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There was once a boy with a magnifying glass who was fascinated by the ants in his garden. for he noticed that as they were behaving strangely, taking a long and dangerous route to get from ant hill to food source. Wanting to help he planned a shorter route and determined to get them to take it. He made various attemps, laying a trail of sugar from the ant hill to the food but although the ants ate the sugar they still went the same tortuous route, block off the wrong route with twigs and lego but the ants just climbed over. He even punished them for a while using his magnifying glass to burn the ants with the sun’s rays. But even this failed and it made him feel bad. So he decided to ask his dad who replied that there was no way to point the ants in the right direction, short of becoming an ant himself, and the boy rather sadly accepted that since that was impossible he had better turn his attention to caterpillars wisely ate whatever was closest to hand.
In our Gospel reading today John records Jesus saying. I am the way, the truth and the life, An audacious shocking claim even then, perhaps more so now in our multi-cultural, post-modern society where there many truths claim validity and people are encouraged to choose the way which best suits them.
So Jesus is the way
Like the little boy in our story, God had attempted many ways of showing people how to live, laws, prophets, etc. but very much like the ants, human beings stubbornly clung to the wrong route. Unlike the like the little boy however, God did not find something more interesting to do, and unlike the little boy he was able to make himself one with those he was trying to guide. Thus he was able not only to tell people how to live, but to show them in his life, words and actions the very best way to live. Life lived according to the manufacturers instructions. It is not an easiest way to live, it involves not only joy but suffering and obedience, remember that as Jesus is speaking thsee words, he is preparing to leave his disciples and face his death, , it is not an easy way but it is God’s way and a way we are encouraged to follow.
Secondly Jesus is the truth.
A pressing question for any-one who has concluded that there is a God is what is that God like and this was a pressing for the disciples as any-one else. They could clearly see that Jesus was close to God, that he knew more about God than any-one they had every met. So Philip says to Jesus “Lord show us the Father and we would be satisfied”
Jesus replies in a rather puzzled manner “ Whoever has seen me, has seen the Father. “ They are in fact one of the same. Want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. Jesus is God at a level we can comprehend.
A child once summed up this idea by saying that Jesus was the best photograph of God that we have. and if Jesus is God, then no wonder he can claim to be the truth, for God it is in God that all truth is found.
Thirdly Jesus is the life
There is a popular song which asks the question what if God was one of us? Continuing just a stranger on a bus trying to make his way home. The irony of this song is that God was once one of us – in Jesus. And in this morning’s gospel there is a particular emphasis on him making his way home – not on a bus but through his suffering and death. Jesus is saying goodbye, knowing what it to come but he appears to have huge optimism, because he is returning home and he assures the disciples he is going ahead of them to prepare a place for them. He is going on ahead of them.
The earliest settlers in the United States, were known as pioneers who saw themselves as settling and taming a wild and hostile country. They had no roads, or railways, as they expanded every further west they had to overcome numerous obstacles in order to create a way through. They went first, but others would follow.
Elsewhere in the Bible, Hebrews for example the designation, pioneer of salvation is applied to Jesus, the term is not mentioned here, but it underscores the whole conversation. Jesus is the way because he prepares the way, a way which we can then follow and the way leads to life.
So as he prepares to leave his disciples, he explains that the reason he is pressing ever onward toward his death, it is in order to push through it and onward to eternal life – a way that they can then follow.
So when we think of Jesus as the way, the truth and life life we see him as an example to follow, a way of seeing and knowing God and as pioneer making clear our path to eternal life.
Jesus said I am the way, the truth and the life, but knowing a way, does not automatically mean that we take. Understanding a truth does not mean that we live by it. We may decide that the way will be too long or arduous, we may not be able to face up or hide from a painful truth, Or we may consider that the destination is worth it the difficulty and the truth a light to guide us.
Jesus said he was the way, the truth and the life, are do we want to follow his way, heed his truth and receive his life, or like the little boy in our previous story are we simply going to turn our attention to something a little less challenging.
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