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Resurrection Third Sunday

Season of Resurrection

Third Sunday: John 14:1-14
JESUS THE WAY TO THE FATHER

INTRODUCTION

At the end of the Last Supper, Jesus comforted his apostles, saying 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, so they be with him. Like students to a master, the apostles Thomas and Philip raised doubts on his discourse. Jesus revealed to Thomas that he is the only way to the Father. To Philip, Jesus clarified that he and his Father are one. His words and works are of the Father. Jesus requested the disciples’ faith in him so they could continue greater works with God’s power. Jesus assured them of his backing on whatever they ask for their mission.

BIBLE TEXT

The Last Supper Discourses

(John 14:1) “Do not let your hearts be troubled; trust in God and trust also in me. (2) In my Father’s house there are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? (3) And as I go now to prepare a place for you, I shall come again and take you to myself, that where I am, you also may be. (4) You know the way to where I am going.” (5) Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” (6) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me. (7) If you knew me, you would know the Father also; indeed from now on you know him and you have seen him.” (8) Philip asked him, “Lord, show us the Father and that is enough for us.” (9) Jesus said to him, “What! I have 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’? (10) Father who dwells in me is doing his work. (11) Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; at least believe it on the evidence of these works that I do. (12) Truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will do the same works that I do; he will do even greater works than these, for I am going to the Father. (13) And everything you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (14) If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.

INTERPRETATION

(John 14:1) “Do not let your hearts be troubled; trust in God and trust also in me.

Do not let your hearts be troubled.
This is a part of Jesus’ conversation at the end of his Last Supper. Three thoughts were bothering the disciples, making the scene gloomy:
1. Jesus predicting Judas’ betrayal of him.
2. The prediction that Peter would deny Jesus three times.
3. The farewell of Jesus with a horrific end of his earthly life.

Trust in God and trust also in me.
Jesus gave a remedy for the troubles that bothered his disciples. That was faith in God and in Jesus. They had to trust in his promises and keep his commandment 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 rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

In my Father’s house
Unlike the houses in this world, the Father’s residence is heaven. St. Paul specifies this in 2 Corinthians 5:1, “We know that when our earthly dwelling, our body here on earth, is destroyed, we may count on a building from God, a heavenly dwelling not built by human hands that lasts forever.” In Philippians 1:23 St. Paul wrote, “I desire greatly to leave this life and to be with Christ, which will be far better.”

There are many rooms.
The many stands for the abundance of space available in heaven for those who inherit it. This contrasts with the lack of accommodation during the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem or shortage of space in Jerusalem during the Passover week.

(3) And as I go now to prepare a place for you, I shall come again and take you to myself, that where I am, you also may be.

I go now to prepare a place for you.
Jesus established a new covenant with his apostles at the Last Supper. It was like Jewish betrothal. Jesus the groom had betrothed to 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 Isaac’s wedding, Abraham’s servant “took the gold and silver jewelry as well as the clothes and gave them to Rebekah. He also gave costly gifts 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 Jesus paid was his self-sacrifice as a ransom for his followers’ redemption (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45).

Once the couple make an engagement, the groom would leave to his father’s house and prepare a room for the couple. Then at an unexpected day, the groom would return to receive the bride who would be eagerly waiting for his arrival for the marital union. Likewise, Jesus was bidding farewell to his beloved church, promising that he would prepare a place for them in the Father’s mansion for their full union with him.

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

Take you to myself
Jesus promised a full union 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). Instead of sitting at the right hand of his Father, Stephen saw Jesus standing as if he was welcoming Stephen to heaven. That gave the church’s first martyr the strength to face his martyrdom. While the Jews stoned him, Stephen called out “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” (Acts 7:59). A loyal disciple of Jesus can say the same at the end of his death because it is Jesus’ promise.

Where I am, you also may be.
Though Jesus said farewell to his disciples, he assured them they would unite and dwell together with him. On the next day, Jesus promised to the repentant thief on the cross 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) You know the way to where I am going.

Jesus is the way to the Father to whom he was going. According to Jesus, he is the only way to the Father. His way is through a narrow gate (Matthew 7:13) of passion, death, and resurrection. Though Jesus had taught these before, the apostles were unsure of what Jesus meant even when Jesus was close to his crucifixion.

(5) Thomas said to him, “Lord, 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 Jews and Jesus’ disciples were expecting a Messiah who would conquer and rule this world on the throne 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, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.”

I am the way.
Jesus clarified to the question of Thomas, 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 crossing River Jordan. Jesus is the new Joshua who leads us to the lost paradise, and the new promised land through his baptism that stands for Jordan river. The cross of Jesus is the bridge that Jesus established to connect the earth with the heaven. Jesus exhorted us, “If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 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 a 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. He created everything with his Word, Jesus. That Word took human flesh, and thus Jesus came as God and man. God rescues the fallen humanity through his Son Jesus. He, who took part in the creation, gives us everlasting life. Through his resurrection, Jesus assured our resurrection from death.

“The doubting Thomas” contributed for Jesus’ revelation 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 knew me, you would know the Father also; indeed from now on you know him and you have seen him.”

Because there is only one God with three persons, only by a truthful knowledge of Jesus can one know God the Father. Since their unity is indivisible, the knowledge of one is the knowledge of the other. Since the apostles had seen Jesus and knew his teachings, they had seen and came to know God the Father.

(8) Philip asked him, “Lord, show us the Father and that is enough for us.”

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

(9) Jesus said to him, “What! I have 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?’”

What! I have been with you so long.
The apostles had left everything and followed Jesus. They have been with him throughout his public ministry. Though they had been accompanying Jesus, saw all the glorious signs he performed, and listened to his messages, they did not fully comprehend him. This saddened Jesus.

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

Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
Humans cannot fully understand 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, God who had seemed to be distant, unseen, and spiritual during the Old Testament times has turned out to be close, visible, and physical in Jesus. Therefore, seeing Jesus is seeing the Most Holy Trinity. Philip lacked that understanding. So Jesus cleared it in this context.

(10) Father who dwells in me is doing his work.

Jesus revealed to Philip and others 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 whom God created the universe and everything in it. The Father was manifest in the Son when he became incarnate. Thus, Jesus identified himself with the Father. The Jews wanted to crucify Jesus because they could not accept this truth that Jesus revealed.

(11) Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; at least believe it on the evidence of these works that I do.

Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.
Jesus beseeched the faith of his apostles, who would be the pillars of his church. Even if everybody else did not believe Jesus as the Messiah and his union with the Father, at least the church leaders should have a conviction of the truth about him.

At least believe it on the evidence of these works that I do.
If the apostles had difficulty in believing the words of Jesus that he and the Father are one, Jesus asked them to believe in the glorious and compassionate works he did for which they were witnesses. Jesus did the miracles invoking the blessings from the Father. So the miracles had the involvement of both.

(12) Truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will do the same works that I do; he will do even greater works than these, for 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 is one with the Father.

He who believes in me will do the same works that I do.
The disciple becomes one with Jesus through faith. In John 14:23 Jesus says, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word and my Father will love him; and we will come to him and make our home with him.” Thus, Christian disciple has the privilege of union with Jesus and his Father and can work as Jesus did.

And will do greater ones than these.
Jesus shared his power to perform miracles with his apostles and other disciples during and after his public ministry. After selecting his 12 apostles, Jesus sent them to preach only to the Jews. He gave them the power to “heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons.” (Matthew 10:8). When the apostles returned, they explained to him their success in doing so (Luke 9:10). Jesus assigned 72 disciples who went ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he planned to visit (Luke 10:1). They returned rejoicing and said, “Lord, even the demons obeyed us when we called upon 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 more miracles than they did before or even greater than what Jesus did. The Acts of the Apostles gives accounts of many miracles Peter, Paul, Stephen, Barnabas, Silas, and others performed. Some miracles differed from what Jesus did, like healing from the shadow of Peter (Acts 5:15-16). “God did extraordinary deeds of power through the hands of Paul. Even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were laid upon the sick and their illnesses were cured, and evil spirits also departed from them.” (Acts 19:11-12). When we take the miracles and the wonderful achievements of the church throughout the centuries, we notice the marvelous service and growth of Christ’s disciples in the world. The force behind all these is Jesus, 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 accomplishing his mission on earth. However, the disciples must continue his mission according to his succession plan.

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

Everything you ask in my name
The name stands for a person. Jesus assigned the apostles and other disciples as his representatives to continue his mission. So, when they ask anything on Jesus’ behalf, he will do. Many Christian prayers end by saying, “in the name of Jesus, the Lord.” The prayers in Jesus’ name should have the spirit of his prayer at the garden of Gethsemane: “not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39).

So that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
Whatever Jesus did was with the power of God and with His consensus. The Father allows the disciples to accomplish in Jesus’ name all the signs, miracles, and spiritual achievements to glorify Jesus.

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

This verse is repeating the promise Jesus made in the previous verse. That was to give assurance to his disciples that he will assist them when they continue his mission by providing anything that they ask on his behalf.

MESSAGE

1. When we are in trouble, our comfort shall be our faith in Jesus and through him in God the Father. Jesus has promised us his kingdom in heaven, where he will reward us 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, we should aim at making use of our resources here to accrue 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, workplaces, and communities.

4. Jesus revealed to the apostles he is the only way to the Father. Let us remain in this hard path without deviation. We must gladly take up the hardships in our service for God and his people.

5. Just as Jesus represented his Father, let us stand for 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 His Kingdom with the confidence in Jesus’ words.