Insert text here.
John 14:1, NIV1 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me."
John 14:1, NIV
December 10, 2011These 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, 2011Jesus 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, 2011Now 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.