Tuesday 01 May 2018

Bible Book:

“I am the way” (v. 6)

Psalm: Psalm 139


As we continue in our reflection upon our being connected to God, through Christ, as branches to the vine (link to Sunday’s notes), so we read Psalm 139. The psalmist reminds us of God’s faithfulness and contrasts it with human natural inclination towards infidelity. Wherever we go, whatever we do, however we behave, we cannot separate ourselves from God or hide from God’s presence (Psalm 139:7-12). From the heights of heaven to the depths of hell, and in all human experiences between the two, God is present. We cannot be outside of God’s presence, because there is no place where God is not present.

In today’s passage from John’s Gospel we read that Jesus tells his disciples that soon he will be going away. They become anxious about where he is going and want to follow him. Jesus tells them that he is going ahead of them in order to prepare the place, in order to make his father’s house ready. In his father’s house there will be room for all. When Jesus has spoken about his father’s house previously, he had been speaking about the temple. The people of Israel understood the temple to be the place where heaven and earth met, the place where God’s presence was fully made known. Now Jesus is talking to his disciples and expanding their understanding and challenging their expectations. He is talking about a new temple, a new house, a new city, a new world. Heaven and earth will come together again when God renews the whole world. Then there will be room for all people. And he tells the disciples that they know the way to that place.

Thomas says to him that, as they do not know where Jesus is going, they cannot be expected to know how to get there. Jesus replies with the familiar words, “I am the way…”.

The disciples’ knowledge of Jesus as the way and their awareness of all he has taught and shown them is all they need to make their way forward. Then comes the challenge, Jesus adds that not only should the disciples know that he is the way, they should also know that he is the only way to reach the place where heaven and earth are truly renewed.

Jesus tells the disciples that, in his father’s house, there is a place for all people and then he tells them that he is the only means to get there. In an age and culture where alternative ways are accepted, inclusivity celebrated, and truth is variable, such a strong statement of Jesus being the only and exclusive way sits uncomfortably. The Church needs to recover its missionary nerve without tipping over into arrogance. There may well be other ways, but Jesus is the way.

To Ponder

  • What image do you have of heaven as a place?
  • How do we communicate Jesus as being "the way” for the twenty-first century, with its need to be inclusive and to avoid extremism?
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