Do All Roads Lead to God?
In 1956 America changed forever. Some people believed that it was a necessary change that was long overdue, while others believed that this change would destroy our small towns. Fifty four years later we still don’t know who was right. But what we do know is that in 1956, Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway act and we began making a series of interstate highways that have made travel faster and easier.
Some of you remember when it used to take 3 hours to get to Houston and now we can get there in half the time. But not only can we make the trips faster we now have more options. Did you know there are at least 5 different ways to get to Houston? We can go down Highway 90 through Liberty or get off in Dayton and use 1960 to get to Humble. You can get on I-10 in Beaumont, or go down 73 and get on in Winnie. Or if you want to you can go down 87 through Galveston and then go north on I-45.
Now I understand that some options are quicker, some have a better view of the country side, and some are more relaxing. The truth is that we can get to where we want in a variety of different ways. And we like it that way. We enjoy having options, whether its having options in the grocery store, options in the clothes we wear, or options on how we get to where we are going. And while that has been a blessing in so many different areas of our lives, not every destination comes with a wide range of options.
Two weeks we started looking at questions that we must answer. Today we get to the third message in the series, and it has everything to do with having options and choices. We are living in a very strange time. Today it’s OK to talk about spiritual stuff anywhere. Folks talk openly about karma, meditation, and prayer. People even applaud when you talk about God, as long as you mean a general, non-specific, kind old grandfatherly type of God. But when you talk about Jesus everybody freaks out!
The best way to ask this morning’s question is this: Are there many different ways to God, or is Jesus the only way? Whenever we say Jesus is the only way, people are ready to write us off as narrow minded and judgmental.
A few months ago Fox News anchor Brit Hume started a huge scandal when he had the audacity to suggest on the air that Tiger Woods might want to consider leaving his faith of Buddhism and convert to Christianity so that he could find the “redemption and forgiveness” he so badly needs. People got in an uproar about what he said. Folks could not believe his audacity to suggest that Christianity was better that Buddhism. He was criticized for being closed minded. People said that he represented an old way of thought that was not realistic.
It’s not that people don’t believe in Jesus. You know you would be hard pressed to find someone who denies that Jesus existed. Even his harshest critics see the historical evidence and admit that Jesus existed. And for the most part, people don’t dislike His teaching. I mean who could debate the call to Love people, Be generous, or take care of “the least of these.”
But the problem people have with Jesus is that He takes away all of the other options. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Jesus said if you want to get to heaven I am the only option.
That claim is what separates Jesus Christ from every other so-called holy man, savior, prophet in every other religion on earth whether it is Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, or the Dalai Lama. That’s why Jesus offends so many people.
Let’s be honest for a moment. One of the most important things that we will ever do is decide whether we believe Jesus or not. Our eternal destiny hinges on our answer to the question are there many ways to God or, is Jesus the only way?
If Jesus is who He says He is, if He’s the Son of the living God, if He was born of a virgin, if He lived a sinless life, and if He said, “You must deny yourself and follow me.” If all that is true, then we should surrender the rest of our lives, and chase after Him, live for Him, and bring Him glory in every single way.
You know, a lot of times when we see people from a distance, when we don’t know them very well, or know much about them, they seem impressive, but then when we get closer to them or get to know them better, well, we’re just less impressed than we once were. I want us to get up close to Jesus this morning, examine Him and His claims, to see if all roads lead to God, or if Jesus is the only way.
We need to start with His credibility. Look at what people said about Jesus. But let’s not look at His followers or His fans, let’s look at a couple of people who had reason to not like Jesus.
The first one is Pontius Pilate. He was under a tremendous amount of political pressure to crucify Jesus. He wanted to find any sin, any fault, any excuse to do what would be best for himself politically. He desperately wanted to find something wrong with Jesus, so Pilate examined Jesus, and here’s what he said, in John 18:38, “He is not guilty of any crime.”
How could Pilate say that? Because Jesus hadn’t done anything wrong. The next time you think you’re perfect or pretty close go ask someone if they can find any fault in you. Go to work and ask your boss or a co-worker. Ask your spouse. Pontius Pilate, who was looking for something wrong, said, “This man hasn’t done anything wrong. I can’t find any fault in him.”
How about the Roman soldiers who were responsible for carrying out Jesus’ crucifixion? They were battle hardened soldiers who knew how to follow orders, no matter how cruel and inhumane they might have been. When Jesus died, the ground shook, the temple veil was ripped, and the Bible says in Matthew 27:54, The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!” They watched, witnessed what was going on and they said, “Wait a minute. This has got to be the Son of God. He is who He said He was.”
People could say those things about Jesus because He lived a life of creditability. He was well known, famous across the entire region for His teaching and for His miracles.
Think about the miracles of Jesus. What did He do? Here’s the short list: He opened blind eyes; He healed deaf ears; He caused the mute to speak; He healed crippled legs and shriveled hands; He cast out demons. He multiplied five loaves and two fish to feed 5,000 men, and when we count their wives and kids, the number surely was in excess of 10,000; He walked on water. He calmed storms; He raised the dead. And this is important, He didn’t do them in secret or in hiding, he did them in front of crowds of all sizes. And get this: nobody, not even people who hated him, challenged the validity of His miracles. They just wanted Him to stop.
Jesus had credibility because He was a man of Integrity.
In John 8, Jesus is once again teaching in the Temple, and the Jewish religious leaders are challenging Him and questioning Him on every thing He is saying, and in John 8:46, Jesus asked them a very pointed question. “Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me?” Jesus is saying “Can any of you prove me guilty of any sin? If I’ve done something wrong, point it out. But if I’m telling the truth, then why don’t you believe me?”
When it comes to the character of Jesus, we really have only one of three options:
Option one is that Jesus was a liar That would make Him just like all the rest of us, wouldn’t it?
If Jesus was a liar, He was the best there ever was! He was so persuasive that He got twelve grown men to leave their families and their jobs to follow Him around for 3 years.
Don’t you know at some point He would have said to himself “Man, I had no idea I could pull this thing off. I think it’s going to stick. I mean, it could be like 2,000 years later, and people will still believe that I was the Son of God. This thing could actually work.”
But there’s a problem with concluding that Jesus is a liar, His arrest, and trial, and crucifixion. See at some point in that horrible process, He would break. It might have been when people were spitting on Him, and punching Him in the face, and slapping Him. Or it might have come when the Roman soldiers were beating Him within a inch of His life, using strips of leather that had metal pellets and jagged bits of bone embedded in them. The whip would bruise the skin, then rip it open, and then tear it from the body. Maybe that would have been His breaking point.
It might have been when the soldiers forced Him to carry the heavy wooden cross-beam on the open, bleeding wounds on his back. Or perhaps, He could tough all that out, and it would only come when they stretched Him out, and one of the soldiers took a large nail and started to drive through His arm at the wrist.
You see if Jesus was nothing more than a liar, somewhere in that ordeal, He would have cried out, “Enough! I was lying! It was all a joke!” But He didn’t, because Jesus wasn’t a liar…
There’s another option… Maybe Jesus was a lunatic. Maybe He was deluded, or schizophrenic, or just plain crazy.
But what about the things people said about him? The Scriptures tell us that His teaching astonished and amazed the people that they marveled at His wisdom and authority.
In Mark 6 we read that Jesus was teaching in the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth, and the people said, “Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?” Does that sound like a crazy person?
No, it doesn’t. In fact all types of people from all types of backgrounds, tried to get near Jesus to see what he had to say, what he thought, and what he taught. The most learned men in the world picked apart everything He said, and examined everything He did, and they could not find any fault in what He said, or what He did. Their anger with Him came from the fact that He accepted everyone and went against their social standards, and they could not bear that fact.
We’re running out of options… Jesus was either a liar, or He was a lunatic… or the third option is that Jesus is Lord.
Do you ever wonder why there is so little respect for Jesus in our world? I think it’s because of how He has been portrayed and presented. We’ve made Him so gentle and quiet and passive. I grew up with pictures of Jesus in my bible and he had long flowing hair, soft eyes, petting sheep and holding children. Mark Driscoll said, “In general, we won’t respect, or revere, or worship someone we think we could beat up!” Maybe he’s right.
I think the Bible gives a better picture of Jesus. It is found in Revelation 19:11-16 and it describes a man who demands our respect, our reverence, our worship, and our devotion. (Read Text)
Think about it. Jesus’ ministry lasted just three years, His life lasted only 33 or 34 years, and yet His birth splits time in two! All of history is divided into two parts based on His life! Scripture says that there is one name that is above every single name, the name of Jesus, and that one day every single person on the face of the earth will fall to their knees and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of all.
Jesus asked His disciples one time, “Who do people say that I am?” And they said, “Well you’re like one of the prophets, you know, like Elijah or John the Baptist…” And Jesus said, “Who do you say that I am?” And Peter spoke up and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Everyone agreed that there was something special about Jesus. But don’t miss what Peter is claiming here. To call Jesus the Son of God was to say that He shared all of God’s qualities, privileges, and power. Peter was saying that Jesus was just as worthy of worship as God the Father who the faithful Jews had worshiped in the temple for centuries.
Notice that Jesus didn't object. Rather, He praised Peter, saying, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven." Jesus said, you've got it. I am in fact deity. I am God.
I’m going to ask you what may be the most important question you’ve ever been asked: Who do you say He is? Listen very carefully: I’m not asking who we say He is with our lips, but who do we say He is with our lives, because there is a big difference.
What would our actions over the last seven days say we believe about Jesus? If you really believe that He is Lord then last week you sought Him through His word, because it’s the bread of life. You spent time on your face before Him in worship, because if He’s Lord. You prayed like crazy, because you know that you have direct access through Christ to God. And you looked at people who don’t know Him, and tried to figure out how you could help them to know Him.
What consumed you was the eternal, the things that will last, because you believe that Jesus is Lord.
When I look at my actions with gut-level honesty, I have to admit that too often they don’t really reflect the Lordship of Christ. I don’t just want to say with my lips, “Jesus is Lord”, I want to live it with my life.
If there had been another way to get to God, then Jesus would have never had to be born and never had to die. It’s because of all that, we need to do more than just confess Him with our mouth, We must confess Him with our whole life.
Questions to Consider
Why does Jesus’ claim in John 14:6 cause so many problems for us today?
What were some of the things that the people said about Jesus while He was alive?
Why do you think they said these things?
We said there are three options, Jesus is either as liar, lunatic, or Lord. What is the problem with Jesus being a liar?
What is the problem with Jesus being a lunatic?
What do we learn from Jesus’ encounters with His enemies? (Luke 23:34 is this the way a normal man would use his last breath?)
Read Matthew 10:32-33. What does it mean to fully confess that Jesus is Lord?