Years ago, my sister-in-law and her husband came to Nebraska from Kentucky to visit us in the little town of Cambridge. Arriving in town they had difficulty finding our house despite the fact that less than a thousand people lived in the community. Kept looking and looking but they could not find 1220North Street . . . they could not find North Street because it did not run north, it ran east and west. They looked and looked and looked to no avail. Finally they pulled into one of the two gas stations in town to ask for directions.
Of course they did not ask where do the Keeners lived, they asked where 1220 North Street. The owner of the station just looked at them with a blank stare and said, “I have no idea . . . who you looking for?” They told the man they were looking for the Keeners . . . to which he quickly replied that they lived up on the hill by the cemetery . . . go across the road, turn left at the corner, turn right at the next corner, and head up the hill where you will turn right and go to the white house next to the brick house with the circular drive. In less than two minutes they were at the house.
To get somewhere you have never been, you have to have directions if you want to get there.
Prior to the crucifixion, Jesus attempts to comfort his disciples before everything hits the fan by telling them not to be troubled. He wants them to know that even though he is leaving them, he is going to prepare a place for them. That is pretty cool since they had been on the road for so long, it would be nice to finally have a place where they could stay and not worry about where they were going to sleep . . . but, they had no clue as to where this place Jesus was going to prepare for them. They were clueless.
Thomas asks, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus looks at him and tells him, “MapQuest it!” No, Jesus doesn’t tell him to that. There wasn’t even MapQuest back then. MapQuest is an Internet service that gives directions. All you have to know is the address where you are at and the address where you are going . . . type it in and it gives you directions and maps to get you where you are going. But, Jesus does not tell the disciples to MapQuest it. He does not tell them because he is the directions . . . he is the way.
Jesus tells them, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” To get to where Jesus is going . . . well, you follow Jesus.
When my sister-in-law and her husband came to visit us in Nebraska, it was a different time and place. About the only service that provide directions to where you were going was Triple A . . . and that was usually a huge packet of maps . . . so, most people ventured out on their own with their own maps and hoped that they got to where they were going. Today, well, we have Internet services like MapQuest and Google Maps that will give us detailed directions to get us where we are going . . . we just cut out the middle man. Or, we use GPS services that give us verbal directions to our destination.
Now, I have to admit that I do not trust GPS services even though my children use them all the time with great success. The one time that I was with my brother and sister in some big city in Pennsylvania, my brother’s GPS system took us everywhere but where we wanted to go. It took us down alleys and dead end streets. After an hour of trying to follow the GPS’s directions we pulled into a gas station and asked directions.
But, there in lies another problem . . . I am a male, males do not ask for directions. Am I right, ladies? We would rather die than admit that we have no clue where we are as we drive around the block for the hundredth time.
So, like the disciples, how in the world do we get to this place that Jesus is preparing for us? Well, Jesus told us . . . follow me.
Now, I pretty much scoured the Bible in looking for these directions from Jesus to get to this place he is preparing for us . . . didn’t find much as far as directions go. Kept looking for a particular address . . . heaven . . . but couldn’t find any directions. Kept running into dead ends. Finally, like we all should do, I went back to the source . . . the source in this case, just as it was for the disciples, was Jesus.
So, I prayed . . . prayed to Jesus just like he told us to do. Prayed that he would give me the directions to where I was wanting to go. I said, Lord, show me the way. Jesus said, where you trying to get? I said, Heaven. Jesus said, who you trying to get to? I said, God! Jesus said, Oh, that is easy . . . “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Then he said, Follow me.
From the very beginning Jesus has always said that the way to God was through him . . . that the way to God was to follow him. How exactly do we follow Jesus? Well, none of us can actually follow in his footsteps since we live in Montana and he was over there in Israel and the Middle East. We cannot exactly trace his footsteps. So, how are we to follow Jesus?
We are to live our lives as Jesus lived his. We are to love the Lord, our God, completely. We are to do the will of God as it given to us in our lives. We are to love our neighbors . . . all of our neighbors for everyone is a child of God. We are to care about people. We are to seek justice. We are to seek peace. We are to love. We are to welcome those who have been excluded. We are to embrace the common good for the sake of all. We are to be like Jesus . . . in his words . . . in his actions. If we can do this, we can find this place that he prepares for each of us.
This is what we need to do . . . we need to MapQuest the way. The way that we followers of Jesus MapQuest the way is to pray. To pray for the strength to follow Jesus and his example as our means of getting to God. It is a proven success this model that Jesus displays for each of us. There is no other way . . .
Jesus tells us, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Sounds like directions to me. Traveling mercies to us all as we journey towards this place that Jesus prepares for us . . . this place of God. Amen.