Tuesday, 23 May 2017

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Established May 2009, Little Rock, AR

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Knowing and Going in The Way

May 14, 2017

KNOWING AND GOING IN THE WAY

May 14, 2017 (Fifth Sunday of Easter)

New Millennium Church, Little Rock, AR

 

John 14:1-14


14‘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.’

8 Philip 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.

Travellers to unknown places need directions.  We need to know how to reach our destinations.  We need to know where we are going and the most convenient ways to reach those places.  Travellers to unknown places need directions.

 

So when Thomas protested to Jesus that he did not know where Jesus was going, we can identify with Thomas.  When Thomas said that because he did not know where Jesus was going, he could not possibly know the way to go there, we can identify with Thomas.  We can identify with Thomas because travellers to unknown places need directions.  

 

And make no mistake, Jesus was talking with Thomas and the other disciples about going to what was, to them, an unknown place.  They had travelled throughout the Palestinian provinces of Galilee and Judea with Jesus.  They had walked along coastlines. They had been with him for meals, miracles, and messages.  They had been with Jesus in Nazareth, Capernaum, Jericho, Bethany, and Jerusalem.  Thomas and the other disciples knew their way around those places.

 

But Jesus was speaking about going “away” in a sense they had never imagined possible.  He spoke about going away from their entire understanding about life, community, and fellowship.  Jesus was talking about going “away” beyond mortality, “away” beyond their world of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.  Jesus was talking about going “away” in the same sense we speak of people passing “away.”

 

Jesus was speaking with Thomas and the other disciples about death, and “the way” beyond death.  For his part, Thomas refused to pretend to know anything about that.  Thomas didn’t try to act like he knew what Jesus was talking about when Jesus spoke of going away , let alone know “the way” to where Jesus was going.  

 

I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me. [John 14:6].   

 

By these words, Jesus declared that there is a world beyond death.  Jesus declared that there is a route we can travel to the world beyond death.  And in one of the numerous “I AM” statements found in John’s Gospels, Jesus told Thomas how to travel to that world.

 

I am the way.  Jesus declared himself to be God’s road and map to God.  

 

I am the truth.  Jesus declared himself to be God’s trustworthy message about God.

 

I am the life.  Jesus declared himself to be God’s answer to our questions about life beyond mortality.  

 

According to Jesus, our living is inextricably tied up with God’s death-proof life.  We cannot know God’s death-proof life without unity with God’s death-proof Jesus.  

 

According to Jesus, unity with God’s death-proof life involves unity with God’s death-proof Jesus.  That unity is what Jesus called “the way.”  

 

The “way” of Jesus is love for God and one another as God loves us.  

 

The “way” of Jesus involves living for God with death-proof faith.  

 

The “way” of Jesus calls us to be people of unconditional love, audacious hope, extravagant hospitality, sacrificial generosity, and ever-renewed joy.  

 

The “way” of Jesus treats death as a point along our journey to God, with God, and for God, not a destination in and of itself.  

 

We are on the “way” to “truth” because we are people of God’s “life.”   We are on the “way” to “life” because Jesus is  the “I AM” for God.  Jesus is our “life” in God.  Jesus is not only our forerunner to God.  Jesus shows us the “way” we live that reveals God’s death-proof truth and life.  

 

God’s “way” to God’s death-proof “truth” and God’s death-proof “life” has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ.    Through Jesus, God has laid out the “way” we can and must live in order to experience and demonstrate God’s “truth” about God’s “life.”  

 

God’s “way” is love, not self-centeredness.  Jesus shows us that God’s way is not based on or found in religious laws and regulations.  Through Jesus, we learn that God’s way is based on and found in loving fellowship with God and all others.  

 

God’s “truth” is community and justice, not competition and oppression.  God’s truth for our living is that we are part of one another.  God’s truth is that we are to live together in love, justice, and peace with God, love, justice, and peace together for God, and love, justice, and peace together in God.  We are not meant to be adversaries, but we are meant to be allies in love, allies in justice, allies in hope, and allies in peace with one another and with God.  

 

God’s “life” is oneness, not otherness or divisiveness.  We do not live apart from God.  We live in God. We live with God.  We live for God.  

 

We cannot be alive without God, without one another, and without the rest of creation.  Our “life” involves being one with God, one with God and Jesus, one with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and one with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and everyone else and everything else in creation.  We are part of all that is God, and all that is alive in God, and all that is loved by God, and all that God is determined to share with us in oneness.  

 

All this is what God revealed as “the way,” “the truth,” and “the life” in Jesus!  This is what the Prologue of John’s Gospel means when we read that “the ‘Word’” that “was with God” and “was God” … “became flesh and lived among us…”[John 1:1, 14].  

 

Love is “the way.” Community and justice is “the truth.”  Oneness is “the life.”  God has revealed this to us in Jesus.

 

Hmmm!  This should inspire us to re-think the way we live with one another and the rest of the creation.  

 

If love is the way, we cannot and will never walk in “the way” by practicing and supporting hatefulness.  

 

If community and justice is “the truth,” we cannot and do not live in truth by imposing oppressive hardships on our vulnerable sisters and brothers.  

 

If oneness with God, one another, and the rest of the creation is “the life,” we cannot experience that “life” by allowing the Earth and all that is in it to be poisoned by toxins.

 

We cannot walk in that “way,” live that “truth,” and experience that “life” by condoning perpetual warfare, embracing the politics and business practices of empire, and allowing those who wield power to run roughshod over those who are weak.  

 

Jesus was introducing Thomas and the other disciples to the true meaning of “eternal life.”  Jesus was teaching them that eternal life is more than life beyond mortality.  Eternal life involves perpetual life – now and forever – with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, one another, and the rest of creation in love, community and justice, and oneness!  

 

When Jesus spoke about “the Father’s house,” Jesus was talking about eternal life!  Eternal life has many aspects dimensions (rooms), but death is not a room in eternal life.  Death is not the end or the beginning of eternal life.  Death is but a portal through which all who have eternal life go as we travel along “the way of love,” live “the truth of community and justice,” and share oneness in God’s “life.”  

 

Death does not end our oneness with God’s love. Death does not end our oneness with one another and the creation in community and justice. Death does not end our oneness with God’s life!    

 

In Jesus, God has shown us that love is “the way.”  In Jesus, God has shown us that community and justice is “the truth.”  In Jesus, God has shown us that oneness with God is “the life.”  In Jesus, God has shown us that death cannot conquer love, community and justice, and our oneness in God, with God, and for the purposes of God.  

 

We have eternal life.  We have God’s promise and call to love.  We have eternal life.  We have God’s call to community and justice with God, one another, and the entire creation.  We have eternal life.  We have oneness with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, one another, and the rest of creation.  

 

We have eternal life.

 

Hallelujah!

 

©Wendell Griffen, 2017