I get lost very easily. I have my routes, and if I stick to the routes I know, I’m fine, I get to where I need to be. But if I am going somewhere new, or if I am going somewhere familiar, but starting from a different place, then you can pretty well guarantee that I will get lost. I did it the other week. I had to go to a meeting at Mirfield, which I’ve done several times, and then I had to go to mum’s Nursing Home, which again I’ve done many times, but going from one place to the other place was not a journey I had done before. So I lost my way. And my road map wasn’t in the car. I had to stop and buy a new one. I did get there eventually.
After that journey, I decided that I will to have to buy a Sat Nav! I can’t go on spending my life losing my way.
And of course, if I was truly spiritual, Jesus would be the way and I wouldn’t get lost.
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.
We know that saying so well. It is one of those Bible sayings that we think we understand, that many people end up reading back into it what they think they already know about it.
People often use that verse as a judgement for who’s in and who’s out. They are convinced that Jesus is saying that the only way to God is the Jesus way, through the Christian church – and they usually mean their particular form of the Christian church.
I want to put it to you that’s not what Jesus is saying at all.
For one thing, that isn’t how Jesus went on in the way he treated people. Jesus reached out to the people who were excluded in his society: women, children, people with a disability, people with mental illness, people with disease, people who were not nice, prostitutes, tax collectors, people who weren’t respectable. What right do we have, therefore, to say who’s in and who’s out, because Jesus included everybody.
There is plenty of room in the Father’s house, Jesus says, many different rooms. We have no right to tell the Father who can stay, and who is out there in the howling waste.
People say that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, and if you come to Jesus you will be saved. And that’s great, but that is just the beginning of the spiritual journey. It’s like me setting off in my car on one of my journies – I know roughly where I am going and I hope I set off in the right direction.
People hang on to the faith they learnt in Sunday School or Confirmation Class. It’s not that they need to learn a whole load more facts, but to find that way of being inside which gets closer and closer to Jesus.
But there is more to the spiritual journey than merely setting off, and I think this verse is about growing deeper in faith rather than the initial stages. Jesus is the way because he lives out what he is trying to teach us, bringing together what it means to be truly human with what it means to be divine. That is what is true. That is how we have life. Jesus the way is about integrating human and divine, the whole Mystery of John’s Gospel, and that is true for our brothers and sisters who went to synagogue yesterday and the our brothers and sisters who follow Mohammed and any other faith you might find in any corner of this parish.
The journey for us is about becoming truly human and truly divine, and we need to get into working out how we are going to live that.
Faith isn’t about ticking boxes of belief, like saying the Creed and agreeing with every statement. That’s not what faith is about. Faith includes coming to church and coming into Communion with God by doing what he told us to do. Yes! But we come into Communion for a purpose, not just to get the spiritual energy to carry on with our lives, but to be transformed, to live what Jesus lived.
Jesus says: You know the place where I am going. Thomas tells Jesus: No we don’t. We don’t know where you are going. No. Because it is here. Instead of God being out there, so far away that we can’t reach him, God is here, with us. Jesus has brought God here, into our lives. That is the mystery of the incarnation, God becoming human.
I don’t have to set off on a long journey to find God because God is here, in this church, in the streets of this parish, in the shops and businesses, in your lives, in my life. I don’t need a divine Sat Nav to find God. I just need to open my eyes. I just need to say ‘YES’ and let God in. I just need to open the doors and let God out.
And those are all word pictures for turning to God, and keeping on turning to God. God will do the rest. The wonderful thing about the journey is that we never quite get there – there is always something more to discover, and the journey itself can be amazing. It’s not always easy – in fact, it can be pretty tough sometimes – because it does mean that we have to face our suffering.
But that is the way. That is the truth. And that’s how we find life. Or life finds us.