Sunday 14 May 2017

Bible Book:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.” (v. 1)

John 14:1-14 Sunday 14 May 2017

Psalm: Psalm 31


"In my Father's house are many mansions…" (v. 2) is one of thebest-known of Bible readings and one used at many a funeral. Itcomes from that long passage in John's Gospel, known by scholars asthe Farewell Discourses, during which Jesus, having shared in theLast Supper with his disciples, bids farewell to them and tries toprepare them for what is to follow.

At the end of the previous chapter Jesus has spoken of going onto a place where the disciples cannot yet follow (John13:36-37), and this has caused some consternation. Hence thischapter begins with his offering some words of comfort andreassurance - "Do not let your hearts be troubled" - and then somereassurance that there is indeed a place for them - "If it were notso, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?"(v. 2)

Typically, it is Thomas (in verse 5) who expresses the doubtsshared by the other disciple: "Lord, we do not know where you aregoing. How can we know the way?" This leads Jesus to make one ofthose great 'I am' statements which are so characteristic of John'sGospel: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes tothe Father except through me" (v. 6). For the rest of this passage,he seeks to explain how it is that he is the way to the Father.

The heart of his message is that to know Jesus is to know theFather, that in Jesus' words and deeds we see the work of theFather. But, as yet, this is too much for the disciples tounderstand. This time it's Philip, the disciple who in a previouschapter had introduced some Greeks who wished to 'see Jesus' (John12:20-22), who now challenges Jesus to "Show us the Father"(v.8). Jesus exercises some forbearance in his reply ("Have I beenwith you all this time…?" (v. 9)) before reiterating that "whoeverhas seen me, has seen the Father" (v. 9). The words which Jesusspeaks are not his own, but those of his Father at work in him;hence the disciples are to "believe that I am in the Father and theFather is in me…" (v. 11).

Whether this represents the actual words Jesus used to hisdisciples or a deep reflection on their meaning after a lifetime'sexperience of faith, we cannot know. As yet, the disciples seem notto understand Jesus fully; but the evangelist is clear that theywill and about what will happen as they grow into the faith ofwhich Jesus speaks, and as he promises that "I will do whatever youask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son" (v.13).

To Ponder

  • Jesus has been described as 'the human face of God'. Howhelpful do you find this image? Why?
  • Some have found the claims made in this passage to be tooexclusive; how do you understand Jesus' words "No one comes to theFather except through me" (v. 6)?
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