John 14:1, NIV
1 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also
in me."

December 10, 2011
These next three verses often stand alone as a funeral reading. But
they are really a continuation of the conversation Jesus had with his
disciples after he washed their feet during the final Passover meal
they would share together.

Jesus was going away and he was trying to make it as easy as
possible for his loyal followers. They wanted to know why they couldn't
go with him now, rather than later as Jesus had just explained to them?

Fear is such a common and dreadful feeling. Many times throughout
the Synoptic gospels Jesus told his disciples to "Fear not!" He seemed
to equate fear with lack of faith. Now in this passage from John, Jesus
tells them not to be upset and anxious about his words or by the
thoughts and the scenes which they imagine in their minds. Again
Jesus equates a troubled heart with lack of faith.

They needed to trust in God. And trust Jesus to be doing what he was
sent to do. Sounds easy, doesn't it! Trust and don't be alarmed. Can
we really remain calm by believing God will protect us? Could we really
prevent fear from dominating our emotions if we truly believed? God
before us, behind us, beside us, above and beneath us? If we envision
ourselves enclosed within the providential care of God could we live
without fear?

Jesus seemed to think so. To him, fear was a greater adversary than
doubt. Fear was the opposite of faith, A troubled heart means you do
not trust God. Ironically just a few verses earlier it said Jesus was
troubled in spirit because one of them was going to betray him. The
disciples were distressed and anxious because Jesus was leaving
them; Jesus was concerned and sad for the one who would betray him
and for those he was leaving behind. Being troubled can work you up
into a fighting mood, or calm you down into acceptance of the inevitable.
Both reactions can be good and helpful, the trick is to know which one
is appropriate for the situation. 


                                              John 14:2-3, NIV
2 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. 3 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."

December 11, 2011
Jesus continues to comfort/strengthen his disciples. He does so by
painting a picture for them of his Father's house. There are many
rooms and much space. And Jesus was going ahead to prepare a
place for each of his faithful followers. Someday Jesus will return for
them and take them with him to his Father's house. Reunited, they
will live with Jesus once more.

It's a very simple image. Jesus was going home. There he would make
ready a place for his disciples and someday return for them and at that
time take them home to his Father's house to be with him, presumably
forever where they would never part company again.

The pathway leading to the Father's house--it sounds like the only way
they could find it is if Jesus came back and escorted them. Jesus
knows the way; he is the road. Our final destination is to be wherever
Jesus is.


                                             John 14:4-7, NIV
4 "You know the way to the place where I am going. 5 Thomas
said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how
can we know the way?" 6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the
truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From
now on, you do know him and have seen him."

December 12, 2011
Now Jesus said we do know the way to his Father's house. Thomas
begged to differ. He did not know where Jesus was going. Capernaum,
Bethsaida, Jericho, Bethany--Thomas knew all those places and how
to get there. They were real. On the map. A father's house with many
rooms--what kind of journey's end was that! How was Thomas to
believe something he could not envision, had never experienced, and
did not even want to hear about? Can a person know the way if they
don't know where they are going! Jesus said yes.

Thomas was a "show me" kind of guy. He wanted to see, hear, touch,
taste or smell it. Maybe distress blocked him from seeing the picture
Jesus was describing. Thomas was in a protesting mood. Right now
it would be difficult to explain anything to him.

John has many passages wherein Jesus claimed to be one with God,
that Jesus was in God and God was in him. I don't remember reading
those words in the other three gospels. Is this the first place in the
Gospel accounts where it states this so plainly?--I am in the Father;
the Father is in me.

Getting to know Jesus means getting to know God as well. For John,
Jesus is not merely the Son of God, Jesus is God. Jesus alerted
Thomas to this truth: Although God is spirit, in me you know and have
experienced God. Faith believes what we can not see and handle.

The way, the truth and the life. Jesus is the way to God. He reveals
the truth about God and the wonderful gift of eternal life which God
offers us. Jesus opens the door, lifts the veil, and lovingly invites us
to partake of the bounteous mercies of our heavenly Father.

By this time in Jesus' ministry, Thomas should have known that the
words his Lord and Master spoke held a spiritual meaning. Going to
his Father, dying, being glorified--were all the same concept. It was
what he was sent to do and he would surely complete his task.

We know, too, from previous teachings of Jesus to be careful not to
read and interpret the words too literally. Suppose these verses are not
about a house or a final destination. Perhaps the dwelling place of God
is not a location, but a relationship wherein we abide, one that cannot
be experienced in the flesh but must be lived in the spirit. Jesus was
going to die. His earthy life was quickly coming to an end.

Within a few days, after the shock and as the process of realigning their
lives begins, these disciples would again live with Jesus, but on a
different level. Maybe we need to put the emphasis on the Father,
not the house.

Like Thomas, we don't know where the future will take us. Yet Jesus
reassures us we can confidently know "the way." And we don't have
to wait until we die. Jesus is getting a spot ready where we can
experience the presence of God now. Wherever we go, wherever we
are, Jesus has prepared for us "a place of quiet rest near to the heart
of God." This is where he invites us to abide--secure within an eternal
relationship with our Creator made possible through Jesus Christ.
So maybe this passage is not about life after death, but life with our
ever-living Jesus.

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