Summary: Jesus offers us a wonderful promise that he will come to us and make his home with us. In his home we are blessed with physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and wholeness.
Sermon for 6th Sunday of Easter, Year C
Based on Jn. 14:23 & 27
By Pastor Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
Home…. What is a home? For some, it’s a place of sorrow, insecurity, hurt, pain and abuse. For others, it’s a place of joy, security, comfort and love. The Gospel of John often has a strange way of speaking, which is foreign to the other three Gospels. In today’s gospel, Jesus speaks of a home; a different kind of home than most people would think of.
He tells his disciples and all would-be followers of his that: “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” These words give all faithful followers of Jesus a wonderful promise. This special home that Jesus is referring to here, provides us with everything we need in life—everything necessary to live our lives abundantly, to fulfill God’s will and purpose.
The culture of Palestine during this period of history placed a great deal of importance on the home and hospitality. The home was a place of nurture, rest retreat, growth and fellowship. People were given adequate food and drink for their survival and physical health. They were given a bed on which to rest after a day’s work. They were given a place to retreat from the world with all of its endless problems and demands. They were given a place for the opportunities of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual growth and fellowship. The home was not only a centre for the basic family unit; it was also the centre of hospitality for banquets, study, higher learning and worship. The home, in addition to all of this, was a place of protection and amnesty for foreign travelers, refugees, and outcasts.
Therefore, when Jesus, speaking about the Father and himself, said: “We will come to them and make our home with them,” he is making a very wonderful promise. He is promising—through the power of the resurrection—to be present with us; to live with us and provide for our needs; as we journey through this life. As we live in this world, he is dwelling with us; we are able to enjoy the close fellowship-communion with him in the same way that he enjoys close fellowship-communion with the Father.
In the midst of our limited, insecure world; Jesus is our source of true security. He gives us small portions of eternity right now, as we journey through this life. This happens whenever he gives us the physical as well as the spiritual food and drink to survive and enjoy good health (wholeness). He gives us rest when we are weary of life so that we can experience the freshness and newness of another day. He is our centre of retreat when the world’s pain, problems and demands are closing in on us. He provides us with countless opportunities for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual growth and renewal. In an often hostile, dangerous world, his hospitality is so wonderful and inviting—we are able to feast at his banquet, grow in his wisdom, knowledge, understanding; and we are given the privilege of worshipping him. In addition to all of this: Jesus provides protection and amnesty for foreign travellers, refugees, and outcasts—often working through us, his followers to accomplish this work. What a marvellous promise that Jesus and the Father have made their home with us!
Because God the Father and Jesus have made their home with us; we can hear and truly live by these words of Jesus in verse 27: “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” One of our worst enemies is fear. Fear incapacitates us and makes us helpless, apathetic, uncaring and unloving. We are afraid of ourselves—we are afraid to succeed; we are afraid to fail; we are afraid to get involved; we are afraid to love. We are afraid of others—especially if they belong to a different culture, race or religion. For example, the media so frequently stereotypes the Muslims as violent people; therefore we believe that all Muslims are violent people, not so! We are afraid of the world—there are so many changes, so many complex problems, we wonder what we can do to make a significant difference. Often we don’t want to think about the world—we’d rather build a fortress around it and place a “Keep Out” sign around our fortress. We are afraid of the unknown—who knows what the future holds; it cannot be predicted with clarity—we are uneasy living by faith; we’d far sooner live by sight. Perhaps most of all, we are afraid of God—we may believe God exists all right, as many polls indicate; but many of us don’t really want to get too close to God. If we get to know God real well, then we will have to live under God’s reign and love God. Many of us would rather be our own masters, run our own lives and love only ourselves. It is in this context, this situation, that God comes to us. God bids us to leave all of our fears and troubles with God. God wants to make a home within us and offer us a marvellous hospitality. A life of health, wholeness, peace and love.