Do You Know Him?
Text: John 14:1-14
5 Easter, A
It is the upper room on the night that Jesus is about to be betrayed. Jesus had just told His disciples that He was about to be glorified in His suffering, death and resurrection and that they would not be able to go where He was going, namely, His suffering and death. In a few short sentences He has undone nearly everything they thought they knew about Him. Pulled the rug right out from under them. And He does it to prepare them, because what is coming will be some of the most terrible and terrifying days they will ever face. He tells them not to be shaken but to love one another as He had loved them. The calmness of Jesus in chapters 14-17 is truly remarkable. He knew precisely what was about to happen. But still He shielded His disciples. His words are like placid waters for those whose hearts are churning and seething with the bombshell just dropped.
They are words that are equally good for us to hear again. For just like those disciples, the further away from Easter Sunday we get the less and less we seem to know about the certainties proclaimed there. Christ may be risen, but the Paschal Candle is burning low, the lilies have faded and gone. The triumphant Easter cries of Life and Resurrection begin to sound hollow in the face of the daily grind, the nightly news, and the sickness, sorrow, grieving, and death we see around us and even at times within us. Easter morning we thought we knew this triumphant Jesus as we sang the great refrains of “I Know that My Redeemer Lives” but now so many weeks on and heartaches in … Do you know Him and His Comfort? Hear, again, His words:
1[Jesus said:] “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. 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, that where I am you may be also. 4And you know the way to where I am going.” Belief and trust in this man Jesus is belief and trust in God. That is the only cure for all our worry and trouble. The disciples are reeling from the thought of being separated from Jesus, they are fearful of facing the ongoing backlash of the world, they are troubled as they grow to realize that deliverance is not what they were expecting. Jesus doesn't promise to take any of that away. Instead He simply offers Himself and the promise that “where I am” they will be also.
This has even more force when you look to the places that Jesus will be in the coming hours (in the garden and in the trials and at the cross and tomb) Yet here is heart of Jesus' promise to them and to us … if we are with Jesus then even these places are better than being anywhere else without Him. Our lives here may be drastically changed, there may be long and dark paths to tread, but there is a glorious and permanent place already waiting. First comes the cross and the tomb, but then Heaven itself is opened before us ... a home, a haven, a refuge. The ultimate place of rest and peace and joy and family. To know Christ is to know this overwhelming joy … our place is with Him, no matter what yet may come!
But we are not done yet. Not by a long shot! Do you know Him as your Lord and God?
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. And here we can thank Thomas for proving the point so marvelously. Natural man is blind to spiritual saving truth. He is dead in his trespasses and sin. Natural man is a pitiful, miserable, helpless creature. We just don't get it, so how could we possibly do it? In the light of all Jesus has said, all He has done, the disciples are still clueless. This rules out all works, worthiness and endeavors of natural man. We cannot approach the Father except through Christ. It is a matter of faith, not reason; it is a matter of what Christ has done and is doing, not what a person can do. He is everything.
And that is why Jesus doesn't say that “I will show you the way” like a second Moses, He IS the way. He doesn't say “I have the truth” like another Elijah, He IS the Truth. He doesn't say “I lead into life” as one of His disciples, He IS the Life. Take Jesus away and there is no way to the Father. Take away Jesus and there is no saving truth. Take away Jesus and there is no spiritual life. Our deliverance is through Him, and no one (and nothing) else!
7If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? 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 authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
Have they have known Jesus? Of course they have. Knowledge of Jesus leads to knowledge of the Father. Jesus revealed the Father by revealing Himself. But that's not what Philip wants is it? Demonstrating that Thomas isn't alone, He says: "I'll be satisfied if you'll DEMONSTRATE the Father to us." As if He hadn't been doing that all along. Who here hasn't thought that Jesus was great but not all that we need. Jesus AND an answer. Jesus AND a healing. Jesus AND a sign just for me. Jesus AND … But Jesus and the Father are two persons in one essence. Jesus and the Father do not work apart from each other. They have identity of essence, utterances and works.
Jesus is basically saying: "If you have difficulty believing my words, my teaching and my actions, if after all that you cannot believe that I am true God with the Father, then look at all my many miracles. They prove that I am in the Father and that the Father is in Me." Even the blind man of Chapter 9 was able to see this. We do not need Jesus AND anything else, for to know Him is to know God the Father Himself.
And so, finally, Do you know Him as the One who empowers you for service? 12“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. This radical promise includes all believers in Christ Jesus. The most humble Christian is promised that he or she will perform works greater than Jesus performed. But can that really be? Yes! Not because our works are miraculous but because there is no end to the work we may do while here on earth. We have the opportunity to shower the whole world and every living human within it with the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour. We are given the privilege to pray for every member of the human race and bring their needs and concerns before the throne of God and Jesus the great High Priest. We are not greater than He is but He has given us the greater privilege. We can bring all things, and all people, to Him in Prayer. And we gladly do so, because to know Christ is to know His promise to answer prayer as only He can!
And that answer is not always that we will live in a nice place, or have a comfortable life. It is not that the joyous refrains will go on uninterrupted in this life. There will be dark nights of the soul. There will be trials and betrayals. There will be crosses to bear and pain to suffer through. And yes, even death. But always wand in it all know this … there will be Jesus with you all the way. It is not about being in a good place in life, but about living with our Good Shepherd. The only answer to troubled hearts and broken lives is to know Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.