The Ultimate Answer
This morning I want to talk to you about the answer to all of the ultimate questions of life. But we need to be careful, because this can get a little tricky.
The story is told about a pastor who every Sunday, before he preached to the adults, brought all the children up front where they would sit and he'd tell them a story. One day he said, "Boys and girls, I want to tell you a story about someone who likes to live in the woods, but sometimes we can see him in our yards. Anybody have any idea who I’m talking about?" No takers. He went on, "I want to tell you about a creature that lives in the woods and sometimes in our yards, has a big bushy tail, and likes to eat nuts. Anybody have any idea who I'm talking about?" Not a word. He said, "I'm talking about a creature that lives in the woods, sometimes in our yards, big bushy tail, eats nuts, likes to climb trees, jumps from tree to tree--now, does anybody know who I'm talking about?" One kid finally raises his hand and gives this answer "I know the answer should be Jesus, but it sure sounds like a squirrel to me." [i]
I think this boy is like a lot of us when it comes to the big questions of life. We know the answer is Jesus, but we’re not exactly sure why or how Jesus is the answer.
I think we can clear some of this up by first understanding is that Jesus is not the answer to every question. The answer to this preacher’s question was not Jesus—it was a squirrel. If you go to class tomorrow and take a test on geography, and the question is “What is the capital of Florida?” you better not write Jesus—you’d better write, “Tallahassee.”
At the same time, this little boy points out one very important principle: Jesus is the answer to the ultimate questions of life. When you face the most important questions—questions such as “How can I get to God?” or “How can I know what’s really true?” or “How can I live my life to the fullest?” Jesus really is the correct answer.
At some point every single one of us asks these questions and Jesus tells us in John 14:6 He is the right answer. This morning I want to explore with you why and how Jesus is the answer to your ultimate questions. First, let’s pray.
Let’s begin with the first question:
Question #1- How can I get to God? Jesus says I am the Way.
During the months following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, you might remember a lot of people suddenly seemed to turn to God for comfort and security. Religious services were televised from the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. and from Yankee Stadium in New York.
These services included ministers from Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. They offered prayers to the God they addressed as “the God of Abraham, the God of Muhammad, and the Father of Jesus Christ.” Oprah Winfrey led the service held in New York City and boldly declared that all people pray to the same God.
I hate to question the words of such a noted theological giant as Oprah Winfrey, but is this really true?
One of the main questions anthropologists ask about any culture is who/what/how do they worship? Find the most primitive tribe on earth, and you find them worshipping something. Religion is a universal aspect of human life. It seems to be hardwired into us to try figure out some way to find God, and to know Him.
Yet many modern folks try to ignore this need to connect with God. We build our world around our families, our friends, entertainment, work, education, or any of countless diversions, designed to help us cope with God’s absence.
When do most of us begin looking for God? When disaster or tragedy or death tears away our thin veneer of self-sufficiency. When you realize you’re not really in control of life, death, or much of anything else that happens in between. When you see suffering up close and personal, when you look down into a casket and ache for comfort, this is when you end up struggling with the question Is there a God? How can I find Him? How can I know Him?
Jesus answers this ultimate question by declaring I am the Way…no one comes to the Father except through Me.
The word Way = lit., road, path. Imagine yourself in the middle trying to find the one path that will lead you to God. Many paths lead out from where you are, but only one route gets you from where you are to God is. Jesus says I am that path.
Sorry Oprah. Everybody is not praying to the same God. So many believe the common misconception If you’re sincere and do the best you can, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Muslim or a Mormon, or no religion at all. There are many different paths to God, so it really doesn’t make much difference which one you take.
This is a lie. Like most lies it contains a small grain of truth. Most all religions stumble onto something true about God. Muslims say there’s only one God, and they’re right, but His Name is not Allah. Mormons tell us families are important to God, and they’re right, but families are not the most important thing to God. Even an atheist might be a very morally upright person.
What Jesus says is that lots of people have a few correct facts about God, but only He Himself can get you from where you are to where God is.
Christ is not one of many ways to approach God, nor is he the best of several ways; He is the only way. -A. W. Tozer
Either He’s right, or He’s wrong, but there’s nothing confusing about Jesus’ answer to the question how can I get to God? Only through Christ.
This means two things:
That means He is the only way you initially get to God.
Acts 4:12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
To get to God the Bible says you must first come to Christ to be saved from your sins. You must repent and come to Him by faith, trusting His death on the Cross paid the price for your forgiveness, and surrendering yourself to Him as your Master. You must come to God through faith in Christ. You simply can’t get to God any other way.
There was a missionary who got lost in an African jungle--nothing around him but bush and a few cleared places. He found a native hut and asked the native if he could lead him out. The native said he could. "All right," said the missionary, "show me the way." The native said, "Walk." So they walked and hacked their way through unmarked jungle for more than an hour. The missionary got worried. "Are you quite sure this is the way? Where is the path?" The native said, "Bwana, in this place there is no path. I am the path."[ii]
Jesus is the Way, the only Path to get to God. It’s not enough to be religious, or moral, or as good as you can be. You must come through Jesus Christ, if you want to get to God. Do you need to get to God this morning? Then you need to come to Jesus. Will you come to Him?
Question # 2- How can I find truth that makes sense of everything else?
II. JESUS IS THE ULTIMATE SOURCE OF TRUTH
People are not just looking for God—they’re looking for truth, even though society tries its best to tell us there is no such thing.
According to one researcher, 64% of all adults in America say truth is merely personal opinion; the number rises to 83% among teenagers.
I hope this statistic alarms you, but it doesn’t alarm everybody.
When UN Secretary General Kofi Annan accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001, he told the world: The idea that there is one people in possession of the truth, one answer to the world's ills or one solution to humanity's needs has done untold harm throughout history.
But that doesn’t keep us from wanting the truth. When you ask your teenage daughter where she’s been and who she’s been with, you expect the truth—not her opinion. When you ask that same question from your boyfriend/girlfriend, you’re not asking for their version of the truth. Guys when you’re keeping up with the score of the game, you expect whoever is in charge to tell you the truth. When the cashier doesn’t give you enough change, and you tell her she owes you more money, would you be satisfied if she replies That’s just your opinion.
The doctor tells me I need to take this medicine to help me get well, and I just look at him and say, Doc, thanks for your take on this! But I think I think I just need to eat more and exercise less! You might say truth is just somebody’s opinion but that doesn’t work very well in real life, does it?
This issue becomes especially important when you start looking for truth with a capital “T” You might find yourself struggling with truth questions such as :
Why am I here? What’s the purpose of life? How do I know what’s right and what’s wrong? What does it really mean to love and be loved by somebody? What really happens when a person dies? Is this all there is—or is there more? How can I make the right decisions?
How can you answer the ultimate question what is true? Jesus says at the center of everything that is really true you will find Him.
I am the Truth…no one comes to the Father except by Me.
What does He mean? He means He has all the right answers for life. Jesus doesn’t say I will tell you the truth or even I will show you the truth. He says I am the truth. He is the embodiment of all truth. Everything true is true because it corresponds to Who He is and what He has done. All truth is grounded in Jesus. This is why the Bible says about Jesus in
Colossians 2:3 in [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
The true answers to life’s most perplexing riddles are found ultimately in Christ—including anything and everything you need to know about God, about life, and about death. He has all the true answers to all of life’s most important questions.
Steve Winger from Lubbock, Texas, writes about his last college test final: To help us on our test, the professor told us we could bring as much information to the exam as we could fit on a piece of notebook paper. Most students crammed as many facts as possible on their 8-1/2 x 11 inch sheet of paper. But one student walked into class, put a piece of notebook paper on the floor, and had an advanced logic student stand on the paper. The advanced logic student told him everything he needed to know…to receive an "A."[iii]
When you need to know the ultimate truth about life and death, right and wrong, you don’t just need more information: you need Somebody who knows all the right answers. You need the Lord Jesus Christ. Only He has the true answers for life’s ultimate questions.
I wonder how many of us long for truth this morning? You need answers that are not just somebody’s opinion—not just an advertiser’s sales pitch--you need real answers to your questions. You need to come to Christ. He the truth. He can give you the ultimate answers you need for life. Finally, Jesus gives us another answer to one of life’s ultimate questions:
Question # 3- How can I live life to the fullest?
III. JESUS IS THE KEY TO LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST
I suppose a wheel is one of the keys to a happy hamster. How many of you have ever seen a hamster running on a wheel? Those little creatures can really get that thing spinning. They actually seem to get a kick out of making it spin faster and faster, never bothered by questions like why am I always running and never getting anywhere? Is the best I can hope for—a little food, a sturdy cage, and a nice shiny wheel that keeps me moving? Is this all there is to life?
But you and I ask that question don’t we? We build our nice shiny cages where we feel comfortable and safe, and we run that wheel chasing pleasure, or money, or youth, or something that will make our lives worth living. At some point the ugly question that never enters a hamster’s mind raises its head in your mind, is there to more to life than this?
Jesus answers this question when He says I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.
What does Jesus mean when He says I am… the Life? I think two other verses can shed some light here. The first one can be found in John 10:10 and the second in John 3:16.
Jn 10:10 … I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
Jn 10:10 My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. NLT
In the context of John 10, Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd, and those who believe in Him He calls His sheep. Our Lord is speaking of a new quality of life for those who follow Him. Jesus is saying I didn’t come to earth to fill their lives with misery—I came to lead them into living life to the fullest, not just in the hereafter, but in the here and now.
It is unfortunate some people think of abundant life only in terms of wealth or health or comfort. Living life to the fullest is not a matter of always getting what you want, or turning God into your personal genie Who grants your every wish. Abundant life is life that really matters, a life full of love that can overcome hatred, full of goodness that always triumphs over evil, full of peace that cannot be shaken up by hardships. When He says I am the Life He is saying I am the key to living life right now to the fullest.
Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Everlasting life=eternal life=a life that lives forever. Everybody exists forever, but the Bible says after your body dies, you either go on dying forever in hell, or you go on living forever with Christ. There is no 3rd option. Jesus says I am the key to living life to the fullest in eternity.
My friend, you really cannot live life to its fullest without Christ.
You can keep running the wheel, chasing after life’s pleasures and comforts, but never really reach your destination. Or you can get off the wheel, get out of the cage, and come to Jesus, and live life to the fullest.
You begin to live life to the fullest when you turn from your sins to Christ, believe in Him alone as your Savior, surrender to Him alone as your Master. You begin to experience more of life at its fullest as you love Him more dearly, follow Him more faithfully. Then you discover for yourself that Christ truly is the key that unlocks the door of life at its fullest.
Jn 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
Will you step off the wheel and out of the cage and step into abundant eternal life this morning?
Charlie Brown [Charles Schulz, "Peanuts"] wisely concluded "In the book of life's questions, the answers are not in the back."[iv]
So where do you find the answers?
I believe there are some here this morning who need some answers. I can’t give you the answers to every question you have this morning, but I can tell you where to begin: begin with Jesus.
How can you get to God? Only through Christ. You may be here this morning and you know a lot about God, but you’ve never really made that personal connection with Him. Won’t you come to Christ, and let Him get you to God this morning?
How can you know the truth? You’re tired of spin and hype and opinions and deception. You need to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Won’t you come to Christ this morning and discover the truth that truly sets you free?
How can you live life to the fullest? You’ve tried every key you can find to unlock the door of purpose, peace, and fulfillment. Why not try the one key that opens wide the door to abundant, eternal life. Won’t you come to Christ and start to really live?
I invite you to come this morning and discover for yourself Jesus really is the answer.
[i] Haddon Robinson, "When Good Snakes Become Bad Snakes," Preaching Today, Tape No. 145.
[ii] James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 313.
[iii] Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 4.
[iv] Bits and Pieces, October 10, 1996, 1.