How Many Paths Are There To The Top Of The Mountain?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

This week we are continuing the Sermon Series, Jesus {Who is this man?}.  The Scripture for the week is John 14:1-14, and was discussed by Pastor Paul Nynas of Hope Lutheran ChurchQuestion number two:  Is Jesus the Way?

Climbing that mountain.

Pastor Paul likened the trip to heaven to a mountain, with Heaven and God on top.  Is there really only one way up there (through Jesus)?  Logically it doesn’t make sense, look at all those paths: east, west, north, south, straight up, zig-zag…the options seem endless.  What if there is only one God, no matter what religion we practice, we are all worshiping the same God…different path, same result.

But Jesus says, “I am the way the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).  One way.  That mountain has only one correct path.  Am I even on it?  Are you on it?  We are basically good people right?  God just wants us to be good people…right?  Good people go to heaven…don’t they?

Actually, nowhere in the Bible does it say good people go to heaven.  Not even if you follow the 10 Commandments to a T.  The only way is through Jesus.  He died to wash away our sin, without Him and His infinite grace, we are just sinners.  With Him, we are children of God, on our way home to heaven.

How do we get to Heaven?

This week’s topic of discussing how we get to heaven was hard for me.  I do believe what John 14:6 says,

6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me. 

There is only one way, and that is through Jesus.  He died to wipe my sins away so that I could go to Heaven and enjoy eternal life.

You may be wondering why this is hard for me, sounds like I have it figured out.  It’s hard because I know what I believe, but I am uncertain what my loved ones believe.  What if they believe, as long as they are good people, they get the ticket to heaven?  Why do rapists and murders that repent get into heaven, but good people who haven’t accepted Jesus as their savior don’t get in?  Why?

For my loved ones who are still here, I know there is time to find out their answer to “Is Jesus the way?”  What I don’t like to think about is the ones who have already left this world, the ones I didn’t get to ask…one very specific person…my Mom.

Life is filled with questions, searching for answers.

15“But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Matthew 16:15-16 (NIV)

Today I am continuing to follow the Sermon Series:  Jesus {Who is this man?}.  You can find the recorded sermons on Hope Lutheran’s website, as well as the study materials I refer to.  I encourage you to download these resources and join in the discussion!  Welcome to the group!

Scripture:  Matthew 16:13-20

13When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15“But what about you?” he asked.  “Who do you say I am?”

16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Questions and answers

During this week’s sermon, Pastor Chuck talked about how life is filled with questions searching for answers.  Some of these questions are easy, some are hard, and some are destiny questions.  Life at times bring us to the place where we must answer these questions, and how we answer them determines our destiny.

In Matthew 16:13-20, Jesus is having a conversation with his disciples.  During this conversation, Jesus asks his disciples a destiny question.  As Pastor Chuck points out in the sermon, I don’t think they really understood how significant this conversation really was.

Question 1:  Who do you say that I am?

Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13)  Why?  Why would Jesus as this question to his disciples?  My thought is, Jesus wants to know the “popular” opinion regarding his identity.  That he is trying to get a feel for what the people think about the Son of Man.

Jesus then asks his disciples, “Who do say I am?” (Matthew 16:15)  When Jesus asks this question, their conversation turned into a destiny question.  Why would he ask his disciples point blank who they thought he is?  The answer to this question will direct the destiny of this “Jesus movement”, the destiny of the Church.  If the disciples answer in the same way as the crowd, what would happen to the Church?  This was a test by Jesus, to determine the faith these men had in him, to see if they knew who he truly was.

Peter’s response to Jesus, that he is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16) has thus determined is destiny.  What are these life changing implications?  By answering this way, I believe Peter has committed his life to Jesus.  Jesus then says to Peter, “and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:18)  This tells me, Peter’s statement is as solid as a rock, and not even the devil can change it.

Seek knowledge, wisdom, and truth.

Pastor Chuck pointed out in his sermon that as Christians, we have a duty to seek knowledge, wisdom and truth about who God is and what it means for our life.  All of us, at one point, will need to answer Jesus’ question: “Who do YOU say I am?”  Our response to this destiny question will affect our lives.

When we answer, “Jesus, you are my savior and salvation. You are the Messiah.”  We then take on the challenge of his mission:  Pointing others towards God, and supporting the work of the church.

That mission will look different for each one of us.  God gives each of us different opportunities to reach out to our fellow human beings and share the good news of Jesus.

How will you respond?  Please post in the comments below.

Find hope in the Lord

16 Turn to me and show me Your loving-kindness. For I am alone and in trouble. 17 The troubles of my heart have grown. Bring me out of my suffering. 18 Look upon my troubles and my pain, and forgive all my sins. 19 Look upon those who hate me, for they are many. And how very much they hate me! 20 Keep me safe, Lord, and set me free. Do not let me be put to shame for I put my trust in You. 21 Let what is good and what is right keep me safe, because I wait for You.

I have a very dear friend who is going through some feelings of being empty and alone.  This makes my heart ache, and I knew I must help them in any way I could.  Upon them sharing their feelings with me, I immediately began to pray by asking God to send the Holy Spirit down and fill my friend up with His love.  My next step was to be a listening ear.  In addition to feeling empty and alone, “God just feels so far away right now,” they said.  “You need to fill yourself up with God and the Holy Spirit,” I said.  When you have God, you are never truly lonely for he is always with you.

How do you fill yourself up when you are empty?

All Christians are not created equal

When you hear the word Christian being used to describe someone, what is the first thing that comes to mind?  I need to be honest, prior to beginning my walk with Christ, when I visualized a “Christian” it looked something like this:

An individual(s) going door to door asking if you have been saved.  Those people who approach random people they see at the mall and ask them to follow Jesus.  Those intolerant people who damn you for your sin and seemingly threaten you with hell if you do not follow Jesus today.

Oh my, I had NO desire to be one of “those people.”  I fully admit, I had formed a stereotype in my head without creditable any information to base it on.  I made assumptions based on the attitudes and opinions of those around me, without gathering the facts.

Your Christian Personality

The reality:  Some Christians are similar to the stereotype, but thankfully most are not.  There are several different “personalities” when it comes to being Christian, which is a good thing in more ways than one.

When started going to Church regularly, and I began my journey, I took the time to do some proper research.  I found out being a Christian and a follower of Christ has nothing to do with going door to door in the attempt to save people.  I can honestly say I was relieved, running up to random people is not my style!  More power to those Christians who can share their faith that way!  You truly have a gift.  But God did not make me that way, and He did it on purpose.

Each of us has a special function

Romans 12:4-5(NLT)

4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

Not every Christian can, or should, be the same.  God did not intend us to be that way.  If all of us were the hands of Christ we would get nowhere without the feet to take us there.  If all of us were the voice of Christ, we could not act on the spoken words.  All of us are special God’s eyes, each in our own way.  I think that is why he made such a wide variety of us.  What a waste it would be if all of mankind were the same!

We all belong to each other

Another part of this Scripture that stands out to me is in Verse 5 – “and we all belong to each other.”  God does not intend for us to go through this life on our own.  You can find this theme in all kinds of sayings and clichés:  opposites attract, two peas in a pod, you complete me, two are better than one, the three amigos, etc.  While I don’t think one person can “complete” another person, I do believe that God put people in our lives to balance each other out.

I have a fiery personality…I tend to be sensitive over-react, and do it quickly.  I get anxious about things that are not a big deal, and I tend to be fussy about things.  My husband on the other hand generally stays as cool as a cucumber in most situations.  It takes a lot to get him mad, I know…I’ve tried.

I think God brought the two of us together because we balance each other out.  I flip out, he stays calm.  I yell and carry on, he is calm and collected.  There are areas I help him out in too.  He prefers to be a home body, I help him get out and socialize.  It’s all about finding that healthy balance, sometimes we need help to do that.

God made each one of us with a special gift he wants us to use to spread his Word and share it with other people.  Sometimes, and probably most of the time, we will need to work with fellow Christians to do this.  I believe I have found the way he wants me to share the message of Jesus.  Have you found yours?