Do not let your hearts be troubled
Sermon preached by
Jesus said to his disciples: 'Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in 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. 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. 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.' 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. 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. 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. 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.'
The gospel passage in John comes from the middle of the passage where Jesus and His disciples are in the upper room somewhere in Jerusalem just before the Passover feast.
As they have been getting closer to Jerusalem the penny is beginning to drop about what Christ's mission is all about.
Jesus has already predicted His death and told the disciples that His heart and spirit has been troubled.
In the upper room Jesus begins to spell the coming events out in even more detail. He sits down to eat the Passover with His disciples and before they even begin He washes their feet as a sign of His servanthood. He then goes on to predicts both His betrayal by one of the disciples and Peter's denial
Its no wonder the disciples are getting worried.
Everything seems to be coming unravelled, what once seemed clear seems to have got confused. Jesus, sensing their fear and uncertainty comforts them. He explains that there is a purpose to what's going on - even if its not very clear to them now.
At a time when it seems they are just about to become leaderless and rudderless and not know what to do or where to go Jesus tells them that He is going to prepare a place for them and will come back for them so they can be with him for ever. A permanent place where they will live with Him and the Father for all eternity.
The journeying and the travelling will be finally be over. The trials of the journey at an end. And the relationship the disciples have with Jesus and the Father will be changed for ever.
Just like many people know me through the church or through work or some other social contact, but only my children know me as father. Many people know about God, far fewer know Him as Father.
Now the disciples will know God as their Father too.
Not surprisingly this all still seems a bit of a mystery to the disciples and Thomas asks for a bit of clarification.
Er… …we don't know where you are going so how can we know the way?
Jesus says 'I am the way , the truth and the life' - I am the way to the father, I am the way you're looking for. Because to know me fully, says Jesus, is to know the Father.
To be on the way is to have already arrived.
Just as when the disciples were in the boat on the lake and Jesus walked out to them. As soon as they invited Jesus into the boat they were at the other side. As soon as we acknowledge Jesus in our lives the Kingdom becomes part of us and we become part of the Kingdom of God.
To be on the way is to have already arrived.
We don't have to go anywhere to see God's kingdom. The Kingdom of God is both here with us and with God in heaven. But as Jesus goes to the Father the disciples faith and trust would have to reach new dimensions. They would not only have to grasp the truth, they would have to be grasped by the truth and let it rule their lives. A truth that would have repercussions for their lives and their actions day by day.
In a sense faith and trust in Him would only become real after He had left them.
Its where the rubber would meet the road.
John starts off his gospel by announcing that the word became flesh and lived among us for a while. The word came and camped with us - a common concept in the Old Testament from the Tabernacle onwards. John finishes his gospel by promising a permanent place and residence for everyone who knows the Father.
Its as if he's saying all will meet God, some as judge, others as a Father.
So the question becomes how do we know God, what is our relationship with Him?
Jesus says 'If you know me you know the Father' and you can know God as Father through faith in me. It's a promise.
If the disciples forget everything else they need to hang onto this. And as they come to know God as Father more and more so their lives, their actions and their words will be transformed more and more. As God and His people work together so His glory can be revealed.
Its not just about being, its about doing as well.
For the disciples and for us, a relationship with God as Father through faith in the risen Christ cannot help but affect they way we live, the things we do and the way in which we do them.
In God's house there is a permanent place for each one of us. He sees us as individuals, all with individual needs, concerns, troubles, gifts, joys and blessings, just like the disciples.
He knows what's going on for each one of us and He cares.
He's prepared a place for each one of us.
God is at the beginning and the end.
Jesus is the way.
The Spirit which came at Pentecost empowers us for the journey, for anything we ask in His name.
We need to do all we should do along the way, our hearts should not be troubled wherever we are on the journey.
Jesus has gone on before us to prepare the way.
Bible Readings and Notes for 28th April 2002