prescription for troubled hearts. Have faith in Jesus. He prepared a place for you through the cross. He promised to come back and bring to Himself all those who believe in Him. We know the way to our Father’s House: Jesus. Follow Jesus. Jesus is the WAY, because if you know Him, then you have the access to God the Father, and Jesus reveals the TRUTH in order to offer us the highest quality of LIFE, found only in God.
In verse 27 of Chapter 14 Jesus said: – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. AMEN.
LET US PRAY:
Almighty Lord God, thank You that we can place ourselves in Your care, knowing that the same hands have fashioned the universe and brought this world into being through Your love in Jesus Christ our Saviour. Teach us to never underestimate Your strength; never to lose sight of the power of love, the might of truth, or the force of good, which is life in its fullness. Remind us that nothing in heaven or earth, the present or the future, will finally be able to frustrate Your purpose, for You are able to turn sorrow to joy, darkness to light, and death to life – Your love being stronger than all. Living God, thank You that though we are weak, you are strong, always there when we need You, to protect, defend and support. Thank You that in a world of change, You are our rock; that in a world of uncertainty, You are solid ground beneath our feet; that in a world of danger, You are our refuge. Thank You that, wherever life’s journeys take us, You are always there, our strength and salvation in time of need: WAY, TRUTH, and LIFE in Jesus Christ our Lord. Help us, to glimpse Your light even when life is at its darkest. Though the night of sorrow, fear, pain or doubt closes in, may a glimmer of Your love shine through – a glimpse of Your presence, sufficient to sustain faith, nourish hope and impart peace into troubled hearts. When troubles turn life sour, leaving a nasty taste of faithlessness or threatening the goals we have worked for, save us from resentment or self-pity, from growing bitter. Help us to trust in Your transforming touch, able to work in all things for good. Thank You, Lord, for time and again, and in all kinds of ways, You have come to our aid and delivered us. Though danger threatens, and trouble is near, teach us that we have nothing to fear. Be with us and hear our spoken and unspoken prayers … for Your Church… the World… those who struggle with life…for our Congregation … loved ones…and ourselves… through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. AMEN.
THE LORD’S PRAYER: – OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN…
SHOW ME THY WAYS, O Lord; Thy paths, O teach Thou me: and do Thou lead me in Thy truth, therein my teacher be:
Thy tender mercies, Lord, I pray Thee to recall, and loving-kindnesses; for they have been through ages all.
My sins and faults of youth do Thou, O Lord, forget: after Thy mercy think on me, and for Thy goodness great.
God good and upright is; the way He’ll sinners show. The meek in judgement He will guide and make His path to know.
The whole paths of the Lord are truth and mercy sure, to those that do His covenant keep, and testimonies pure.
To Thee be glory, Lord, Whom heaven and earth adore, to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, One God for evermore. Amen.
…IN ALL…THINGS WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERORS THROUGH HIM WHO LOVED US… NEITHER DEATH NOR LIFE, NEITHER ANGELS NOR DEMONS, NEITHER THE PRESENT NOR THE FUTURE, NOR ANY POWERS, NEITHER HEIGHT NOR DEPTH, NOR ANYTHING ELSE IN ALL CREATION, WILL BE ABLE TO SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD. (Romans 8: 37 – 39) AMEN.