In the Alpha Course, Nicky Gumble tells the story of a soldier during the Civil War in America, who was granted special permission to seek a hearing with the president. Because of a personal family tragedy he wanted to request excemption from military service.
But when he arrived at the Whitehouse he was refused entry and was sent away. And so he ended up sitting in a nearby park. A young boy happened to be passing by and noticed that this soldier was unhappy, and so this young boy started to talk to him, and the soldier found himself pouring out his heart to this young boy. At the end of it the young boy said ‘come with me’. They went back to the Whitehouse, this time to the back entrance, and they walked through the back entrance into the Whitehouse itself. No one challenged them or stopped them, and they walked past of the high ranking military officials right up to the presidential office, and without knocking the boy walked straight into the presidents office.
Abraham Lincoln was there talking to his Secretary of State, and when he saw the boy he broke off the conversation and said, ‘Todd what can I do for you?’ And the young boy said, ‘Dad this soldier needs to talk to you.’
The soldier gained access to the Father through the son.
This is the message of our Gospel reading today. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. It is only through Jesus that we can come to God the Father. He is the doorway by which we must enter into the Father’s presence.
Last week Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury said in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph that Britain is now a post Christian society. We now live in an era where widespread Christian worship is over. Britain is a secular, multicultural, multi faith society and this has led to an increase in the idea that all religions are equally valid paths to God, termed religious pluralism. So it doesn’t matter what path you follow, all roads lead to God.
But Jesus’ words in John’s Gospel, show that this is not true. The only way to the God the Father is through Jesus. Jesus didn’t say, “I am one of the ways, or a part of the truth, or a life”, but I am THE way, THE truth, THE life. As the Way he is our path to the Father, as the Truth, he is the reality of all God’s promises. As the life, he joins his divine life to ours, both now and for all eternity. There is no other way to God the Father than through Jesus.
Jesus goes on to say that he is the full revelation of God. ‘Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.’ Jesus is God in human form. He, and he alone, reveals God to us. Jesus is the visible, tangible image of the invisible God. He is the complete revelation of what God is like. Jesus explained to Philip, who wanted to see the Father, that to know Jesus is to know God. The search for God, for truth and reality, ends in Christ.
Because we live in a multicultural multifaith society, there may be people who say isn’t it too narrow and too exclusive to claim that there is only one way to God and that is through Jesus. But Jesus is wide enough for the whole world to enter into the presence of the Father, if the world chooses to accept it.
There is one thing in particular that is very different about the Christian faith when compared to every other religion. The Christian faith says that we can't make ourselves good enough for God no matter what we do or say. No religious act, no religious words, no amount of religious piety will ever be enough to get us in to heaven. We will all fall very short of the standard that God requires - perfection, just like him.
Other faiths teach that if you do the right things or say the right things then you will be able to earn God's favour and blessing. But Christianity teaches that it is not about what you or I say or do, but about what you and I believe Jesus said and did. It is only faith in Jesus' actions that can help us find God's forgiveness. It is because Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, it is because of the victory he won for us on the cross, that we can gain access to the Father.