John 13:31-14:1-6
Colossians 1:15-22

We must not consider today’s ‘I am’ saying – ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ found in John 14:6 apart from its context set for us in the previous chapter. For the beginning of chapter 13 marks a solemn divide in John’s plot. Whereas the first twelve chapters picture the public ministry of Jesus; chapters 13 through 17 provide us an intimate look at Jesus with His disciples for the last few hours of His time on earth before His death and resurrection in chapters 18 through 21.

The setting for both chapters 13 and 14 is the Upper Room; the place Jesus sent two of His disciples to prepare for Him and them to observe the Jewish Passover. The scene opens with Jesus taking on the role of servant as He washes the feet of His disciples followed by Jesus releasing Judas to carry out his betrayal.

With the betrayer departed, Jesus is alone with His own, and now begins what is known as His ‘farewell discourse,’ in which He is going to remind them of His most important truths and at the same time prepare and comfort them for what lies just ahead.

As soon as Judas left the room, Jesus said, “The time has come for the Son of Man[h] to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him. And since God receives glory because of the Son, he will give his own glory to the Son, and he will do so at once. Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?”

“But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.”

Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.

And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later”
(John 13:31-38).

As we read these verses it wasn’t hard to pick up on the fear of the unknown future and frustration these disciples are feeling. Although Jesus has been speaking of His impending death for about 6 months, He is now telling them that time is at hand. He is going away and they will no longer be able to follow Him. And to make matters worse, His First Lieutenant, none other than Simon Peter is told that he is going to deny Him.

If anybody needed comfort and a few words of encouragement, it was the eleven remaining disciples of Jesus.

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.”
“No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (John 14:1-6).

“Heavenly Father, I pray that you bless this reading and hearing of your Word, such that we become not only hearers but also doers if your word. Amen.”

I begin by challenging you to identity the movie from which the following quote comes.

“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.” 
 ― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

I want us to be thinking of home. To do so, here are some other quotes on ‘home.’

“There’s no place like home.”
“Home sweet home.”
“Home is where the heart is.” Pliny the elder.
“Home is the nicest word there is” Laura Ingalls Wilder
“Home, where our story begins”
“Home, where your feet may leave, but not your heart.”
“Life takes you to unexpected places, love brings you home.”
“The best journey always takes us home.”

Why does being reminded of these sayings about home bring a lump to our throats?

Jesus is about to return home. This has been a major theme of John’s gospel where several times the author has stated that Jesus descended from the Father and would ascend back to Him. Indeed chapter 13 begins by stating: ‘Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father.’ He is going home . . . back to be with His Father to a place the Bible calls ‘heaven.’

Before He begins that journey, He wants to assure His disciples then, as well as those of us who follow Him today that He is going to give them . . . and us . . . a chance to find the way home.

And what is the ‘way?’ And the answer is: the way of the cross; THE WAY OF THE CROSS LEADS HOME.

At first glance, it seems Jesus was going to prepare the rooms in His Father’s house but notice He said there are already many rooms in My Father’s house. So, it’s not rooms He is preparing; it is the way to these rooms that is being prepared. And what is that way? Why . . . it is the way of the cross . . . of course. THE WAY OF THE CROSS LEADS HOME!

When Jesus told His disciples He was going away, He was referring to His death on the cross. The cross prepared the way . . . for you and me to find our way . . . home.

Some people ask, ‘Why the cross?’ Two big reasons: One God’s justice. Because God is just, He cannot just wave His hand and dismiss our sin. The Bible says God is just in punishing sin. Indeed, Romans 6:23 says, ‘The wages of sin is death.’ Therefore, someone has to be punished for our sin.

The second reason for the cross is because of God’s love for us. Because of His love for you and I, He cannot dismiss us. And so in an act that stunned even heaven He punished Himself on the cross for our sins.

On the cross, God’s justice and love were equally honored. Justice was served as the penalty for sin was paid by the Son of God and love resulted in the forgiveness of sin for anyone who chooses.

Someone wisely said, ‘He came to pay a debt He didn’t owe . . . because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.’

That is what Jesus has done for us! He does not give Thomas advice and directions on how to get to the Father’s house. He does not tell him the way. He is the way! THE WAY OF THE CROSS LEADS HOME!

I remember being in Jerusalem back in 1989 exploring in the Kidron Valley; specifically looking for the tomb of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. I came across a local (most of them know a little English as it gets their palm greased once in a while) and asked directions. Using his hands and broken English he tried to direct by saying go down two streets and take a left, etc, etc. But try as I might, I couldn’t find it for the life of me. Then I spotted a little Arab boy of 10 or 12 asked him. He didn’t say a word. He just took me by the hand and led me right into the church. He didn’t try to tell me the way . . . he didn’t try to show me the way; that little kid was the way.

Anyone who takes Jesus by the hand as it were by faith in His cross will be led home to eternal life. THE WAY OF THE CROSS LEADS HOME!

Speaking of going home, I am more fortunate than most. Anytime I desire I can jump into my car and travel 30 miles due east back to my home in Mogadore. My mother and sister still live at 3691 Herbert Street. Gail and I were there two weeks ago. I sat in my old place at the table, sat down in the same living room, got up and used the same bathroom. Home.

But guess what? Even though I can have that opportunity whenever I wish, you can’t really go home again.

Why? Because everything has changed. The town I once knew has changed. The old Rexall drugstore where both my dad and I worked during our high school years is gone; it burned down several years ago. The old neighborhood has completely turned over two or three times. And though I can still walk through the house, my dad is not there; my brothers have grown up and moved away.

As badly we might want to return home . . . you and I know that it is not possible.

But I want to tell you as sure as I am standing here that Jesus made a promise that there is a home over the rainbow to which you and I can go someday. A place where ‘there will be no more mourning, or crying or pain.’ A place where we will feel safe and secure. A place where we will feel unconditional love. A place where we will be reunited with those people in our past who have already gone over the rainbow.

And the good news is it that we don’t need a pair of ruby slippers to get there. The way has already been prepared through the way of the cross. THE WAY OF THE CROSS LEADS HOME! What wondrous love is this!

Most of us probably do not recall the Northwest Airlines jet that crashed just after takeoff from Detroit on the evening of August 16th, 1987, killing 155 people. Nor do we remember that a 5-year-old girl was the only one who survived. First responders were so surprised to find her alive they concluded she must have been a passenger in one of the cars on the highway where the plane had crashed. The little girl’s name was Cecelia and though she was very young, Cecelia was old enough to tell the amazing story behind her miraculous survival.

As the plane was falling from the sky, her mother unbuckled her own seat belt, knelt down in front of her, wrapped her arms and body around her, and refused to let go! Cecelia’s mother had used her own body to shield her from death!

Cecelia is now 35 years old. If she were standing here today, she would say something like this: It’s true that my mother wasn’t there to send me off on my first day of school. She wasn’t available to counsel me during my difficult teen years. She was not present to cheer me on graduation day. Neither did she cry tears of joy on my wedding day. Nevertheless, I am sure of one thing. There has never been a day, no, not one moment when I have ever questioned my mother’s love for me. By one pure, bold, and courageous act, my mother sent me a message of love sufficient to last a lifetime.

Jesus was moved by just such a love when He put himself in harm’s way to secure our salvation. By setting aside His deity and taking on human flesh, Jesus unbuckled His seat belt. By entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday knowing full-well the shouts of welcome would 5 days later turn to calls for His execution, He humbly knelt before us. By willingly taking on the pain and suffering of the cross, He wrapped His arms and body around us and refused to let go! And by dying on that cross Jesus offered Himself, His own body, to shield you and me from eternal death!

“How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure; that He would give His only Son to make a wretch His treasure.”


I wish I could say I coined that phrase, but it belongs to a woman named Jesse B. Pounds who was born in Hiram, Ohio and in 1906 wrote a hymn titled, The Way of the Cross Leads Home and I conclude by reciting her poem:

I must needs go home by way of the cross,
There’s no other way but this.
I shall ne’er get sight of the gates of light,
If the way of the cross I miss.

The way of the cross leads home,
The way of the cross leads home,
It is sweet to know, as I onward go,
The way of the cross leads home.

I must needs go on in the blood-sprinkled way,
The path that the Savior trod.
If I ever climb to the heights sublime,
Where the soul is at home with God.

Then I bid farewell to the way of the world,
To walk in it never more.
For my Lord says, ‘Come,’ and I seek my home
Where He waits at the open door.