The Fourth Sunday After Easter – 10th May 2020

John 14: 1-14

“Jesus the Way to the Father”

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’

Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.

Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

From The New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission.

The New Testament Gospel reading for this morning asks of us how should we follow in faith?

It is set within the context of fear and confusion for the disciples. They have many questions.  

John tells us in his gospel that Jesus has just washed the disciple’s feet, that he is troubled and tells the disciples that he is going to be betrayed.  Jesus tells them as well that he is going to be glorified and will be with them only a little longer. That where he is going they cannot come and they should love one another, just as he has loved them.  It is therefore no wonder that the disciples are in a highly energised concerned state and are full of human fears and questions about what’s happening. So Jesus speaks to bring comfort to his disciples and understanding and hope to their lives, even at this most difficult of times.  About how they must continue to follow him in faith and stay close to him.

And in a very few words Jesus seeks to resolve and calm their fears, restore their confidence and build a serene picture of the life to come.

He speaks about security; the security of God the Father’s house, of its many rooms and how these rooms are prepared for them. That he, Jesus, is a trusted guide and that with him they will not be left alone to find their way.

As Jesus seeks to reassure the disciples he uses the word “and” and it is important. He says

And you know the way to the place where I am going”

Jesus also links knowing him, consequentially, to knowing God the Father,

“…..If you know me, you will know my Father also. …..”

 Jesus is saying to the disciples that they already know about him and God the Father, and where he is going, and that he is not telling them something new. They have been his disciples, learning at his feet for three years now.

Thomas then makes the assertion and asks the classic question for which he is knownLord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

And in response Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”  In saying, “I am the way” Jesus is calling the disciples to continue to learn from him, to follow him, to be his students.

This is the way it was in first century Judaism, as a disciple or student you followed your teacher, your master, your rabbi. In the rabbinic writings of the Mishna, one of the purposes of following your teacher was that “you would be covered in the dust of your Rabbi.” 

Rabbis taught as they walked around, and their students, their disciples, followed them. As the rabbis walked and talked they would kick up the dust as they made their points. By the end of a day, their disciples would be covered with the dust of their rabbis.

To follow Jesus, even in the most difficult of circumstances, is to cover the ground that he covered; and it means to cover ourselves in the dust of his life. Staying close to Jesus puts us on the way that he is going.  That way is the journey of both life and faith.

All journeys have a destination and that is where Jesus leads us to next. 

Jesus at first declares: I am the way, and the truth, and the life.

And then he says: No one comes to the Father, except through me.

As these two statements are joined together we have,

“No one comes to the Father, except through the way, the truth, and the life.”

In all of these things, we are to follow Jesus the way, and we are not to become too preoccupied with the destination. We acknowledge and come to the Father through the Son. 

We remember the promise of Jesus who has said that he will come and take us to himself, so we can trust that we will not be abandoned and left on our own.

In following the way, his way, the way of Jesus, we live with the promise and truth that the life to come will be a way of truth and life – and so we are to give thanks and praise to God for that.

Best wishes in “the way” and week ahead.