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John 10:1-10

April 21st, 2002

Wesley, Doncaster East

© John M. Connan

We live in an age of relativism. Almost nothing is wrong – unless, that is, it’s politically incorrect, and then it’s absolutely wrong. Otherwise, almost everything is right – for someone. What’s right for you may not necessarily be right for me. Everything’s relative. Nothing’s absolute.

But this, of course, is only a western point of view – and a late 20th Century / early 21st Century point of view.

Western society formerly had absolutes. Some things were definitely – absolutely - right. Some things were definitely – absolutely - wrong. There were written codes of behaviour and unwritten social laws.

Other societies had such absolutes and codes of behaviour. Many still do.

That’s one of the reasons we have such trouble understanding why others do what they do – particularly those from a different religious tradition. We can’t quite understand why they insist that they are absolutely right to do what they do. They’re absolutely sure they’re right – and they’re equally sure we’re absolutely wrong.

Muslims believe that in the beginning God commanded the pen to write and the pen wrote the Koran as his eternal word. This word was revealed to a line of prophets which included Musa [Moses], Daud [David], and Isa [Jesus]. Each time, however, the eternal word of God, the Koran was corrupted, until Jibrail [Gabriel] revealed the Koran to the last of the prophets, Mahomet. So for Muslims – those who submit to God – God’s eternal word, delivered to Mahomet by Jibrail in Arabic and essentially untranslatable, is the source of all knowledge of God and God’s law for humankind. It is absolute and must be obeyed. For Muslims there is only one way: submission to God and God’s ways, Islam.

There was a time when all Christians were as absolutely certain that there was only one who was the way, the truth, and the life[1]: Jesus. They accepted as absolutely true Jesus’ saying: “No-one comes to the Father except through me.”[2] He was “the gate for the sheep.”[3] He was the one who said: “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.”[4] He was the one who said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”[5] He was the one who said, “I and the Father are one.”[6] The claim of Jesus as the entire and absolute revelation of God, God’s eternal word, had been the scandal and stumbling block of the story of Jesus from the very beginning. But all who followed Jesus – at least until the last hundred and fifty years – held it as absolute truth.

So, where are we now?

Is the prevailing mood of western society that there are no absolutes the absolute truth? Dare we set ourselves against the stream of western attitudes and the western world-view?

Is Jesus all that he claimed for himself – or the early Church claimed on his behalf?

Is he the gate through whom all who enter will be saved? Is he the way, the truth and the life? Are Jesus and the Father one? Is he the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End? Is he both the author of creation and the meaning of life? Does he have the right to say, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of”[7]?

Be careful how you answer! If you say “Yes,” there are profound implications. You’ve said, “There are absolutes.” You’ve said:”There is a way of life, which is the way of life which we were created to live.”

You’ve even said, “Jesus is the Gate. All others are sheep stealers, thieves only there to steal and kill and destroy.”[8] And that means you’ve said, “Other understandings of life, other religious faiths do not lead to real and eternal life, more and better life than [I] have ever dreamed of”!

What Jesus claimed for himself – and the early Church claimed for him - is either absolutely true or it’s absolutely false. If there really are absolute truths in life, there is no other choice. You take Jesus at his word – or you deny he has any right to say anything about life and its meaning, or to make any claims about himself and God.

Choose you must. There’s the risk that to choose the absolute claims of Jesus may be absolutely the wrong choice to make. But there’s also the very real possibility that those absolute claims are absolutely right – and have absolutely important consequences for the way you must live your life from now on, as well as absolutely eternal consequences for all time.


[1]John 14:6a.

[2] John 14:6b.

[3] John 10:7.

[4] John 10:9.

[5] Matthew 7:13-14.

[6] John 10:30.

[7] John 10:10: The Message.

[8] cf. John 10:8,10a: The Message.

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