Journey: The Way

We left off last week with the realization that Jesus’ disciples were about to have transferred to them the responsibility of continuing His ministry.  They were promised the gift of the baptism of the Holy Spirit to equip and empower them to be able to carry that responsibility. 

Today is Pentecost Sunday and we are so incredibly blessed to live in the days of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all people.  It is an experience that we don’t want anyone to miss out on!  Salvation is a free gift to all who ask for it in faith and so is the gift of Spirit Baptism.  Jesus taught us that anyone who asks for the Holy Spirit will be given the Holy Spirit and we want Him to the full!  We want to be overflowing with the Spirit of the Living God within!  We want His fire baptism to burn away all of our old self so that only He remains!

For Jesus’ disciples, however, there was a journey in between the promise and the fulfillment.  There was a season of waiting and uncertainty; a 50 day season.  There was a journey to make and it was going to be a challenging, dangerous, and emotion-filled one.  Jesus was concerned for them. 

Would they have the courage and strength and faith to stay the course and continue the journey without His physical presence?

Out of His concern, He told them in just a few simple words everything that they needed to know about the path that lie ahead of them.  They didn’t understand it at the time, but as they journeyed on, those words became a lamp for their feet and a light to their path.

Those same simple words are the answer for each of us as well.

He said:

John 14:1-14

1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 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. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Just like His disciples, you already know the way to the place where Jesus has gone.  You do!

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Really knowing Jesus is to know the way.  Really, really getting to know Jesus is to have a confidence and boldness and assurance that we are never alone.  Knowing the Father in a personal, intimate way so much so that you know His thoughts, His attitudes, His voice, His behavior, His attributes. 

Jesus is the way.  To us, this is a cliché, easy-to-quote verse.  However, it should be so, so much more to us.  Jesus IS THE WAY!  With Jesus:

Isaiah 30:21

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

You never need to be lost when you have been found by Jesus.  You will never need to be lonely when you have the infilling of the Holy Spirit.  You never need to wonder or worry or fear when you know Jesus, the way.

However, much like us, the disciples heard these words straight from the mouth of Jesus and yet they still just didn’t quite get it…

8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Wow, this had to pierce the heart of Jesus; it had to hurt.  Jesus wasn’t enough for Philip.  He wanted to see the Heavenly Father.

9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?

It doesn’t matter how many years we have been with Jesus.  We can still miss it.  We can still not truly know Jesus and therefore, not truly know the way.  In the same way that you could know someone and spend tons of time with them and still not really know who they are, we can call ourselves a Christian for decades and still not truly know Jesus.  Jesus went on:

Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

How will we know the way for each of us to journey from this mountain to the next? Which path is the right path? We choose, but how do we choose?

The answer? Jesus!

Jesus is THE WAY.

He doesn’t only show us the way in which we should go. 

He has already gone ahead of us pioneering and preparing a way. 

He is with us and will never leave nor forsake us.

He is our rear guard forgiving our past and working it all together for good.

Jesus is more than just a tour guide through life as we sight-see through it.

Jesus is THE WAY!

Jesus is the only way to live a full and abundant life here and now and is certainly the only way into eternal life.

Knowing Jesus, the way, is all that we truly need on our journey.

Life is less about making all of the right decisions and more about getting to know Jesus and His righteousness. Less about walking the right way and more about getting to know THE WAY (Jesus).

Thomas was concerned about not knowing the right way to get through life and to be reunited with Jesus in eternity.  Jesus’ response was a concern that after all of the time they spent together, His disciples didn’t truly know Him; THE WAY.

If they truly knew Him, they wouldn’t need to see God, the Father because they would already understand that they know and have seen God the Father through Jesus; God the Son.  If they truly knew Him, they wouldn’t be concerned about their tomorrow and which way they should go.

So, as we face today and inevitably walk through life into tomorrow, our hearts should not be troubled.  We know THE WAY.

We may not know what tomorrow holds or what choices we will be faced with. However, Jesus does and He is the way.  He will guide and direct us and be with us and for us and empower and equip us and mature and complete us and even if we do miss it and mess up, He will heal and deliver us and forgive and restore us.  Whether we go to the right or the left, there will be a voice within us telling us, “This is THE WAY, walk in it.”

No matter what hardships or difficulties or issues we face along our journey, to know Jesus is sufficient enough to continue our journey through them into the glorious, victorious, promise-fulfilled future that Jesus is calling us into!

Most of us are familiar with an incredibly difficult journey that God’s people took throughout the book of Daniel.  They refused to walk the path that God had laid out before them.  They didn’t want to know God nor His ways, but they wanted His blessings.

After God gave them opportunity after opportunity, He lifted His covering over them and their enemies came rushing in.  They were forced to leave their homes and were dragged off into exile.

Daniel 1:3-7;20

The king ordered the chief of his court officials to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility – young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.

Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego. In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.

Most of us are familiar with this historical account.

This Pentecost Sunday, we’ll learn more about the fire within through the baptism of the Holy Spirit through the fire they went through!

King Nebuchadnezzar had the great idea of setting up a golden image 90′ tall and 9′ wide.  Then, he proclaimed that whenever anyone hears the sound of all kinds of music, they are to bow down and worship the idol.  Anyone who refused to do so would be executed by being thrown into a blazing furnace.

Now Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah had complied with being taught and embracing most of what King Nebuchadnezzar required of them.  They took new names, spoke a new language, and took on most of the culture of Babylon. 

However, there were a few strong lines that they just wouldn’t cross when it came to honoring God versus honoring the king.  When the two conflicted, they honored God.  The first time dealt with eating certain foods.  They graciously passed that test and proved that God’s ways were better.  This time, they certainly would not bow down and worship anyone or anything other than the Lord.

Some troublemakers, Chaldeans, denounced the Jews and called out their refusal to the king. 

When people make fun of you or criticize you or challenge you for living for Christ, be encouraged!  They’re noticing your journey and watching your life.  You are making a huge impact on their lives, so keep up the good work!

In fact, when the Chaldeans made trouble for these Godly men, it just set the stage for God to prove Himself through their troubles.  You don’t have to live a perfect life to reveal the goodness of God.  In fact, our weaknesses and mistakes and issues can do more to reveal God’s faithfulness in fulfilling His promises than the areas that we excel in to others!

God’s healing can’t be revealed without sickness.

God’s provision can’t be revealed without needs.

God’s deliverance can’t be revealed without being bound.

God’s forgiveness can’t be revealed without sin.

God’s grace can’t be revealed without weakness.

And the list goes on…

Daniel 3:13-28

13 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”

They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”

25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”

So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.

There was another in the fire and just His Presence alone was a strong enough refuge to loose the binding around them and to protect them from the same fire that killed the soldiers who threw them in.  Moreso, the covering of His Presence was so secure that they climbed out of the furnace without a single hair singed nor even smelling of the fire.

There was another in the fire that that same One walks with you as well.  Jesus is THE WAY!