Tag Archive | John 14:1-14

And Jesus Said, “I Tell You The Truth”

(John 14:1-14)

Every time Jesus wanted us to listen to what He had to say, He would say

truly I tell you“

or

verily I say unto you“

or

I tell you the truth”

All of Jesus’ parables use one of these phrases, as well as many of His teachings. He wants us to ‘get it’ – that what He was saying is important to us and to our salvation.

And Jesus performed all kinds of marvelous deeds: changing water into wine, healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, raising the dead, making the lame walk again, driving out demons, feeding 5000 people with five loaves and two fishes, restoring the ear of the servant that Peter cut off, -things that we don’t see every day – things that people found hard to or couldn’t believe. But Bible tells us that these miracles are true -that Jesus did these things – and reminds us that He also said “I tell you the truth”.

In this day and age, we have a hard time finding someone who will tell us the truth. Events are sensationalized, we hear lots of ‘fake news’ or ‘alternative facts’, and some people just outright lie and expect us to believe them. It is very hard or almost impossible to know what is true anymore.

But there is one person who we can always believe – who speaks the truth to us, no matter what – and that is Jesus. “I tell you the truth” was, in fact, the essence of Jesus’ mission and ministry.

I tell you the truth,” Jesus says in today’s text,

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.” (John 14:1)

He said this to the disciples on the last night He shared a meal with them – the time we call ‘The Last Supper’. Can you think of anything more reassuring? More hopeful? More promising?

In spite of the betrayal by Judas and denial three times by Peter that would come in that evening, and the trial Jesus would be facing, he reassured this band of followers, saying

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.” (John 14:1)

And He says the same thing to us!

We, like those disciples, have our doubts, weak resolve and often wander off the correct path. Jesus told the truth about the cruelty of people to others, the hatred that tears us apart, the shortcomings that bind us together more than any ties of nationalities, ethnicity, or politics ever could. But once again, Jesus reassures us:

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?” (John 14:2)

Jesus’ “I tell you the truth“ revealed more about God, about that love and forgiveness that is offered to us; the ‘truth’ about God’s plan for salvation for each and every one of us. When Jesus told the ‘truth’ about God, it was never quite what we expected.

For those convinced they were righteous and blessed by their piety and goodness, Jesus warned,

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full” (Matthew 6:5).

For those who put their faith in human efforts, in the power of the sword and political might, Jesus announced before the great Temple Herod had completed,

“I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another, everyone will be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2).

For those proud of their rigid oppressive religion, Jesus reminded them that there would be no grown-ups in heaven:

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

For those who said God could only work in certain ways and through certain people, Jesus told the ‘truth’ about a God who could work

wherever,

whenever,

and with whomever

God wants us!

Each and every one of us!

No matter what!

Jesus came to tell the ‘truth’, and this truth both surprises and sets us free – free for God to take us to places that we’ve never been before and couldn’t get to without God.

All we have to do is follow the teachings of Jesus.

Praise be to God!

 

Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH; 14 May 2017

 

 

 

Making Our Way To God

John 14:1-14

Who Is God? What Is God?

How can we know the way to God? How can we see God? These questions return again and again during the course of the lifetime of a Christian – regardless of one’s faith and training.

The answer Jesus gives to us is very simple, yet so often hard for us to grasp.

We need to step back to the evening of the last supper. The disciples were gathered and Jesus was trying to make them understand the events that were about to transpire. And the disciples just couldn’t wrap their minds around its enormity. As they protested and questioned and scratched their heads, Jesus celebrated the Passover meal and washed their feet. But they were still troubled. It looked like they were about to become leaderless and they don’t know what to do or where to go.

Jesus responded to their fears with one of the most reassuring pieces of scripture:

    “Let not your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1)

I can imagine that Jesus said this with deep sadness, eyes brimming with tears and his voice choked with emotion. He knew what was going to happen. Things were falling apart and he would soon face his ordeal in the Garden of Gethsemane and his crucifixion.

Yet he told the disciples not to be troubled. Why?

Because he was preparing ‘a place for them in heaven. ‘

That was huge news to the disciples!

But that wasn’t enough for them. They kept questioning, again and again asking how and why and where.

Jesus must have finally realized that the disciples did not have the knowledge he thought they had. When they continued to question, He chastised them for their non-belief and lack of understanding. Hadn’t he been teaching them and telling them of things to come since He first began his teaching? Weren’t they His chosen ones – and they STILL DID NOT GET IT!

All they had done was ask an innocent question:

    “Show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” (John 14:8)

Jesus chastised them again, asking them why, after all this time, they still did not know him. They were just slow to catch on. Yes, He was a little blunt but Chapters 14-17 of John’s Gospel are not called the ‘farewell discourse’ for nothing. He’s leaving and they need to know the Way. The time had grown short.

The hour was near. The clock had run out on subtleties.

From John 14:9 through John 16:29, Jesus does all the talking. The disciples fall silent. I wonder if they might have been wary of speaking up, after Jesus’ responses to their initial questions and requests. They ask two questions they should have already known the answer to:

    • How can we know the way to God?
    • How are we to see the Father?

And these are our question too. You and I may have been following Jesus for quite a while, but we still sometimes feel lost and without answers or understanding in the face of life’s trials and tribulations. We still ask the basic questions:

How should we live? Who is God and how can I know him?

Jesus’ response is simple:

    “I am the Way” (John 14:6)

Jesus used this brief, vivid, memorable saying to express who he is and who we are to become in relation to him.

“I am the Way” has its roots in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, especially the Book of Proverbs. Jesus offers a path of life and wisdom rather than a path of self-destruction and folly. Jesus’ “I am” sayings found in the Bible present many metaphors for His Life and teachings as it related to all of us:

    “I am the Bread of life” (John 6:35)

    “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12)

    <em?“I am the Gate for the Sheep” (John 10:7)

    “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11)

    “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25)

    “I am the True Vine” (John 15:1)

Jesus himself – Jesus the man – is a gift from the very heart of God, whose teachings guide us and whose Presence sustains and challenges us. We continue, throughout our lives, to ask and ask again the basic questions of “Am I on the right track in life?” and “How can I know God in my life?”

Again, the answer Jesus gives is both simple and profound:

    “I am the Way.” (John 14:6)

To believe in Jesus’ teachings and example, His sacrifice and love, His service and simplicity, His acceptance and forgiveness – this is the way to eternal life and happiness, peace on this earth.

We grow into the answer as we live out our lives. Every time we return to these basic questions, it is with deepened faith since the last time we asked them.

Sometimes, maybe we need Jesus to chide us—to tell us we are not making the progress in our faith that we could. Jesus’ chiding shapes our discipleship. He is reminding his disciples then and us now of what we have been taught over and over again, but continually forget when we come face-to-face with sorrow and adversity.

Jesus is saying to his disciples and us:

    Come on, now. You know this. I’ve taught you this. We’ve been through this before, you and I. Hold onto this promise. It won’t let you down now:

      “I am the Way.” (John 14:6)

In me you see God. In me you meet and will meet God. My teachings will guide you; my presence will sustain your spirit.

Jesus makes several promises that we can count on:

    “In my Father’s house are many dwelling places I go to 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” (John 14:3).
    “If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him” (John 14:7).
    “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works” (John 14:9-10).
    “The one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these” (John 14:12).

And once again he gives us reassurance. . . .

    “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:10).

Assurance His Father’s love . . . of His Love. . . For Jesus and the Father are one.

There is a legend that goes like this. Judas, after he had betrayed Jesus, found himself at the bottom of a deep abyss. He lay there for a couple of centuries and then slowly began to stir and sit up. Looking up, he saw a faint light at the surface, miles above. He began to climb. Sometimes he would slip and fall back and spend a century or so regaining lost ground. Sometimes he rested. But he kept climbing. As he climbed the light seemed to grow stronger, to glow more brightly. It seemed to energize him and to call to him. He kept climbing, his limbs gaining strength the closer he came to the light. After a couple of millennia, he reached the top, his hands and body scraped and fatigued from the climb. He struggled to find a place to rest his hands to hold up the weight of his body as he hauled himself up through the opening at the top of the abyss. When he did, his muscles shaking with the effort, he found himself in an Upper Room where a young rabbi was having supper with his friends. The young rabbi turned and greeted Judas, his face glowing with pleasure, “Judas, welcome home! We have been waiting for you. We could not continue the supper without you!”

Jesus is the way for those who dwell in an abyss of misery and futility. Jesus is the way for disciples going through the motions. Jesus is the way for new disciples who fear their questions are too basic.

How can we know the way to God?

How can we see God?

    “believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14:10)

So just keep on believing!

Let us pray:

The light of God surrounds us, the love of God enfolds us, The power of God protects us, The presence of God watches over us, Wherever we are, God is, And where God is, all is well. Amen.

 
Delivered at Saint Philip’s Episcopal Church, Circleville OH 22 May 2011

We’re Already On The Way . . .

John 14:1-14

May the words of my mouth and the way, the life and the truth be engraved upon our hearts.

We need to step back to the evening of the last supper. The disciples were gathered and Jesus was trying to make them understand the events that were about to transpire. And the disciples just couldn’t wrap their minds around its enormity. As they protested and questioned and scratched their heads, Jesus celebrated the Passover meal and washed their feet. But they were still troubled. It looked like they were about to become leaderless and they don’t know what to do or where to go. Jesus responded to their fears with one of the most reassuring pieces of scripture:

    Let not your hearts be troubled (John 14:1)

I can imagine that Jesus said this with deep sadness, eyes brimming with tears and his voice choked with emotion. He knew what was going to happen. Things were falling apart and he would soon face his ordeals in the Garden of Gethsemane.

But he told the disciples not to be troubled. Why?

Because he was preparing ‘a place for them in heaven. ‘

That was huge news to the disciples!

Think of the elation of most of them (except maybe Judas) to hear that. They were not going to be abandoned! This small phrase could be called a ‘Manual for Stress Management’. No matter how afraid or confused or bewildered we are, Jesus is there for us, He has made a place for us!

But Jesus did not provide a road map or a AAA Trip-Tik for the disciples. They did not know how to get there. Thomas actually asked for directions!!!! (Can you imagine that, ladies?!) If you remember from the sermon on Doubting Thomas a couple weeks ago, Thomas as a practical man, he wanted to make sure he knew where to go and how to get there.

But Jesus did not answer them. . . or at least not in a way they expected.

He said He was ‘the way’.

We have all heard the collection of verses concentrated into:

    I am the way, the truth, the life. (John 14:6)

Let’s look at each of these:

    I am the Way

Jesus teaches us that the only way to the Father is through Him, because Jesus and the Father are one, by knowing Jesus we also know God. If we follow Jesus, we will find a place in the one of the many mansions in heaven that He has gone to prepare for us.

    I am the Truth

Jesus is the universal truth – he was the truth then and is the truth now. Things in the world may fade away and perish, but Jesus is constant –then, today and tomorrow. Jesus is that truth that will set us free – free from the bonds of sin. People who suffer because of their sins will be free if they believe in Jesus.

    I am the Life

All of us believe that our own lives are precious. The world contains millions of sick people who want to be healed of their dis-ease. Jesus is life because he is source of life conquering death. As noted in John 1:4

    In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.

And again in John 5:24:

    I tell you the truth, whoever hears my words and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned.

But just like the disciples, we often forget or doubt He is way’. Certainly for the disciples, the sense of faith and trust in Jesus would only become real after He left them. But Jesus left them and us with those words ‘way, life, truth’ to cling to. As long as we remember these we are transformed.

But this transformation is more than just believing – it is also about doing. As our faith grows, so does the way we live, the things we do, and the way in which we do them. Our lives are changed, even in the most mundane tasks of our daily life.

As Saint Teresa of Avila said:

    “Christ dwells among the pots and pans.”

Some of us spend far too much time trying to become something we are not instead of just being who we really are. In some circles, Christian people get together and one man talks about what Jesus said to him at breakfast that day just as he was eating his bagel; and a woman talks about what God had done for her yesterday afternoon at about 2:23 right there in the shopping mall; and still another man gushes about how the Spirit had gifted him in so mighty a way that right after he visited old Harold in the hospital, why the very next day Harold was healed.

But, the goal here is to foster a greater awareness of how God in Christ is already at work in you and how, by becoming more aware of that, you can become more intentional in following Jesus along the way which you are already traveling with him.

Our destination is glory in the place Jesus has prepared for us. That is a promise which soothes us, calms us, settles our otherwise troubled hearts. Meanwhile, however, we have the journey to undertake. As we lose ourselves in Jesus and in being his disciples, we find even our ordinary day-to-day activities infused with deep meaning. Because if sacredness happens to us at all, it happens among the pots and pans of the everyday and not just on Sundays when we feel particularly jolted by worship or on Wednesday when we volunteer for some service project.

So:

Our goal is to perform our work, to lead our families, and raise our kids, take time out for leisure and worship our God in ways so shot-through with Christ that we won’t worry whether our lives look exactly how we imagine heavenly life in mansions will look. Instead, we should savor the journey, highlight and celebrate what we see and experience along the way whether or not all of it seems exciting and spiritually significant.

Somebody has to be a Christian in life’s many and varied situations. According to Jesus that “somebody” is everybody as we all take the sacred journey with Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life — your life and my life every day and along every way.

Amen.

 
Delivered at Church of the Good Shepherd, Athens, OH, 20 March 2008