top of page

Our Unfailing Guide

Sermon 1861 John 14.1-11 May 7, 2023

Come, meet the risen Christ. Think of that in these Sundays after Easter. Work on that in these Sundays after Easter.

One Christmas I got a book, Hiking Las Vegas: 60 Hikes within 60 Minutes of the Strip. It was a great book. Lots of pictures and maps, solid descriptions of the scenery and a reasonable rating guide. Almost idiot proof.

The family had been on a new hike and it was not going well. Ninety minutes into the hour-long hike we were facing a steep climb straight up the face of a cactus studded hill. Elyse got exasperated and demanded to see the book. (Thata girl, a chip off the old block!) She looked briefly at the picture and then looked up, pointing to a mountain in the distance. “That’s Mummy Mountain.” We’re supposed to be going to the east, not the west! Then for good measure, she said, “We’re going exactly the wrong way!” (Chip off the old block, that girl.)

Almost idiot proof. But, turns out, I was an idiot.

Wouldn’t you like to have a guide who is me-proof and you-proof? Such a guide exists. He is Jesus,

Our Unfailing Guide

1. Destination guaranteed (1-4).

2. The only path (5-6).

3. Clearly marked (7-14).

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. 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. You know the way to the place where I am going (1-4).”

The disciples were riled up. They had been since Palm Sunday when Jesus rode into Jerusalem to the cheers of the entire town—except for the stony silence turning into sharp objections of the religious leaders. And the rest of the week which we know as Holy Week had been a roller coaster ride. The people flocked to Jesus while the leaders conspired. And Jesus had been dropping lots of hints about the end, almost like the end of the world was coming. “Don’t keep being riled up,” Jesus said. Their destination was guaranteed.

The whole point of Jesus’ mission was coming to an end. He would prepare heaven for them. He would move events in heaven and on earth to see to it that the Gospel of his forgiveness of sins would be preached throughout the world and that people would believe and, continuing to believe to the end, reach their destination, heaven. Guaranteed by Jesus. He was going to make it happen. That’s the way it was going to be.

Sometimes it seems like we like to be riled up. It makes the juices flow. It makes us feel so superior when we can rant and rave about the ignoramuses, ignoramusi, ignoramuseseses… Nothing is right. Everything is wrong. Why did God put together such a mess!

It is the devil who is handing us the paddle and egging us on to stir the pot. Following Jesus becomes impossible when we make God the problem. A life of trust and contentment is ill-considered when we don’t even want to reach the destination Jesus has in mind for us. Wiser to set out on our own.

Our griping and sniping don’t stop Jesus. He comes to us the same way he started his ministry. “Repent and believe the Good News.” He is still preparing for us, making sure we hear of his forgiveness, making sure we find discontent and frustration when all the ways we want to go turn into dead ends. He is our unfailing guide leading us to a destination guaranteed.

Our unfailing guide takes us on the only path.

“Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (5-6).’”

It hit me the other day. People slam Christianity as bigoted, narrow-minded, proud and boastful, as if it were the only way to heaven. How dare they! No, that wasn’t what popped into my mind. That slam against our unfailing guide has been there as long as the devil’s temptation—“Did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden?” What hit me is that it is the only way—how can you miss it? When I was a kid I hung out with my friends a lot at the tennis courts in La Crescent. Our tennis balls were rubbed down to the rubber backing we played so much tennis. And somebody from out of town would stop and ask us 8th graders for directions. Our town was only 3000, so it was easy. You go down this or that road, there’s a corner grocery store right after the elementary school, you take a right and you are there. There was only one elementary school! It was the only corner grocery store in town! You could not miss it! A four-year old could give you the directions and they would still work. We would scratch our heads when, once in a great while, they would return and ask for clarification. Made us real eager to grow up and enter the ranks of clueless adults.

It is the only way to heaven. There is no other. You cannot get lost when you follow our unfailing guide. He tells the truth. Everything he says lines up with what the Bible says. His predictions were true. Betrayed, condemned, crucified, died and was buried. On the third day he rose again. You don’t even have to know the Bible chapter and verse. All you have to know is the Apostles Creed or the Nicene Creed which we recite almost every time we are in church. And, I know this is almost impossible to believe, it gets even easier. Our unfailing guide is the way. He brings us to heaven. He gets us to heaven. He is like those moving walkways in the airport. Just stand on it and it will move you along the hallway to your destination. Caesar’s Forum has one of those, too. You’d have to be a high jumper to get off it. Caesar’s knows that. That’s why they have one coming into their property, but none going out. The only path. Our unfailing guide knows it.

Our unfailing guide is clearly marked.

Since I mentioned the Strip, I might as well stay there. Have you ever seen those foreign tourist groups? A throng of Japanese or Chinese. They are on a tour group. You know it is a tour group because either in the midst of them or in front of them is a tour guide. He is clearly marked because he is carrying a big sign for all to see and all the others are looking at clearly marked maps telling them where they are going next. It is expected that they will lose money on the slot machines, but it is a definite no-no to lose a member of the tour group. The guide is clearly marked and the path is clearly marked. It never fails. Our unfailing guide is clearly marked.

He is marked by the Father. God the Father was, I don’t want to say “living inside Jesus,” because the term we use is “indwelling.” There is a perfect unity among the persons of the Trinity. Where Jesus goes, God the Father goes and God the Holy Spirit, too, for that matter. And the very nature of a son is to carry out the wishes and dreams of the father. “He’s like a son to me,” a proud boss says of his life-long assistant. Listen to Jesus describe it. “The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves (10-11).”

Our unfailing guide is clearly marked because he speaks the words the Father has given him to speak. Jesus’ words are also the Father’s words. No tangents, no going rogue. No need for backtracking. And when Jesus mentions the miracles, the same holds true. The Father is working through Jesus as Jesus performs these miracles. Earlier in his life Jesus told the religious leaders he only performs the miracles the Father shows him. The words of the Father clearly mark our unfailing guide. The miracles the Father shows through Jesus clearly marks our unfailing guide.

But there is always going to be a portion of people who like those clueless strangers who returned to a group of junior high kids at the tennis courts to ask for directions again. They missed the school. They thought we told them to look for a gas station, not a corner grocery store. People can get distracted. They can miss landmarks.

Our unfailing guide makes sure we don’t miss the landmarks. They are clearly marked in our own lives. “Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name (12-13).”

Miraculous things will happen through our Christian lives. A wife’s life is saved because the husband got impatient waiting for the primary’s callback and carried his sick wife into an ER room where a doctor immediately recognized what was wrong and gave her a life-saving injection. A group of preschool and elementary children pray for rain and the lake goes up two feet. Then they pray for cool weather and it barely hits 80 the first week of May. The spiritually dead will come to life by the Holy Spirit working through the Gospel we share.

Answered prayers. Unexplained deliverances. Faith upon faith holding on to the promises of Jesus. Yes, he is our unfailing guide. Yes, this is the clearly marked path.

Our Unfailing Guide

1. Destination guaranteed (1-4).

2. The only path (5-6).

3. Clearly marked (7-14).

My children would counsel never, never let me serve as your leader on a hike. So much easier for the past thirty-something years to simply point you to our unfailing guide and follow along!

Featured Posts
Recent Posts