4 And you know the way to 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 except through me.
Jesus claims they knew the way. Thomas disagrees.
As a captain once said, “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” It seems this is a common conversation from pupil to teacher these days. Jesus says we know- we say we don’t. Walking through life dealing with friends’ failures, family drama and workplace changes constantly reminds us of how unprepared we are for today. Thomas was unprepared to follow Jesus. We are unprepared to follow Jesus.
What we are prepared to do is understand where Jesus has been while standing confused about where He is going. There was a day we were prepared. Just not today. A parable in Matthew’s Gospel introduces us to 10 young ladies waiting on the bridegroom. At the beginning, everyone was prepared. Everyone had a lamp and everyone’s lamp had oil. Over time (as the bridegroom was late), five ladies proved to be wise while the others were deemed “foolish”. Apparently, past wisdom does not prohibit a present foolishness.
Everyone needs to be prepared for everyday.
Thomas followed Jesus all over Galilee to Judea, but had no idea how to follow Him from earth to heaven.
I’ve had a pretty good run raising my kids, but feel completely unprepared for adolescence. I’ve enjoyed almost 20 years of marriage, but am only prepared for the next 20 years if nothing changes.
Being great at yesterday is no guarantee of success tomorrow.
Jesus was letting Thomas know things were going to change. Thomas heard what was necessary and saw what was necessary to be prepared. Obviously, Jesus was right- Thomas knew the way. And Thomas was honest- he had no idea.
Every moment Jesus lived in front of Thomas was a lesson. He was showing Thomas how to walk. Showing Thomas how to relate. Showing Thomas how to navigate earth in pursuit of heaven. Thomas did know. But for reasons that are common to us all, Thomas missed the point. We know Jesus is the way (and the truth and the life). However, when our generation pushes ideologies that are contrary to Jesus we act like we don’t know what to do. We act like the opposition to our faith caught us completely unprepared- this devastating reality totally blindsided us.
How do we know what is right from what is wrong? How do we answer the skeptic? How do we teach our kids the way? How? Here’s an idea- preach the Word (2Ti 4:2).
In fact, the only thing that seems to be lacking among us is the Word. We are surrounded by great church environments- complete with enviable sound, lighting, and acoustics. We have some of the best free child-care of any organization. We even have parking attendants when it’s quite obvious where to park and which way to the sanctuary. We have it all. Everything, that is, except the Word.
Just in case you don’t think this matters, consider the condition of today’s American church environment: It has been suggested that by 2050, the percentage of the US population attending church will be almost half of what it was in 1990. To that point, it has already dropped 27% over the last 25 years. What if 27% less kids were graduating high school? What if 27% less people were working? What if 27% less people had clean water in America? If any of the above hypotheticals were actual, then the civic, corporate and political cries would be deafening. Yet, we the church, continue to watch our influence erode and think to ourselves the fix must be some Gospelless conversation, powerless demonstration, and absoluteless truth. Dumb.
It is time for us to long for the Gospel- to cherish the Gospel- to search for the Gospel. And may we not be satisfied by anything less. Ever. It’s the only way to be prepared for today and tomorrow.
I was watching Joel Osteen on Stephen Colbert the other night and simply laughed at the pitiable demonstration of the Gospel.
Let me explain.
After Mr. Osteen explained how his new book, The Power of I Am was not about I am who I am but rather about saying, “I am blessed, I am healthy…” he went on to say you don’t need to be a Christian to read the book. Really? Do we really think we can experience true healing without the Healer? Can we experience a great life without the Giver of Life? When the Apostle Paul was asked the same question about one of his books he said, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor 2:14). This previous idea of “belonging before we believe” (McLaren, 2001) has now given way to the lie of experiencing the goodness of God without Jesus.
Actually, believing is how we belong. Believing is the only way to belong.
Thomas knew this but simply didn’t want to accept it. Thankfully, in the center of Thomas’ cultural confusion, Jesus didn’t offer some stereotypical, gutted counsel. Nope. Without apology, He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” Our answer to this generation must be the same.
Jesus isn’t just included in the conversation. He’s not a subplot just in case you want to know more.
Jesus is the conversation.
Jesus is the know.