His Way and My Way
And you know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
It was the first week of Lent. A clergyman was walking to church in the night. A thief pulled a gun on him and demanded money or his life. When he reached into his pocket to hand over his wallet, the robber saw his white clerical collar and said, “Oh, I see you are a priest. Never mind! You may go.” The clergyman was surprised his unexpected act of piety and offered him a candy bar. The robber said, “No thank you. I don’t eat candy during Lent.” 1
The season of Lent is a good time to reflect on how much our Lord loves His disciples 2000 years ago and now. Many Christians have desires of coming closer to the Lord by remembering His suffering.
In the Catholic tradition, Lent is known as the time of fasting and suffering from Ash Wednesday until Easter. I believe it started with a good intention, but it created an indigestible tradition, like ‘Mardi Gras,’ which is a festival of eating fatty foods and drinking as much before the Lenten season. It sounds like enjoying intemperance before the holy season, which is putting ash on the forehead and abstaining from meat and other favorites, just like the robber.
Many churches encourage the congregation to participate in His agony by stopping what they like and their favorites so that they can be more sacred. Some Christians limit watching TV, eating or drinking while kids limit their smartphones and games.
I am not sure we can be sacred by limiting TVs and smartphones. It leads us to be a legalistic and seasonal Christian. I would recommend you to read the Bible more and pray more for your family and church members if you haven’t done it regularly, which helps you to come closer to the Lord.
The prophet, Isaiah (53:5) said, “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds, we are healed.” Yes. That’s Jesus Christ suffered to save us.
As Isaiah prophesied, Christ had to endure such pain to give us the freedom from the eternal condemnation. When we meditate His compelling agape love for us on the cross, our heart becomes full of grace and thankfulness. He cried out, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) His cry was actually our cry. Our soul would cry out like Jesus when we are suffering.
I remember how much Ruth suffered when our son had a cut on his eyebrow. He was playing “Five little monkeys jumping on the bed.” Then, he hit his eyebrow to the corner of the bed. When the doctor needed to stitch the cut, my son vigorously resisted. He was so strong that three nurses and I had to hold him tight while the doctor completed the stitch. Ruth was crying and weeping when she saw her son’s suffering.
Just like Ruth’s heart for her son, Christ knew our weakness and suffering. That’s why Jesus cried out for us, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” Because of His suffering, we can have the peace with God and have the abundant life in Christ. He was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, punished for our peace, and wounded for our suffering.
When Jesus said, “you know the way to the place where I am going,” the disciples could not comprehend it. He meant He was going to the Father in Heaven. So, Thomas asked again, “We don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way.” Jesus is the way of the salvation and the way to Heaven. God prepared this way in Christ.
- However, His way was not a glorious way, but a way of suffering
When He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, People shouted, “Hosanna!!” and welcomed Him as the Messiah. But, they did not know that he was going to be tortured, to be pierced, to be crushed, to be punished, and to be wounded. He took the suffering to give us the abundant life. Since He paid for it with His life, we can overcome those in our life. Amen.
- His way was not a welcoming way, but a way of betray
His disciples thought He would be welcomed and become the glorious Messiah. But, He was betrayed and arrested powerlessly. They were very disappointed.
- His way was not to be happy, but to be mourning
Even though He was the Messiah, He always gets along with poor people and sick people. He mourned with lonely people. He was the light and hope for those weak and hopeless people.
- His way was a lonely way, not a way to earn fame
Because He healed and fed people, they wanted to be with him always. However, he did not trust the people because their hearts were not with him. They just cared what they get from Him. To keep up the relationship with the Father, He made time to be alone to pray to the Father God.
How about our way?
Isaiah 53:6, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” We all go our own way to follow my favorites, my desires, my selfishness, and all about me. Always, Me, and Me. Now, we can see His way was far different than our way and my way.
My way used to reject the love of Christ and to follow my own earthly righteousness. I used to love everything about me – my ego, my selfish desires, the earthly things, and ungodliness – until I realized how much Christ loves me.
Once, I experience His love, I surrendered myself to Him and decided to follow Him. Then, I know He is the way, the truth, and the life. And, I believe Him as the Lord and Savior. Now His way is my way because He is in me and I am in Him. Even though I am struggling with the desires of my flesh and the desires of the Holy Spirit, I am willing to follow the way He calls me. Keeping up His commission to share the Gospel with the neighbor and the world is the way the Lord asks us to follow.
Do you remember the Quo Vadis movie?
It was a fiction based on the Biblical background. The Christians were severely persecuted by Roman Emperor Nero. Peter was fleeing the city because the Roman church suggested him to save himself to help other churches later. On the way out from the city, Peter met the resurrected Jesus who was carrying the cross and heading toward the city.
Peter asked Jesus, “Quo Vadis, Domine?” That means, “Where are you going, Lord?” Jesus answered, “If you desert my people, I am going to Rome to be crucified a second time.” When Peter heard this, he was deeply ashamed so that he returned to Rome and died there. The Bible doesn’t say about his death, but according to another source, he died on the cross upside down. He requested that way because he thought he was not worthy to die the same way as the Lord died.
In John 13:36-37, Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?”
Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Just like Peter, at first, we neither know the way nor follow the way He called. But now, not only we want to, but also we are more than excited to follow the Lord because we know He is the way, the truth, and the life. Before we believed in Jesus, His way and my way was not the same, but now His way is my way. Amen.