Sunday School 05 27 2012

 

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"The Way, the Truth, and the Life"

Lesson Text: John 14:1-14

Background Scripture: John 14

Devotional Reading: Matthew 7:13-20

 

John 14:1-14 

1Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

2In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

4And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

5Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?

6Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

7If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.

8Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.

9Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?

10Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

11Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.

12Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

13And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

14If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. 

 

OBJECTIVES

To understand that Jesus alone is the only way to God.

To know that Jesus is God in the flesh.

In our daily prayers trust Jesus to point us in the right direction: To understand, to help, to change, to befriend, to witness, to succeed, and to overcome adversity for God's glory.

 

INTRODUCTION

“Can You Tell Me How to Get to... ?”

    “Have you ever been lost in an unfamiliar place, with very little time to get to your destination? It can be really scary, even nerve racking!!”

    Does pride prevent you from asking for help? Sometimes I have been hesitant because I didn’t trust the source of help. More than once I’ve followed directions only to end up more lost than before. Once while traveling in a major city in another country, a friend asked a taxi driver (who didn’t speak English) to take him somewhere, and he ended up miles away from the desired destination.

    In some cultures, people believe they should always be helpful to strangers, and so they will offer directions even when they have no idea where you’re going. Accepting directions obviously requires a high level of trust that your helper knows what he or she is talking about. Modern GPS systems are reliable, but not foolproof.

    If good directions to a physician's office or school are important, then knowing the right way to God is critical! Many different faith systems and philosophies claim to set us on the correct path. But how do we know which one is right when they contradict each other?

 

 

LESSON BACKGROUND

Time: A. D. 30

Author:John

Recipients: Mankind

    Our previous three lessons each focused on one of the seven famous “I am the [something]” sayings that appear in the Gospel of John. The context of those three statements was that of Jesus’ public ministry. Our “I am the [something]” study for today, however, involves the private context of Jesus’ farewell discourse.

    The Gospel of John naturally divides into three major sections. After a brief introduction (1:1-18), chapters 1-12 relate the events of Jesus’ public ministry; chapters 13-17 recount His private teachings in the upper room on the last night of His life; and chapters 18-21 finish the story with Christ’s death and resurrection. Almost all the material in the second section of the book, chapters 13-17, is unique to the Gospel of John. This section is typically called “the farewell address” because it relates Jesus’ final words to His disciples. Here He discloses His true identity and the purposes of His mission.

    This section opens and closes with our Lord's loving admonition, "Let not your heart be troubled" (John 14:1, 27). We are not surprised that the Apostles were troubled. After all, Jesus had announced that one of them was a traitor, and then He warned Peter that he was going to deny his Lord three times. Self-confident Peter was certain that he could not only follow his Lord, but even die with Him and for Him. Alas, Peter did not know his own heart, nor do we really know our hearts, except for one thing: our hearts easily become troubled.

 

Heart Trouble (John 14:1-3)

1. How did Jesus' words in John 14:1 show love and compassion for His disciples? (v. 1)

    Jesus' concern for His disciples, no doubt, emanates from His love for them. (1 John 4:7-9) As Jesus speaks these words, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me," the disciples likely are pondering Jesus’ prediction that one of them will betray Him (John 13:21-26) and/or His insistence that Peter will deny Him three times(13:37,38). These comments certainly are troubling enough, but they are nothing compared with what Jesus is about to tell them: He himself will be leaving soon (14: 28-30), and the disciples will be hated and persecuted (15:18-16:4).

    Although they had proclaimed their faithfulness to Him, Jesus knew that they would falter during His darkest hour. They would need some comforting words to look back on. In difficult circumstances, it is often helpful to look to the words of Jesus as a source of encouragement.

    The Savior began by urging His disciples to calm their troubled hearts. The way to do, this was to put their trust in the Father as well as in the Son. John’s use of the Greek verb “believe” rendered “trust” (John 14:1) can be interpreted in many ways. If this is the intent here, then Jesus is stating a command something like this: “Ye [disciples] need to trust in both God and in me.” The Gospel writer is drawing our attention to the close relationship between the Father and Jesus. Together they provide comfort for believers.

    In any case, it is remarkable that Jesus focused on comforting His followers rather than dealing with His own needs. The treachery of Judas and the fickleness of the rest of the disciples did not prevent the Savior from remaining a calming presence among them. He proved once again to be the ultimate source of peace.

What do you think?

    What things tend to trouble you the most? How does belief in God and Jesus help you in these areas?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

-Spiritual Issues

-Non Spiritual Issues

2. Describe Jesus' reference to Heaven concerning His disciples (vs. 2,3)?

    According to Jesus, heaven is a real place. It is not a product of religious imagination or the result of a psyched-up mentality, looking for "pie in the sky by and by." Heaven is the place where God dwells and where Jesus sits today at the right hand of the Father. Heaven is described as a kingdom (2 Peter 1:11), an inheritance (1 Peter 1:4), a country (Heb. 11:16), a city (Heb. 11:16), and a home (John 14:2).

    Jesus is promising the disciples that He will make a place for them there. While the disciples will suffer for their faith and will not find a place in this world, they can rest assured that Christ will provide an eternal dwelling where they will truly be at home.

3. What does Jesus mean when He tells the disciples: "I will come again, and receive you unto myself…" (v. 3)?

    While popular images of Heaven focus on pearly gates and streets of gold, the Bible consistently emphasizes that Heaven is a place where God and His people can be together forever. The Gospel of John rarely refers to the second coming of Christ directly, but this verse is a notable exception: Jesus will die, go to Heaven, then return later to take the disciples back with Him. Knowing this fact provides them (and us) with hope in the face of pain and persecution.

    The word if here should not be taken as an indication of doubt. In Greek, this sentence structure means that the second clause will always follow from the first: if Jesus goes, then He will certainly come back—He will not abandon His people. In this particular case, there is no real doubt about the “if” part either, since Jesus is well aware of His pending death, resurrection, and ascension.

 

Jesus is the Only Way (John 14:4-11)

4. Why did Jesus make the comment “whither (where) I go ye know, and the way ye know (v. 4)?

    As verse 5 will indicate, the disciples find this comment confusing. Perhaps Jesus knows this and is hoping they will ask Him to take the discussion to a deeper level. At the same time, however, Jesus’ statement here is literally true: inasmuch as the disciples know Jesus—having seen His miraculous works and having heard His words of truth—they do indeed know the way to the Father’s house. As they followed that way, they would end up there with Him (v. 4). No matter how rough the path, believers can always look forward to their final destination, knowing Jesus is there waiting for them.

5. What did Thomas’ question concerning Jesus leaving them reveal (v. 5)?

    Thomas' question revealed his keen desire to be with Jesus (see John 11:16), and this meant that he had to know where the Master was going and how he himself would get there (and the other disciples too). It also revealed that the disciples had not come to grips fully with Jesus’ destination.

6. How did Jesus answer Thomas’ question concerning the way to the “Father’s house” (see vs. 2,5,6)?

    When Thomas asked Jesus the way, Jesus did not hand him a road map and give him directions. Jesus told all of them that He Himself is the way to God. His insistence that no one can come to the Father except through Him has two implications: (1) faith in Christ is required for admission to Heaven and (2) Christ’s teachings and actions perfectly illustrate the type of life that pleases God.

   The three terms way, truth, life are closely related and can be understood in two broad senses. Traditionally, these words have been taken primarily in a doctrinal sense, meaning that true or accurate belief in Christ is the only way to gain access to eternal life with God. Put another way, this means we can’t get to Heaven if we don’t believe the right things about Jesus.

   Another approach, however, views these terms as more dynamic descriptions of Jesus’ example, which He expects all disciples to imitate. Viewed from this angle, Jesus demonstrates what it means to be “true/faithful” to God by showing His followers the way to behave; He thus models a lifestyle of faith.

    Both approaches are consistent with the thinking of the writer. John everywhere insists that people must think about Christ correctly and must also live as Jesus lived (see 1 John 4:23,24). We walk the path that leads to our eternal home as we believe in Christ and imitate His example.

    In a few hours some of Jesus’ followers would see Him hanging on a cross and would wonder how this could be true. After His resurrection, they would understand that as the one who died for their sins, He is the only link between God and repentant sinners. 

7. What did Jesus mean by “If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also…” (v. 7)?

    The disciples knew Jesus, and yet did not know Him so well as they might and should have known Him. If they had known Christ alright, they would have known that His kingdom is spiritual, and not of this world.

    If they had, they would have known that they were seeing what God the Father is like by seeing the Son. Because Jesus and the Father are one (John 10:30; 17:11, 21-23), then anyone who knows Jesus knows God. Knowing Jesus is the key to knowing the Father.

    We do not have to wait until we enter heaven to get to know the Father (John 20:28-31). We can know Him today and receive from Him the spiritual resources we need to keep going when the days are difficult.

8. Did Philip still show lack of understanding when he said to Jesus: "Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us" (vs. 8,9)?

    While Thomas focuses on Jesus’ statements about “the way,” Philip’s inquiry raises a question about the Father. Philip seems to be asking for a theophany (manifestation of God’s glory) similar to Moses’ (Exodus 33:18-23). Philip doesn’t seem to realize that God’s glory is visible in the Son.

    Therefore, Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?

    Jesus was disappointed that Philip still did not understand His statement about knowing and seeing God (see v. 7). Philip was one of Jesus’ very first disciples (John 1:43). In view of this fact, Philip’s lack of understanding is incredible. Thus Jesus simply repeats what He earlier said to Thomas: anyone who has seen Him in action has seen God (compare John 12:45; Colossians 1:15; and Hebrews 1:3).

9. Why did Jesus ask Philip did he believe in His unity with “the Father,” His “words,” and His “works” (vs. 10,11)?

   The Greek construction of the question in John 14:10 indicates that the Lord expected a yes answer from Philip: he did believe that Jesus was in the Father and the Father in Him. That being the case, Philip should have realized that the words of Jesus, as well as His works, came from the Father and revealed the Father.

    Three themes in the Gospel of John intersect in this verse. First, the phrase in the Father touches on Christ’s unity with God, a theme that will be highlighted in Jesus’ final prayer in John 17 (also John 10:38; 14:20). Second, Jesus never says anything on His own without God’s directive because Christ and the Father are one; thus when Christ speaks, we hear the voice of God (see 7:16; 8:28; 12:49). Third, and closely related, the works that Jesus does—which include both His sayings and His miracles—are expressions of God’s power (see 5:19, 36; 8:29; 9:4; 10:25). Because Jesus is one with the Father, He says what the Father wants Him to say and does what the Father wants Him to do.

    “Jesus performed many miracles during His earthly ministry, some of which are not recorded in the four Gospels (John 20:30). As previously mentioned, His miracles were extraordinary expressions of God’s power. When the Son performed a miracle, the Father directly altered, superseded, or counteracted some established pattern in the natural order. The miracles of Jesus served several purposes. First, they confirmed His claim to be the Messiah. Second, they validated the Son’s assertion that He was sent by the Father and represented Him. Third, they substantiated the credibility of the truths Jesus’ declared to the people of Israel. Fourth, they encouraged the doubtful to put their trust in the Son. Fifth, they demonstrated that the one who is love was willing to reach out to people with compassion and grace” (Bible Lesson Commentary, Cook).

 

GREATER WORK (John 14:12-14)

10. How can the disciples, or man do greater things than Jesus? (v. 12)

    Jesus told the disciples that those who believed in Him would do even greater things than what He had been doing (John 14:12). Jesus certainly was not saying that they would possess greater powers than Him, nor that they would perform greater miracles. Evidently, Jesus was talking about the mighty works of conversion. Many more people will come to believe in Jesus after His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension than before. Whereas Jesus’ ministry was primarily confined to Galilee and Judea, they would take the Gospel to distant lands. Yet they could do none of this unless the Son first returned to the Father.

    Without a doubt, the Savior knew His followers could not serve Him effectively in their own power. They would need supernatural assistance. In particular, they would need the gift promised by the Father-the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit came, the disciples would be filled with courage and the ability to witness about Jesus. Their testimony would not be confined to Jerusalem. They would take the message to the surrounding regions of Judea and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). They could do this knowing that the Father had given the Son all authority in heaven and earth (Matt. 28: 18). We continue Christ’s ministry today when we share His message and demonstrate His love.

11. What did Jesus say if you “ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (vs. 13,14)?

    The phrase “in my name” ties these verses (13, 14) to the theme of our lesson: because Christ is the way to the Father, we can appeal to God through faith in Jesus. Further, Christ is not only the way that we gain access to God, but also the channel through which God’s blessings and power flow to us. Once we focus our requests on fulfilling the will of God, we will desire nothing less. Since we pray in Jesus’ name, He promised that He will do it. Hence, anything we accomplish through Christ brings glory to God, as everything Jesus did brought glory to God. In a very real sense, we, as disciples, are continuing Jesus’ work of revealing God to the world!

 

POINTS TO PONDER

1. Our pathway to peace is not to worry or be troubled, but to seek Jesus to calm our troubled hearts (John 14:1).  

2. Because of Jesus' love for His disciples and His body, (the Church) He will return and take us to Heaven to dwell and reign with Him forever (vs. 2-5).  

3.Jesus is the only “way” to God. This is the “truth,” and it brings “life” (v. 6).  

4.The more we come to know the Lord Jesus, and the essence of His character, the more we come to know God the Father (vs. 7-11).  

5.  Jesus gives us His grace and authority to do His work on a daily basis (v. 12). 

6.Effective prayer, is prayer in agreement with the desires of Christ. The result of prayer is the glorification of the Father, not self-glorification (vs. 13,14).  

 

CONCLUSION

   Contrary to the popular understanding thatthere are many roads that may lead to success, and tospecific destinations, the same principledoes not apply to God. According to the Gospel of John, and other New Testament scriptures. There's only one road or direction that leads mankind to God. There is only one way to get to know Him, and that way is Jesus. While many religions claim to lead us to God, Christ says, He is "the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. Jesus is also the way to God empowers us to witness to the world. Are you using all your power, or His?

PRAYER

    Dear Father, Thank You for Your mercy and grace through the gift of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Without Whom we could not receive the power to glorify Your name. Jesus, thank You for showing us that You are the only way to the Father. It is in Your name that we pray, Amen.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER

    Jesus is the eternal source of God's truth and life.

 


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