Tuesday

1 May 2012

John 14:1-14

"Philip said to him, 'Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.'" (v. 8)

Background

Today's passage begins with Jesus saying to the disciples "do not let your hearts be troubled" (v. 1). This may seem a difficult enough saying for us when we are caught up in the stresses and strains of life, but it must have been even more difficult for the disciples to hear since John tells us that the original context was just before Jesus' arrest. Chapter 13 of John's Gospel tells the story of the Last Supper, including Judas' betrayal and Jesus' prediction that Peter would deny him. It is hardly surprising if the disciples hearts were troubled. In fact, John 13:21 tells us that Jesus was troubled by the knowledge that Judas would betray him.

So this passage comes in the middle of the most difficult of circumstances. Facing his own death and surrounded by betrayal and desertion, Jesus urges his disciples to trust. More than this he urges these men who have spent the last few years with him, and who were able to learn from him by hearing his words and seeing his actions, to believe that he will still be going ahead of them even after his death.

The promise the Jesus offers is that in his father's house there are many 'abiding places' (v. 2 - Revised Version), an idea which perhaps links with the next chapter where Jesus commands his disciples to abide in him as he abides in us (John 15:4-11).

The theme for this week is about the glory of God - so we reflect on verse 8 and Philip's request to see the Father - a request with which many can identify. Imagine Philip's surprise when Jesus replied, in effect, that he had already seen the Father - but had not realised it. The glory of God was both hidden and revealed in Jesus.

Jesus promise in verse 12 that the disciples will do "greater works" than he had done, raises the question of what makes a work 'great'. It is easy to assume that this means 'spectacular' but for John, Jesus' works were 'signs' - they showed something of who God is. What works that we do today can do the same?

To Ponder

  • If we see God in Jesus, what difference does that make to our understanding of God?
  • What makes works 'great'?
  • What can we do today that show something of who God is?


Bible notes author

The Revd Judith Rossall

Judith Rossall is a Methodist tutor at Queen's Foundation in Birmingham. Before moving to Queen's, she was a circuit minister and taught at STETS in Salisbury.