Monday, June 13, 2011

Sermon for 22 May 2011, Easter 5A

The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.
John 14:1-14
Whoever Has the Son Gets Everything
Fifth Sunday of Easter (A), 22 May 2011
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

In the Name of Jesus. Amen
A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art. When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.
About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands. He said, "Sir, you don't know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art.
The young man held out his package. "I know this isn't much. I'm not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this."
The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture.
"Oh, no sir. I could never repay what your son did for me. It's a gift."
The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.
The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection. On the platform sat the painting of the son.
The auctioneer pounded his gavel. "We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?"
There was silence. Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, "We want to see the famous paintings! Skip this one!"
But the auctioneer persisted. "Will someone bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?"
Another voice shouted angrily, "We didn't come to see this painting! We came to see the Van Gogh's, the Rembrandt's! Get on with the real bids!"
But still the auctioneer continued. "The son! The son! Who'll take the son?"
Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. "I'll give $10 for the painting." Being a poor man, it was all he could afford.
"We have $10, who will bid $20?"
"Give it to him for $10! Let's see the masters!"
"$10 is the bid, won't someone bid $20?"
The crowd was becoming angry. They didn't want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections.
The auctioneer pounded the gavel. "Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!"
A man sitting in the second row shouted, "Now, let's get on with the collection!"
The auctioneer laid down his gavel. "I'm sorry, the auction is over."
"What about the paintings?"
"I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!"
God gave His son 2,000 years ago to die on a cruel cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is, "The son, the son, who'll take the son?" Because, you see, whoever has the Son gets everything.

"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going."  Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?"  Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."
Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us."  Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?  Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.  Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”

“The” is a wonderful word. There is a difference between “the” and “a.” If I speak about a truck or a bike or a lake, you immediately understand the truck, tractor, or lake as one of many different options. “The” adds the meaning of “only,” That is important to Jesus words, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The Way
When Jesus says He is the Way, He unconditionally states that He is the only way. To make doubly sure we understand Him, He says, “No one comes to the Father but by me.”
Presenting Jesus as one more option on a religious buffet where all religions are equal is in direct conflict with Jesus own words, “I am the Way.” And “No one comes to the Father but by me.” There is also a significant difference between calling Jesus “the Son of God” or merely “a Son of God.” These are messages the world does not want to hear. The world wants to believe that as long as you’re sincere in whatever you believe, you’ll be in a good place in the afterlife.
In a decided contrast to that false belief, we are given to confess Jesus’ words from Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV) "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
If I were to tell you that ONLY Lutherans were saved, I would be sinning as a preacher. We are saved only by Christ, not a Church Body. Acts 4:12 (ESV) And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Jesus says, “I am the Way.” “No one comes to the Father but by me.” Yet, if I were to tell you it was OK to go to just any church that called itself Christian, I would also be sinning as a preacher. Pastors and Christians are never to tolerate false teaching! We are to hold to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth from God!

The Truth
It is shocking to the modern world to hear anyone claim that truth exists, especially absolute truth. Even more shocking to American culture is the scandalous Christian claim that Jesus’ Truth is the only truth. “I am….the Truth.” America is a culture of Pontius Pilates. He asked Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38.) Truth was standing right in front of him, and he didn’t see it.
“I am….the Truth,” Jesus says. And who are we to doubt or question Him? We place ourselves higher than He if we think we’ve found something better. There is no Truth apart from Christ. It is spiritually dangerous to think otherwise. It is similarly dangerous to naively go out searching for other truth. Hang on to Jesus’ words. You have those. Save yourselves the wild goose chase. Other spiritual truth does not exist. All you’ll find are Satan’s expert, attractive lies.

The Life
In a survey of LCMS families, it was revealed that in 43% of our families, Jesus and our faith are never mentioned in the home. Never. That’s in 43% of Missouri Synod Lutheran homes—supposedly Christian homes. In 32% of our families, Jesus and the faith are mentioned once in a while. In 13% of our families, Jesus and the faith are mentioned about once a week. And in 12% of our families, the Savior and our faith are mentioned daily. In which of these percentage groups would you and your family fall? (Wyoming District Roundup, 2002)
“I am….the Life,” says Jesus. He declares by these words that there is no life apart from Him. No life exists when there is no mention of Jesus or the faith.
How big is your Jesus? If He’s not big enough to change the way you really live your life Monday-Saturday and where you go every Sunday, you haven’t met Jesus as the Bible presents Him—at least not recently.
Check your Bible concordance for the word “life” and see how many references you get. “Jesus is Life,” (Steven Curtis Chapman recently sang) Christians sing. Listen to the same message from the pages of the New Testament.
Mark 10:45 (ESV)   For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
John 3:36 (ESV)   Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
John 4:13-14 (ESV)   Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,  but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." 
John 5:21 (ESV)   For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 
John 12:25 (ESV)   Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 
John 20:30-31 (ESV)   Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;  but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
1 Tim. 6:12-14 (ESV)   Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.  I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession,  to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
And finally, Rev. 22:14, 16-17  (ESV)   Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates…."I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star." The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Our Lord invites you to pray. He says, “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” We can’t pray for things we know to be sinful or against what His Word says. Remember that promise. “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Reject the false ways, the lies masquerading as truth, and the spiritual death of this valley of the shadow. Pray to Him boldly! The Son is the Way, the Truth and the Life. "The son, the son, who'll take the son?" is also our message as Christians because whoever has the Son gets everything. Amen.

In the Name of Jesus. Amen