News for the week of Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sunday School Lesson — Explore the Bible
Dec. 15: Believe Exclusively
By David R. Dean

Focal Passage: John 14:1-14, 27-29

John 14 is one of the most familiar passages in the New Testament. Too bad it is often relegated to funerals. Jesus is comforting His disciples knowing that He must be taken away from them. As He prepares to go to the Father He reminds them that He, Jesus Himself, is the way, and the only way they can join Him in the place He will prepare for them. John 14:6 stands like a lighthouse declaring for all who will believe that … “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Back in John 10, Jesus referred to Himself as the Good Shepherd, and also as the door to the sheepfold. Here He declares Himself to be the private and exclusive highway to heaven! He is the Shepherd and the sacrificial Lamb. He is Priest and Lamb of God. He is not just the founder of a religion we cherish. He is God incarnate who is the only way to know the Father.

In our day of pluralism and political correctness it is a bit old fashioned to quote verse six. If we are Christians, we are journeying on a narrow road. In 1962 as a graduate student at Peabody I had a Hindu roommate, Madhab Sharma, from Kathmandu, Nepal. He asked me one day who Jesus was. I summarized the gospel as well as I could and told him the Christmas story. When I finished, he looked right into my eyes and said, “David, you are narrow-minded! I go to God through the prophets of Hinduism. You believe in Jesus. What difference does it make?” For the first time I realized that if I am a Christian, I am narrow-minded. We are not to believe anything and everything. We must believe that Jesus Christ was, and is who He claimed to be … “the way to the Father.”

Jesus is all about the Father. He came to declare the Father’s love, to pay the price for the Father’s forgiveness, to open the way into fellowship with His Father to all of us, and to demonstrate what it means to obey the Father. Count the times “Father” appears in verses 1-14. Do we, like Philip, wonder what it means to know the Father? Jesus said to him and us, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. … Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and that the Father is in me. … Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me”(vv. 9, 11). We follow Christ because He knows the way to the Father. He has the exclusive right of way!

Do not skip John 14:15-24. I love verse 20 which describes the relationship between Jesus and the Father, and Jesus and the believer. Draw four concentric circles. Jesus is in the middle, and He is in the next circle, you; you are in Him, and He is in the Father. Do you realize and believe this exclusive relationship we all share? “I am in my Father and you are in me, and I am in you” (v. 20). What comfort! What security! What a wonderful truth to ponder! And if that is not enough, meditate on verse 26 which defines the special role of the Holy Spirit in our lives as counselor, teacher, and reminder of the peace offered to us in verse 27.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; Trust also in me. … I am the way, and the truth, and the life … .” Do you believe this? Most of us do! But do we also believe that He who returned to the Father to prepare a place for us is busy interceding for us. Furthermore, He who came and died for our sins, was buried, rose from the dead, and ascended to the Father is coming back again. “I have told you now before it happens so that when it does happen you will believe” (v. 29). This wonderful chapter concludes with words which reiterate the loving relationship Jesus had with the Father. “But the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me” (v. 31). If we believe Jesus was one with the Father, we must love Him for revealing the Father to us. And, furthermore, we must obey Him and tell our world that Jesus is God’s exclusive revelation of Himself in Whom we must trust. Indeed, “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Who needs to hear this message from you this Christmas season?

— Dean lives in Orlinda. He is the retired executive director of the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association.


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