Worship on 05/14/2017

Reverend Lindsey Williams

How Do We Get There From Here

John 14:1-14 

 

 

Gospel Lesson

 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2In 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?3And 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.

 

4And you know the way to the place where I am going.” 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” 9Jesus 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’? 10Do 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.11Believe 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.

 

12Very 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. 13I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

 

Interpretation of the Word

 

This week, and next we hear from John and what is considered the Farewell Discourse.  These are five chapters of John, where Jesus is preparing his disciples, his friends, for his departure.  This preparation begins in Chapter 13, with the narration of the foot washing, the last meal shared between Jesus and his disciples, and the departure of Judas to the dark side (13:30).  Chapter 14 then picks up with direct words from Jesus to his disciples about his impending departure. This section begins with words of comfort and hope, followed by promise and plain speech, and there is little mincing of words as to what’s soon to take place.

 

Jesus knows the time coming will be incredibly challenging for the disciples and so begins with words intended to bring comfort – “do not let your hearts be troubled” – but that seem to fall short of the mark.  The disciples’ hearts are troubled, very troubled.  They have so many questions, and so they ask their questions.  "What?" The disciples must have asked. "Do not let our hearts be troubled? Are you kidding us? You've just told us you're going to die. How can you sit there and tell us one of us is going to betray you and be ok?"

 

Questions, of course, are an essential ingredient of everyday conversation. They serve as invitations to dialogue and opportunities for further learning.   But have you ever noticed that we also ask questions when we are troubled?  That when we are struggling to make sense of things or feel overwhelmed by circumstances, we often turn to questions: Why is this happening? Who is doing this? Why did she or he die so young? How did this happen? Why don’t you love me anymore? What is going on?  How do we stop this? How can we fix this?  Is there another way? Why didn’t they catch the cancer sooner?

 

We want answers, we want to understand, and especially when what has us troubled makes no sense to us.

 

The disciples are no different.  They want answers for things they do not understand.  When Jesus says, “you know the way to the place where I am going,” Thomas replies rather bluntly and matter-of-factly, “Lord, we do not even know where you are going, how can we know the way?”  To which Jesus answers, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me,” and anyone who knows Jesus will know the Father too.  To which Philip, who has also reached the limit of parable, responds, “Lord, just show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”

 

These poor disciples, all they want are some answers; all they want is an idea of what is going on.  What do they get instead, Jesus speaking in riddle.  They would like for Jesus to put it in plain Greek.  Tell us what you really mean!  Never mind don’t tell us! SHOW US.  Seeing is believing. 

 

Don’t we say the same thing sometimes, when we have reached the limit?  Just show us the reason behind all of this, and then we will be satisfied, then the enduring will be easier to stomach.  Just show us the point of all this.  We understand the disciples’ point of view here, for anyone who has ever be troubled, for whatever reason, we understand the questioning and troubled hearts of the disciples and their questioning hearts. 

 

To their questioning hearts, Jesus does not give a clear answer, but instead offers himself as the answer.  Jesus doesn’t answer their whys, instead he offers himself.  He offers the relationship that he as with each one of them as the answer.  John Calvin puts it this way, “Jesus lays down three degrees, as if he said, that he is the beginning, and the middle and the end; and hence it follows that we ought to begin with him, to continue in him, and to end in him.  We certainly ought not to seek for higher wisdom that that which leads us to eternal live, and Jesus testifies that this life is to be found in him.”  This eternal life is found in relationship with Jesus.  They have walked with him, they have talked with him, and they have witnessed firsthand the hand of God at work.  Jesus is telling the disciples throughout time that he will not fail us in any respect; instead he stretches out his hand to those who are going astray, and reaches out to lift up even the tiniest of babes.  This loving, caring relationship to which Jesus is referring is the same relationship that Jesus spoke of in last week’s text of the Good Shepherd.  The relationship that the sheep have with their shepherd who leads them and protects them, and watches over them day and night.  Someone who will lead them home.

 

Jesus talks about that home, his Father’s house, in heaven, and that there is plenty of space there.  Jesus tells the disciples that he is going on ahead to prepare a place, and that if he leaves then he will also return.  We are likely to trust in this promise of Jesus if we have a relationship with him.  What good is a promise, if we don’t have a relationship the person making the promise?  They are just words then aren’t they?  Just as answers to questions are just words, they may or may not have truth behind them, if we don’t have relationship with the person speaking those words.  

 

Jesus has a relationship with these disciples whom he sits around the table with, teaching them one last time, before he heads out to the garden to pray.  It is this relationship that Jesus is calling the disciples to remember and to hold on to, because sometimes when we want answers, what we really need is relationship. 

 

What would free the human hearts from being troubled?  The world has a multitude of answers.  Jesus has only one: Believe in God, believe also in me (v.1).  John speaks of believing almost exclusively not as something to which one assents inwardly, but as an outward and active commitment to a person, the person being Jesus.

 

The heart that is troubled is a heart no hung upon God but hung rather on all things the world peddles to sooth a troubled heart.  Jesus tells his disciples in their time of uncertainty, hang your hearts on God; hang your hearts on me.

June 28, 2017
SUNDAY WORSHIP

 

Worship Service 11:00AM

Adult Bible Study   9:45AM

Children's Class  11:00AM 

   

SERMON ON SUNDAY: July 2, 2017  "Welcome"

 

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