1 May 2017John 14:1-14
“If you know me, you will know my Father also.” (v. 7)
Psalm: Psalm 144
For the Saints' Day of Philip and James, the reading from John's Gospel offers us a conversation between Jesus and his closest followers, notably Thomas and Philip. The first few verses provide a reading of comfort, sometimes spoken at funerals because it quotes Jesus saying he is going "to prepare a place for you" (v. 2).
It may seem an obvious reference to us that Jesus was describing life after his death, somewhere we might call heaven, but clearly Thomas was not so clear about either where Jesus was talking about, or about the way to get there (verse 5)! Jesus responds to Thomas that "I am the way, and the truth, and the life" (v. 6), but this brings Philip into the conversation to ask Jesus to reveal the Father to them.
It is perhaps dangerous to interpret moods from the written word of the Bible, just as it is difficult to interpret the mood of someone writing an email or text message, but I have a hunch that Jesus may have been rather exasperated when he replies to Philip along the lines of 'Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been with you such a long time?' (verse 9).
Today's passage comes at the Last Supper, after Jesus washed his disciples' feet (John 13:1-16), predicting his betrayal (John 13:21-30) as well as Peter's denial (John 13:36-38). 'Don't you know me … after all we've been through for the last three years?'
Leaders of all causes, countries, businesses and churches come and go. Some are easily forgotten, but others linger long in the memory. Those that we admire, or remember with affection, or aspire to be like, are few and far between. But those leaders who profess to be Christian will be known not just for words spoken, but also more for how they behaved towards others. How consistent were they in the principled way of carrying out duties great and small, or how was leadership expressed as service? Know me, know the one that I serve.
This passage ends with the words, "If my name you ask me for anything, I will do it" (v. 14). This is not an invitation to pray a personal wish list and end with "In Jesus's name, Amen". It is rather a call to understand or discern what Christ would do in different circumstances, and then align ourselves to his will. To pray with understanding (in his name), we need to know and understand Jesus, and thus enable him to respond in our own lives.
- Call to mind a Christian leader for whom you have the greatest respect, and then concentrate on just one of their gifts. What might you do today to honour that memory?
- In your prayer time, try to find enough time to let Jesus speak to you about a particular situation, before offering your prayer "in his name".