The H.O.P.E. of Easter
Message #2 – HOPE in the Only Way to Salvation: Jesus
John 14: 6
https://youtu.be/m4G7790SHLI (on Screen)
H – in the Holiness of God
O – in the Only way to Salvation: Jesus
P – in the Peace the passes all understanding (Palm Sunday)
E – in the Everlasting God
Illus: Close to the truth…
A story is told in which an accountant answered an advertisement for a top job with a large firm. At the end of the interview, the chairman asked, “One last question—what is three times seven?”
The accountant thought for a moment and replied, “Twenty-two.”
Outside he checked himself on his calculator and concluded he had lost the job. But two weeks later he was offered the post. He asked the chairman why he had been appointed when he had given the wrong answer.
“You were the closest,” the chairman replied.
Some people have the mistaken idea that God is like the man who conducted the interview. They think it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re close to the truth.
Jesus made this statement in John’s Gospel, chapter 14, verse 6:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
What is the message here?
Jesus is not a way, as in one of many; He is the way, as in the one and only.
No one, regardless of reputation, achievement, special knowledge, or personal holiness, can come to God the Father except through Jesus.
From the greatest saints that have ever walked this earth to even the man or woman who have tried to do their best in this life…no one comes to the Father, except through Christ.
That is why the HOPE of Easter is found in the Only Way to the Father: Jesus!
It would be comparable to saying, “I myself, and only I, am.” Several other times in the Gospels we find Jesus using these words. In Matthew 22 Jesus quotes Exodus 3:6, where God uses the same intensive form to say, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” In John 8:58, Jesus said, “Truly, truly I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am.” The Jews clearly understood Jesus to be calling Himself God because they took up stones to stone Him for committing blasphemy in equating Himself with God. In Matthew 28:20, as Jesus gave the Great Commission, He gave it emphasis by saying, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” When the soldiers came seeking Jesus in the garden the night before His crucifixion, He told them, “I am he,” and His words were so powerful that the soldiers fell to the ground (John 18:4–6). These words reflect the very name of God in Hebrew, Yahweh, which means “to be” or “the self-existing one.” It is the name of power and authority, and Jesus claimed it as His own.
A way is a path or route, and the disciples had expressed their confusion about where He was going and how they could follow. As He had told them from the beginning, Jesus was again telling them (and us) “follow me.” There is no other path to heaven, no other way to the Father. The exclusive nature of the only path to salvation is expressed in the words “I am the way.”
Psalm 119:142 says, “Your law is the truth.” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reminded His listeners of several points of the Law, then said, “But I say unto you . . .” (Matthew 5:22, 28, 32, 34, 39, 44), thereby equating Himself with the Law of God as the authoritative standard of righteousness. In fact, Jesus said that He came to fulfill the Law and the prophets (Matthew 5:17). Jesus, as the incarnate Word of God (John 1:1) is the source of all truth.
In John 10:17–18, Jesus declared that He was going to lay down His life for His sheep, and then take it back again. He spoke of His authority over life and death as being granted to Him by the Father. In John 14:19, He gave the promise that “because I live, you also will live.” The deliverance He was about to provide was not a political or social deliverance (which most of the Jews were seeking), but a true deliverance from a life of bondage to sin and death to a life of freedom in eternity.
In these words, Jesus was declaring Himself the great “I Am,” the only path to heaven, the only true measure of righteousness, and the source of both physical and spiritual life. He was staking His claim as the very God of Creation, the Lord who blessed Abraham, and the Holy One who inhabits eternity. He did this so the disciples would be able to face the dark days ahead and carry on the mission of declaring the gospel to the world. Of course, we know from Scripture that they still didn’t understand, and it took several visits from their risen Lord to shake them out of their disbelief. Once they understood the truth of His words, they became changed people…they were a people with HOPE!
And beyond this passage in John, we find that Jesus is the only way to heaven for several reasons:
Peter reminds the scattered church at that time of this in his first letter to the church after encouraging them in how they should live..
4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—
William Cowper was a poet and hymn writer. In his life before Christ, he says of himself that he was melancholy and introspective, and considered himself beyond hope. Christianity was true he said, but he was not capable of faith. He was rejected.
Then one afternoon in the garden of St. Alban’s Asylum he picked up a Bible. He focused his attention not primarily on the personal reality of his own condition, but on the objective reality of God’s work in Christ. He read Romans 3:25 (on screen): “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[a] through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—“ This is what Cowper later wrote about that moment:
Immediately I received the strength to believe it, and the full beams of the Sun of Righteousness shone upon me. I saw the sufficiency of the atonement He had made, my pardon sealed in His blood, and all the fullness and completeness of His justification. In a moment I believed, and received the gospel . . . Unless the Almighty arm had been under me, I think I should have died with gratitude and joy. My eyes filled with tears, and my voice choked with transport; I could only look up to heaven in silent fear, overwhelmed with love and wonder. (Gilbert Thomas, William Cowper and the Eighteenth Century, p. 132)
We don’t choose the way of salvation…God does…and He chose His Son, Jesus, as the way.
13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.[a]
Just as the Father, Jesus has always been. He was present at Creation. Only One from Heaven could make the way for us to be in heaven ourselves. You ever tried to explain to someone directions on how to get some place, but then decided it would be much easier to say: “just get in your car and follow me there.” Only Jesus can get us to heaven, because He is from there and knows the way to get there.
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
There have been a lot of people that have lived on this earth that we may think lived holy or righteous lives. Mother Theresa, Billy Graham, etc. But no one that has ever lived on this earth, other than Jesus, who has been, or ever will be, perfect…not even our new, little, perfect granddaughter! Because it due time, we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Only a perfect sacrifice can take away our sins.
2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
Again, because Jesus is perfect, He is the only one that can be the sacrifice for our sins…He is the only one that can take our place on the cross…the only one that can take the punishment for our sin.
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
More than 300 prophecies found in the Old Testament about God bringing salvation to the world, are fulfilled in Jesus’ coming to this earth. No other prophecies were ever given about anyone else when it came to salvation. Jesus came to fulfill the Law of God…and He was the only one who could. Israel had some great leaders but they would never be able to save God’s people. No other life may have ever been so transformed as that of the Apostle Paul, but even he understood that the Gospel was not about him, but about Jesus and Jesus alone…both Jews and Gentiles needed the One whom was prophesied to save them from their sins.
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
No one else has ever died and then come back from death as Jesus did. A lot of great men and women have been leaders in this world. They have led empires and countries…been given great influence and power by the people they have led (or exercised that power by force). But not one of those leaders has died and came back to life on this earth. Only Jesus has conquered death and Satan; and only He can get us to heaven.
5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,
What is a mediator? A person who attempts to make people involved in a conflict come to an agreement; a go-between.
Sometimes presidents of a company have a mediator to negotiate a contract. Professional athletes have agents that mediate between the team and themselves to negotiate a salary, or, deal with other possible conflicts.
You and I have a conflict with God. It’s called sin. Our relationship with God is broken because of it. We need a mediator…we need Jesus to bridge the gap (to be the go-between) in our relationship with God. To go to the Father on our behalf and say, “Father, I have died for this one and this one and this one. They have accepted your gift of salvation…you and them…are good!”
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
Kings and Queens have lived and ruled for millennia. But not one of them, but the King of kings and Lord of lords has been exalted to the highest place…
Only the humble will be exalted according to the Word of God.
In Luke 14:7-14 we find Jesus at dinner at a Pharisee’s house. Back then, the closer you sat to the host, the more important you were. If you sat far away, you were less important. Jesus, our perfect example of humility, saw guests trying to get the best seats for themselves. He used this opportunity to tell them two stories illustrating the difference between pride and humility. In the first, a prideful person chose to take the best seat for himself but was humiliated in front of others when asked to move down. However, the humble person chose to put others before himself and took the lowest seat. He didn’t do this to get attention but the host chose to honor him and move him to the best seat. In the second story, Jesus taught that when you throw a party, don’t invite those who can pay you back but invite the poor, crippled, blind and lame. When you serve the least of these without expecting anything in return, you are truly following Christ’s example of humility and will be exalted by God.
A Few More Reasons Why We Know Jesus is the Only Way…
Jesus spoke of Himself as the only way to heaven in several places…
He presented Himself as the object of faith in Matthew 7:21–27.
He said His words are life (John 6:63).
He promised that those who believe in Him will have eternal life (John 3:14–15).
He is the gate of the sheep (John 10:7);
The bread of life (John 6:35);
And the resurrection (John 11:25).
No one else can rightly claim those titles.
The apostles’ preaching focused on the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus (Acts 4: 12 – On screen)
Peter Preaching to the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law in Jerusalem…
12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Paul, speaking to the synagogue in Antioch, singled out Jesus as the Savior (Acts 13: 38-39)
38 “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.
Paul suffered for the Gospel…beaten, tortured, imprisoned…He believed so much in the truth, that Jesus is the only way, that He died for that truth…as did everyone of Jesus’ disciples (from what we can gather in Scripture and other historical documents), except for Judas, who chose another path, and John who died in exile.
Today, disciples all over the world are dying for their faith in Christ…they believe so strongly that Jesus is the Hope of the world and the only way that they sacrifice everything for this truth:
Just last Palm Sunday (in Egypt), suicide bombings at two Coptic Christian churches, one in Alexandria and the other in Tanta, left 45 people dead and many more wounded.
A list generated by Open Doors USA, a nonprofit organization focused on serving persecuted Christians, shows the Middle East accounts for a majority of countries ranked in the top 10 for extreme persecution of Christians. In order, the countries are as follows:
Egypt ranks No. 21. According to the Christian advocacy group, one in 12 Christians today experience high, very high or extreme persecution for their faith. Nearly 215 million Christians face high persecution, with 100 million of those living in Asia.
The Center for the Study of Global Christianity, an academic research center that monitors worldwide demographic trends in Christianity, estimates that between the years 2005 and 2015, 900,000 Christians were martyred — an average of 90,000 Christians each year (more than ¾ the number of people that live in Evansville).
Following a specific time of teaching, some of Jesus disciples were having a hard time with his words…and choosing to leave the faith. In John 6: 67-69 (on screen), we find this conversation between Jesus and his 12 disciples…
67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Peter’s reply is exactly right: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68–69, ESV). May we all share Peter’s faith that eternal life resides only in Jesus Christ. And may this Easter remind us once again that our hope is found only in Jesus!