May 2, 1999

John 14:1-14

Jesus said to his disciples, "Don't be worried! You have faith in God, so have faith in me. There are many rooms in my Father's house. I wouldn't tell you this, unless it was true. I am going there to prepare a place for each of you. After I have done this, I will come back and take you with me. Then we will be together. You know the way to where I am going."

Thomas said, "Lord, we don't even know where you are going! How can we know the way?"

I am the way, the truth, and the life! Jesus answer. "Without me, no one can go to the Father. If you had known me, you would have known the Father. But from now on, you do know him, and you have seen him."

Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father. That is all we need."

Jesus replied: "Philip, I have been with you for a long time. Don't you know who I am? If you have seen me, you have seen the Father. How can you ask me to show you the Father? Don't you believe that I am one with the Father and that the Father is one with me? What I say isn't said on my own. The Father who lives in me does these things.

"Have faith in me when I say that the Father is one with me and that I am one with the Father. Or else have faith in me simply because of the things I do. I tell you for certain that if you have faith in me, you will do the same things that I am doing. You will do even greater things, now that I am going back to the Father. Ask me, and I will do whatever you ask. This way the Son will bring honor to the Father. I will do whatever you ask me to do."


1. A most interesting and problematic passage. This is one that could stand some help from a larger context. Just prior to these conversations Jesus has given a new command: "You must love each other, just as I have loved you. If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples." Jesus follows that by noting Peter's vow of undying fidelity will be broken three times before dawn (before the rooster crows). Then we get these words about knowing the way.
     Yes, we know that loving one another is the way. No, we don't know where that will lead and so how can we trust such a way?
     Before being called Christians the followers of Jesus were probably known as the People of the Way. The way is loving one another, even when uncomfortable. That would be a distinctive, counter-cultural way of living that would positively identify someone as a disciple of Jesus. To enter into that way is participate in a larger than private truth and lead to more life than could be held. The starting point for this whole conversation is Jesus' last teaching, last command.

2. The questions keep coming, what must I do to have eternal life? what else must I do? who is my neighbor? Is showing kindness really what it is all about? Isn't that too simple?
     "Show us more!" is the cry. Jesus simply says, "You've seen it all, there is no more to show." "Here I am." How unsatisfying for inquiring minds. "Jesus loves me, even me," seems somehow unsatisfying. In not being able to receive love from another, we don't participate in giving it.
     Eventually it will have to dawn that loving one another so well that it becomes an identifying mark is the only way to larger truth and life. When there the natural course of events will be larger deeds than have ever been done. We will truly stand on Jesus' shoulders and he will rejoice to support even greater things coming through our relationships.

3. A great danger is personalizing and privatizing who is going to get their way. That isn't what asking and getting what we ask for is about. This whole section is plural in nature. The defining term is mutual love. When such is at work asking becomes a great inside joke. We will already know how to be cared for and how to care for. What we will ask for is not lottery winnings but more folks to love and be loved by. Pretty ideal? Yep. And yet, so worth striving for that we might approach as closely as possible a common dwelling place where we will be together. All other dreams pale in contrast to this one.

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