Sunday, May 18, 2014

Some Snippets on John 14

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God, believe also in me.  

At the time of their last gathering, when Jesus has washed the feet and the meal has been had and Judas has run off to do his dirty work, Jesus (1) tells his disciples he’s leaving and they can’t go with him and then (2) gives his followers their last and most important marching orders: Love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.  By this [loving] everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

After pointing out how the grand claims to love will ring empty (Jesus’ prediction that Peter will betray him three times) Jesus’ very next words are but don’t worry about that.  Just believe.  Believe God.  Believe me.

In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.  

Jesus speaks of relationship with God as a home place – a place already ready and waiting . . . a place for you . . . where the sheets are clean and the bed already turned down, where your name is set in a place of honor . . . where you will be made not merely welcome, but at home . . .

And you know the way to the place where I am going.”  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. 

I am . . . the way . . . the truth . . . the life . . . Jesus could just as well have said I am your way, your truth, your life . . . walk as I walk . . . live as I have lived . . . proclaim as I have proclaimed . . . this is your journey and your destination, all wrapped in to one . . . do not worry, for you really do know . . . you have seen me and in seeing me, you have seen the face of God and lived . . . keep seeing me and you will keep living, keep loving . . . for the fact is, you really do know the way because you know me.

No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

This is not a creedal statement of our faith; rather, this is Jesus’ statement about his own identity.  This is Jesus’ own proclamation that he is The Divine.  Jesus is making it as clear as he can to his disciples that they have seen God (the Father) because they have seen Jesus.  They are one and the same.  Philip’s question and Jesus’ answer make that even more clear:

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”  Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.  

The very voice of God speaks now directly to Philip: Here I am, standing right before you.  Philip, I’m right here.  Right here, right now, you can be satisfied, made whole, filled . . . for right here, right now, I am.

Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 

To make this be about miracles is too limited, too small, a claim.  Jesus is speaking here to one of his disciples, one who has lived, eaten, walked alongside, slept with, listened to, this Jesus.  Philip has seen the private face as well as the public one and thus is uniquely qualified to know Jesus through and through.  This is about knowing.

This isn’t about faith.  This is about understanding – about knowing the nature, the character of God . . . of knowing what kind of god God is.

And there is God, standing right in front of Philip and declaring, here I am, your exhibit A – know me and know what kind of God I am . . . know me and be comforted . . . know me . . .

This, perhaps, is the most surprising thing about the entirety of the New Testament: God is a god who wishes to be known.  Like you know your best friend known.  Like you know your lover known.  Like you know your husband or wife of 50 years+ known.  Like you know every crevasse of your baby’s body known.  Like you know the back of your own hand known.

There is a poignancy to this plea of God’s, this almost begging desire to be seen, to be understood, to be known.

And there, in that exchange with Philip, is the sum of our faith: behold your God . . . see your God . . . in the face, in the words, and especially in the doing, know Jesus, know your God.

Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 

And in this seeing, in this knowing, there is an unleashing of great things where wonder walks the earth . . . and maybe, just maybe, he speaks of miracles and wonders . . . and maybe, just maybe, we were made to heal and also to upset the social order the way Jesus upset tables . . . maybe, just maybe, we were made to preach and proclaim and also to care about and from our caring feed the thousands as he did . . . maybe, just maybe, we were made to tell stories and also to sweat out our prayers like blood and pray reality into existence as he did . . . and maybe, just maybe, we, like Jesus, are here to love and in our loving, to make the God who so desires to be known be obvious to a world looking so hard for a little love.

I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

Whether we say so or not, all that we do, we do in his name, under his authority, his claim upon our lives.  All that we claim, we claim in his name, under his authority, his claim upon our lives.

Jesus answers for us because we are his.  Simple as that.

This life we live, these things we do, we live and do not on our own behalf, but on behalf of the one in whose name we come.

And so do we pray in Jesus’ name not as a magical incantation, as if stamping Jesus’ name on the end of our prayers guarantees their answer to our satisfaction.  Rather do we act in Jesus’ name in recognition that what we do and how we do it, which includes our prayers, we do only within the identity of Jesus as the Risen One, as God’s very self.  Thus do we merge into the God that God is, becoming one as God and Jesus himself are one.

It is an incredible gift and an incredible responsibility.

And it is all wrapped up in one simple sentence: my house is yours.  Where I live, you live.  Where I go, you go.  Where I am, you are.



  1. I like your response- to the last few verse-- I was not sure what to do with them-- so I didn't and focused on the rest of the text with a heavy emphasis that God was doing all the work- and even moving us toward the "house" something we could not do for ourselves based on my exegesis of vs. 6b

    I think the next time I preach on this I want to talk about the commison and - and asking in Jesus' name

    Thanks for the thoughts- I hope I remeber them in 3 years