Thursday, May 3, 2012

for Friday (May 4) Gospel: do not be troubled

Scripture: John 14:1-6
1 "Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. 2 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? 3 And when 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. 4 And you know the way where I am going." 5 Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" 6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me."
Do you allow any troubles to rob you of God's peace? As much as we try to avoid it, we all inevitably encounter trouble and difficulties we find hard to endure. Jesus knew his disciples would have to face trials and persecution after he left them to return to his Father in heaven. Adversity can make us lose hope and become discouraged, or it can press us closer to God and to his promises. "It is the LORD who goes before you; he will be with you, he will not fail you or forsake you; do not fear or be dismayed" (Deuteronomy 31:8).
Just as God went ahead of the Israelites in the wilderness to lead them safely to the promised land, Jesus tells his disciples that he is going ahead to prepare a place for them in God's house – a place of refuge, peace, and security, and everlasting happiness. God's house is never closed nor crowded – there is plenty of room for everyone who believes in God and in his beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The greatest fear in this present life – whether it be the separation and loss of life to a loved one or the threat to one's own life – is put to rest by Jesus' promise that we will live forever with him and the Father in their heavenly home with a great company of saints and angels who will be our friends forever as well.
Do you know the way to the Father's house? Jesus expected his disciples to know where he was going and what their ultimate destination would be as well. Thomas, who was both a doubter and a realist, spoke for all the disciples when he said, "we neither know where you are going nor how we shall get there on our own?" If you have never been to another land or traveled down an unfamiliar road, you naturally want to know what your destination is and how to get there safe and sound.
During the middle of the 15 year civil war in Lebanon, at a time when many believers had been isolated and cut off from contact with outside Christians, I attempted to find a way to visit. Since I had never traveled there before, nor spoke the language, I was helpless without a guide.
Fortunately, a Christian friend from Lebanon met me half-way and personally guided me safely through unfamiliar territory, including some challenging road-blocks and check-points along the way.
Jesus knew that his followers could not find the way to the Father in heaven on their own without his help. In fact, that is why the Father sent his Son into the world on a rescue mission to restore those who were lost and without a guide. Jesus made a statement which only God could make and deliver.
Jesus proclaimed: I am the Way. Through Moses and the prophets, God promised to guide his people in a "holy way" so they could walk and live in his peace and blessing. And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not pass over it, and fools shall not err therein (Isaiah 35:8). You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. You shall walk in all the way which the Lord your God has commanded you (Deuteronomy 5:32-33). Teach me your way, O Lord; and lead me on a level path (Psalm 27:11).
The Lord Jesus came to fulfill God's promise to bring his people, not simply to a land flowing with milk and honey, but to a restored paradise and new creation where we can dwell with God in perfect peace and unity. That is why Jesus proclaims, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. Jesus does not simply give advice and direction.
He personally is the Way, and we cannot miss it. Through his life-giving word and Spirit, Jesus leads and guides us personally every day.
The Lord Jesus also is the Truth. Many can say, "I have taught you the truth." Only Jesus can say, I am the Truth. Moral truth cannot be conveyed in words alone; it must be conveyed in example. Jesus embodies the truth in his person. Jesus also is the Life. He not only shows us the path of life (Psalm 16:11); he gives the kind of life which only God can give – abundant life which never fails nor ends.
Is there any fear or trouble that keeps you from the perfect peace and happiness of a life surrendered to Jesus Christ?

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