Saturday 19 August 2017

Bible Book:

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (v. 6)

John 14:1-14 Saturday 19 August 2017

Psalm: Psalm 64



Caution: If you've just read this passagefrom John's Gospel, then certain alarm bells might be ringing. Ifyou say these words out loud in some parts of the world today thenyour life could be in danger. Even in so-called liberaldemocracies, you'll be shouted down for daring to believe such"arrogant" claims. Claims of ultimate truth, claims of 'only oneroad to God', claims of one Lord being at one with the creator God,are in some places very politically incorrect and in other placesblasphemous to the highest degree. It's true that there has beenmuch damage done by the misuse of these words over the centuries,but before we truly enter into this passage we must lay all thatbaggage aside, find a little peace, and go back to that upper roomin Jerusalem. Come and meet the Jesus who is far from the offensivearrogant dreamer often imagined by the cynics, the critics and(sadly sometimes) the Church. Hear his gentle voice: "Do not letyour hearts be troubled" (v. 1).

Within this most beautiful extended passage of John's Gospel(chapters 13 to 17), we get a very intimate view of Jesus - gentleand passionate, serving and loving. And yet he also seems very muchaware of the realities of the world around him: of the politicalforces that will have him killed; of the failures and inadequaciesof his followers; of the problems and persecutions that will befaced by the Church. Above all, he is driven by an unseen purposeto give his life to ultimately be the world's healer and king.Where's the arrogance in a man who stoops to wash the dusty andsweaty feet of disciples and asks them to do likewise? (John13:1-16). Where's offence in a man whose final commands to hisfriends are about loving one another and being prepared to give uptheir lives for that love? (John13:34-35; 15:12-17). He who embraced the outsider, thedisabled, the poor and the foreigner alike shows a humanity thatour progressive culture is only beginning to catch up with. As themaster who kneels at the feet of his followers, Jesus turns all ourdebates about power, coercion and intolerance on their heads. Andeverything he did and said on that night was preparing them for thecriminal's death he would hold to steadfastly as his vocation andpurpose in life: to meet evil head-on as God's appointed king. Thisis the Jesus who deserves to be taken seriously when he says thathe is one with the Father God (verses 9-11).

Verse 2 of today's passage has some words that would seem oddlyfamiliar to the disciples: 'In my Father's house there are manyrooms and I'm going to prepare a place for you ...". These arealmost identical to the words a proposing groom would say to hisbetrothed, after she has accepted the proposal. In a Jewishengagement ceremony, a young man would offer his intended bride acup of wine. And for her to accept the wine was to accept theproposal. The groom-to-be would then have work to do, and he wouldpromise the betrothed girl that he would return to his family homeand prepare the room for them to begin their married life. When allwas ready he would return to take his bride for the celebration.The disciples were clearly confused by Jesus' words on this night,but this interpretation rings true with some of his parables(eg Matthew 25:1-13), his claims to being thebridegroom (Mark 2:19-20John3:29, referred to in Isaiah and Jeremiah), and points ahead toa final consummation when heaven and earth will be united as one(Revelation 21): the completion of the newcreation.

"No one comes to the Father except through me." This verse mayoffer little comfort to those who cannot yet believe in Christ.However, it's not simply about how to get to heaven (as our messageis often reduced to). This teaching would be reflected upon byJesus' friends not only over the weekend of his death, but also inthe weeks that followed as he appeared to them again, and in thetime after he returned to heaven, while they waited for him to"come again" and take them to himself (v.3). In the meantime, theassurance is there that Jesus doesn't leave them withoutcommunication (verses 13-14) or without the help of the Spirit (seetomorrow's passage) in the troubled time that will come.

As those disciples went on to live in the light of Jesus'resurrection, their question was never simply, 'How can we makesure we go to heaven when we die?', but more like 'How can weremain united with Christ and serve him as his kingdom continues tobe born on earth?' It is in that in-between time with Jesusreigning in heaven and awaiting God's new creation on the earththat we find ourselves today. The news that it's Jesus (and notsomeone else) who is the way to the Father, and that it's Jesus(and not someone else) who reveals the characteristics and purposesof God ought to be good news for the whole of creation.

To Ponder

  • Jesus used to refer to the Jerusalem temple as "my Father'shouse" - it was the place where heaven and earth met in a specialway, where God could be found living among his people. But in thispassage it's clear that he means something different by it. How doyou interpret Jesus' words? Where is the house of God for you?
  • Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life". What doesthis statement mean to you? Does it make a difference in how youlive your life?
  • The Church has often been called the 'Bride of Christ'. In thistime of waiting, what can we look forward to when all is ready? Andhow can we prepare ourselves for his coming?
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