Resurrection Third Sunday

Jesus, the Way to the Father (John 14:1-14)

INTRODUCTION

At the end of the Last Supper, Jesus comforted his apostles stating that his physical departure from them was to prepare an eternal dwelling place for them. He promised that he would return to take them to his Father’s place to be with him. Like students to a master, Thomas and Philip raised doubts on his discourse. Jesus revealed to Thomas that he is the only way to the Father. And to Philip, Jesus clarified that he and his Father are one. His words and works are of the Father. Jesus requested their faith in him so that they could continue grater works with the power of God. Jesus assured them of his assistance on whatever they ask for their mission.

BIBLE TEXT

Last Supper Discourses.
(1) “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. (2) In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. (4) Where I am going you know the way.” (5) Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” (6) Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (7) If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (8) Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” (9) Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (10) Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. (11) Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. (12) Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. (13) And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (14) If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.

INTERPRETATION

(1) “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.

Do not let your hearts be troubled.
This is a part of the conversation of Jesus by the end of his last supper. Three thoughts were bothering the disciples making the scene gloomy:
1. The prediction of the betrayal of Judas.
2. The prediction that Peter would deny Jesus three times.
3. The farewell of Jesus with a terrible end of worldly life.

You have faith in God; have faith also in me.
Jesus gave remedy for the troubles that bothered his disciples. That was, the faith in God and in Jesus. They had to trust in the promises of Jesus and keep his commandments of love. That was equivalent to their faith in God the Father because Jesus and his Father are one. Only God through Jesus could remedy the troubles in their lives amid all the challenges and persecutions they would face later.

(2) In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?

In my Father’s house
Unlike the houses in this world, the Father’s house is heaven. St. Paul specifies this in 2 Corinthians 5:1, “For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven. In Philippians 1:23 St. Paul wrote, “I long to depart this life and be with Christ, for that is far better.”

Many dwelling places.
The many stands for the abundance of space available in heaven for those who inherit it. This IS contrasted with the lack of accommodation during the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem or shortage of space in Jerusalem during Passover week.

(3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.

I go and prepare a place for you
Jesus had established a new covenant with his apostles at the last supper. It was like a wedding betrothal of the Jews. Jesus the groom had made the betrothal with his bride the church through the apostles who were the pillars of the church. According to the Jewish wedding custom, groom or his father had to pay a dowry (mohar) to the bride’s family. For example, before the wedding of Isaac, Abraham’s servant “brought out objects of silver and gold and clothing and presented them to Rebekah; he also gave costly presents to her brother and mother.” (Genesis 24:53). Jacob labored for Laban seven years each, to marry his daughters Leah and Rachel. (Genesis 29:15-30). The dowry that Jesus paid was the sacrifice of his life as ransom for the redemption of his followers. (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45). Once the engagement was made, the groom would depart to his father’s house and prepare a space there for the couple. Then at an unexpected day, the groom would come to receive the bride who would be eagerly waiting for the return of her husband for the marital union. Likewise, Jesus was bidding farewell to his dearly beloved church promising that he would prepare a place for them in the Father’s mansion for their full communion with him.

I will come back again
After preparing the dwelling in heaven, Jesus would return in glory to take the church to his dwelling place. However, the church should remain undefiled and faithful to her groom.

Take you to myself
Jesus promised a full communion of the church with him in heaven. Just before the martyrdom of St. Stephen, he had a vision of heaven. He saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. (Acts 7:55). Jesus was supposed to be sitting at the right hand of his Father. But Stephen saw Jesus standing as Jesus was welcoming him to his presence in heaven. That gave the first martyr of the church the strength to face stoning to death. While Jews stoned him, Stephen called out “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” (Acts 7:59). A true disciple of Jesus can confidently say the same at the end of his death because Jesus had promised this.

Where I am you also may be
Though Jesus was saying farewell to his disciples, he was assuring them that they would be uniting and dwelling together with him in the future. On the next day, Jesus promised to the repentant thief who was crucified with him, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43). Jesus often compared the Kingdom of God to a wedding banquet to illustrate this communion of him with the church and the joy of the heavenly kingdom.

(4) Where I am going you know the way.

Jesus is the way to the Father and to whom he was going. According to Jesus, the way to the Father was only through him. His way was the narrow gate (Mathew 7:13) of passion, death, and resurrection. Though Jesus had taught these before, the apostles were not sure of what Jesus meant even when Jesus was near his crucifixion.

(5) Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?”

Thomas was representing all the apostles in his question because he said, “we do not know.” They had only a vague idea but they could not understand the heavenly kingdom well. The disciples of Jesus as well as other Jews were expecting a Messiah who would conquer and rule this world on the seat of David forever. That expectation was fading. Only Jesus could clarify their doubt. Thomas was bold to raise the question for the group.

(6) Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”

I am the way
In answer to the enquiry of Thomas, Jesus made clear that he was the one and only way to the Father. During the Old Testament times, Joshua (Jesus in Greek) led the chosen people to the promised land through River Jordan. Jesus is the new Joshua who leads us to the new promised land of the lost paradise through his baptism that stands for Jordan river. The cross of Jesus is the bridge that Jesus established to connect the earth with heaven. Jesus exhorted us, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mathew 16:24)

I am the truth
The ultimate truth is God. Jesus is the truth because he is God. Humans have limitations to understand the truths of God and his creation. Scientists and philosophers share their findings, assumptions and views. Our lack of understanding and limitations of knowledge cause many misunderstanding and conflicts in the world. Jesus taught us the truth of God that we comprehend with our limited capacity. Love of God and love of humanity in action are the core teachings of Jesus for successful transition from this world to the eternal truth in heaven.

I am the life
God is the author of all universe and all living beings. God who created everything with his Word, let the Word become flesh and thus Jesus came as God and man. So, Jesus is life eternal who gives us everlasting life by rescuing us from the death that came because of the fall of first parents. Through his resurrection, Jesus assured our resurrection from death.

“The doubting Thomas” was instrumental in the revelation of Jesus’ statement that he is the way, the truth and the life. Another contribution of Thomas was his own statement when he saw the Risen Lord, “My Lord and My God.” (John 20:28). That was his profession of faith that Jesus the Lord was God himself.

(7) If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

God the Father could be known only by a truthful knowledge of Jesus because there is only one God and the three persons are united. Since their unity cannot be divided, the knowledge of one is the knowledge of the other as well. Since the apostles had seen Jesus and knew his teachings, they simultaneously had seen and came to know God the Father.

(8) Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”

Philip’s request to Jesus was higher that what Thomas asked. Philip wanted to see the glory or theophany of God as it happened on Mount Sinai to Moses and elders of Israel or like the Transfiguration event that only Peter, James and John had witnessed. However, many of the followers of Jesus had witnessed the miracles and other glorious work of God through Jesus including the raising of Lazarus from the tomb.

(9) Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Have I been with you for so long a time
The apostles have been with Jesus all the time because they had left everything and followed Jesus. Jesus was saddened by the fact that these apostles who had been closely following him, who had seen all the glorious signs he performed and listened to his messages had not fully comprehended him.

You still do not know me
People understood Jesus differently. Jewish authorities accused him of blasphemy because they thought his claim as Messiah was wrong. The public considered him differently. “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Mathew 16:14). Only Peter identified Jesus as “Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Mathew 16:16). So even the disciples had a hard time understanding the exact nature of Jesus as the Messiah because he was different from the popular concept of Messiah at that time.

Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
Humans cannot fully comprehend God because the Almighty is beyond material limitations. However, his Word became flesh and dwelt among us taking the form of a human being in Jesus. So, seeing Jesus is seeing the Most Holy Trinity. That understanding was lacking in Philip. So, Jesus cleared it in this context.

(10) Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.

Jesus revealed to Philip and other apostles that Jesus and Father are one. Whatever Jesus said and did were the words and actions also of the Father. Jesus is the Word of God through which God created the universe and everything in it. Father was manifest in the Son when he became incarnate. Thus, Jesus identified himself with the Father. Jews wanted to crucify Jesus because they could not accept this truth that Jesus revealed.

(11) Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.

Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me
Jesus earnestly requested the faith of his apostles who were going to be the pillars of his church. Even if everybody else did not believe Jesus as the Messiah and the unity of him with the Father, at least the leaders of the church should be convinced of the truth that was difficult for ordinary people to comprehend.

Or else, believe because of the works themselves.
If the apostles had difficulty in believing the words of Jesus that he and Father are one, Jesus asked them to believe in the glorious and compassionate works he did for which they were witnesses.

(12) Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.

Amen, amen
Repetition of the word “amen” or “truly” signified the authenticity of the truth compared to ordinary statements. Jesus was the only one who knew all the truth because he came down from heaven and he was one with the Father.

Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do
By faith in Jesus, the disciple becomes one with Jesus. Since whoever believes in Jesus also believes in the Father, the faithful disciple of Jesus would be able to do the same works of Jesus. In John 14:23 Jesus says, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” Thus, Christian disciple has the privilege to represent Jesus and his Father and they will work through the disciple.

And will do greater ones than these
Jesus shared his power to do miracles with his apostles and other disciples during and after his public ministry. After selecting his 12 apostles, Jesus sent them to preach to Jews alone. Along with that he gave them power to do miracles: “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons.” (Mathew 10:8). “When the apostles returned, they explained to him what they had done.” (Luke 9:10). Later Jesus appointed 72 disciples and “sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit.” (Luke 10:1). They returned rejoicing, and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” (Luke 10:17).

During his last discourse to the apostles, Jesus told them that even after his physical departure, they will continue to do greater miracles than they did before or even what Jesus did. The Acts of the Apostles written by Luke gives accounts of many miracles performed by Peter, Paul, Stephen, Barnabas, Silas and others. Some of them were miracles that even Jesus did not perform during his public ministry like healing from the shadow of Peter (Acts 5:15-16). “So extraordinary were the mighty deeds God accomplished at the hands of Paul that when face cloths or aprons that touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.” (Acts 19:11-12). When we take the miracles and wonderful achievements of the church throughout the centuries, we notice the marvelous growth and service of Christ’s disciples in the world. The force behind all these is none other than Jesus who is the head of the church. Peter (Acts 2:33) and Paul (2 Corinthians 10:17) acknowledged that the miracles they performed were not by them but by the power of God working through them.

Because I am going to the Father.
Jesus who came from the Father in heaven, was returning to heaven after successfully accomplishing his mission on earth. However, his mission had to be continued according to his succession plan through the disciples and with the works of the Holy Spirit. The disciples of Jesus have been his representatives on earth while Jesus was representing them and interceding them in heaven.

(13) And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

Whatever you ask in my name
Here, the point was whatever the disciples ask, “in my name.” The name represents a person. Apostles and other disciples were assigned as representatives of Jesus to continue his mission. So, when they ask anything on Jesus’ behalf, he will do. That is why many of the Christian prayers end by saying, “in the name of Jesus, the Lord.” The prayers in Jesus name should have the spirit of Jesus’ prayer at the garden of Gethsemane: “not as I will, but as you will.” (Mathew 26:39).

Father may be glorified in the Son.
Whatever Jesus did was with the power of God and with His consensus. All the signs, miracles and spiritual achievements the disciples accomplish in the name of Jesus are allowed by the Father to glorify Jesus.

(14) If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.

This verse is a repetition of the promise in verse 13. That was to give assurance from the part of Jesus to his disciples that he will assist them in the continuation of his mission by providing anything that they ask on his behalf.

MESSAGE

1. When we are troubled, our comfort shall be our faith in Jesus and through him in God the Father. Jesus has promised us a smooth passage to his kingdom where we will be rewarded for all the good things we do on his behalf in this life.

2. Our house in this world is temporary. Christ went to heaven, our destination, to prepare an everlasting dwelling for us. So, our goal should be making use of the resources here for the Kingdom of God that would convert to our spiritual investment in heaven.

3. Jesus promised that he will return to take us to himself and to be with him forever. With that hope, let us be faithful in our mission that Jesus has entrusted to us in our families, work places, and community.

4. Jesus clarified to the apostles that he is the only way to the Father. Let us not be deviant from this way that can be a narrow one. Let us voluntarily take up the necessary hardships in our service for God and his people.

5. Just as Jesus represented his Father, let us represent Jesus in our lives. We are the present hands, feet, and tongue of Jesus to communicate his message of mercy and love in our words and actions.

6. Jesus has assured his support for whatever we ask in his name for the glory of God. Let us give importance to the will of God and work for the kingdom of God with the confidence in the words of Jesus.