It isn’t fun to be confused.
It isn’t fun to be confused.
It’s even less fun to be confused about Jesus.
Why is this happening to me?
What does that passage mean?
Why is that story even in the Bible?
Tonight, we are taking a look at a moment when Jesus’ disciple Thomas was confused – I’ll call Biblically confused. Our goal is to see (1) what caused the confusion (2) how we have similar confusion (3) how do we deal with Biblical confusion. Before we begin, a prayer: Lord, strengthen us by the truth; your Word is truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see. Open our ears to hear what you want us to hear and open our hearts to believe what you would have us believe. Amen.
I. The Confusion
This actually takes place on the night before Jesus died on the cross – on Maundy Thursday. The context of the story is that Jesus is eating a private meal with his disciples. While they are eating, he is taking the opportunity to teach them and strengthen them for the very scary things that are coming up the very next day.
But during the night – a few confusing things had already happened:
It started with the feet washing. Jesus had done something really nice and gotten down on his hands and knees to wash their feet. Peter – trying to be nice – refused to let Jesus wash his feet. That seems nice. Polite even.
But Jesus responded by telling Peter he would have no part of him, unless he let Jesus wash him.
To which Peter responded, “wash all of me then!” Again – makes sense.
But Jesus refused. “Your body is clean. You need only your feet. Also…you need to be spiritually clean.”
Wait what? He wants us to be washed but also not to be washed, but to be washed anyways?
Was this a spiritual thing?
A physical thing?
Was this so confusing…
About ½ hour into the meal, Jesus had talked about betrayal. Then, he had prophesied that one of them would betray him. He followed it up by pointing out that the one dipping bread into the gravy bowl with him would be the betrayer.
The dipper in question? It was Judas. But what was the betrayal?
Was Jesus upset that Judas was eating all the gravy?
Had Judas betrayed Jesus and bought gluten free bread?
Whatever it was – it ended with Judas getting up and leaving the meal.
And the third thing – most confusing of all. Jesus was really somber. He was really sad. Why? They finally had a moment’s break. They weren’t surrounded by questions and help requests. It was relaxing – PLUS it was a holiday. It was the Passover. The Passover was a celebration of God’s goodness and keeping Israel safe.
Yet Jesus kept looking at the floor.
A few times tears welled up in his eyes.
He didn’t make a lot of jokes.
Why was he so sad?
It was really confusing.
Then, Jesus spoke a soliloquy. A soliloquy about houses. He said the following:
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (v.1-4)
The statement was comforting.
It was beautiful.
It was downright confusing.
And Thomas couldn’t handle it!
“Lord!...We don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (v.4b)
If you leave and then summon us without telling us where you are going, how are we gonna get there?
Dude – you need to be clarify. You need to explain to us where you are going and how we can follow you!
And Jesus turned his attention to Thomas.
He nodded his head.
He cleared up the confusion:
“I am the Way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (v.6)
II. Clearing up the Confusion
Now that’s a pretty famous passage. Maybe you’ve heard it before. But in context, I think it’s really, really interesting. Because Thomas is totally confused.
Where is this room?
How do we get there?
How do we get there if you don’t leave us a map?
And then…Jesus responds by saying – I’ll tell you the Way: It’s me!
Thomas thought Jesus was talking physically, locally, geographically.
Jesus was talking none of the above.
He was talking spiritually.
That room? It was a reference to heaven itself. Jesus was about to go there. He would die. He would rise. He would sacrifice himself for their sins and by doing so he would prepare a room in heaven for each and every one of them.
And when the time was right – when the time was right for each of them to die – and join him in heaven - Jesus would send his angels to get them. (They’d die.) Then, they’d live forever in heaven with him, too.
And the way to heaven? It isn’t local. It isn’t geographic. It isn’t physical.
You don’t take a plane. You don’t take a spaceship. You don’t get a ride on the Millennium Falcon.
You don’t live perfectly. You don’t do more good than bad. You don’t just “try to be a good person.”
“Jesus is the Way…No one comes to the Father except through him.”
Do you get it? Thomas already knew the way to where Jesus was going.
He knew him well.
He knew him as a miracle worker, a good friend, and a compelling teacher.
He knew him as a leader, an encourager, and coworker.
He knew him as Jesus.
He is The Way to heaven.
This is so important – because when it comes to spiritual confusion, it always starts with misunderstanding about the way to heaven. The simple answer is that Jesus is the way to heaven. The reality is that every other answer just muddies the waters:
Have I done enough?
Have I tried hard enough?
Have I truly loved enough to get my way to heaven?
These kinds of questions muddy the waters. And if we’re honest – if we want to be clear for the moment – we let them muddy the waters, because we know the clear answer. It’s the answer that Ash Wednesday – and the talk of dust and death and sin makes really clear --- NO!
No, I haven’t done enough.
No I haven’t tried hard enough.
No I haven’t loved enough to get to heaven.
But here’s the truth. Once you face the clear truth to those questions.
Once you face the hard “no.”
Suddenly, it’s a lot less confusing.
Have you ever done one of those puzzles where you have to follow the lines and figure out which one gets where you want to go? They are hard. The tough ones have 10 plus lines of squiggles. And it’s so easy to get lost, to start following the wrong string, and to take the wrong turn and never get there.
But what if the wrong lines were removed.
What if the wrong lines were taken away.
What if the only right way was the only one left?
That’s exactly what Jesus is doing in this section.
Don’t be confused.
I’ve removed the ways that don’t work.
I alone am the Way to heaven.
To a place without sadness.
A place without broken hearts.
A place without hurt and pain.
III. WHAT NOW?
(1) Remember the Answer
Because even as a Christian, it’s easy to get confused.
Have I done enough?
What does this passage mean?
Why is this happening in my life?
Do you remember in Sunday School? How every answer to every question is Jesus? Every time I do chapel with the preschoolers, the very first question that I ask them about the last week’s Bible story is: Who was in the Bible story? And the first answer – no matter what – no matter if he’s mentioned or not – is Jesus!
And every time I always say, “You’re right. Jesus is absolutely the answer. He’s a part of every Bible story.”
I know it’s a simple answer, but “Jesus” is also the answer for a lot of confusing adult questions.
Have you done enough? No. But Jesus did.
What does this passage mean? It means something important in light of Jesus – who lived for you and died for you.
Why is this happening in my life? A lot of reasons – but Jesus loves you. Jesus has you in his hands. Jesus will take you home to heaven.
Jesus is the answer for whatever confusion you have going on right now.
Jesus is the answer for confusion.
(2) Trust the Answer
Because sometimes humans are rational. We want scientific formula and rationale logic written out with numeric formulas in order to explain why it is the answer. Why it is what it is.
But Jesus is God.
And God is decades of eternities smarter than us.
And we aren’t always gonna get it.
Stop trying to figure it out.
Start simply trusting in Jesus.
He is the answer.
He is Your answer.
He is your Way.
He is Your Truth.
He is Your Life. Amen.