Summary: April 28, 2002 - FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER John 14:1-14 Color: White John 14:1-14 Title: “Jesus sums up his teaching.”
April 28, 2002 - FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
Title: “Jesus sums up his teaching.”
Jesus begins his farewell address to his disciples and to the world.
Chapter fourteen, begins Jesus’ long “farewell” discourse found only in John, spanning chapters fourteen to seventeen. Jesus begins by assuring his disciples that his physical absence, caused by his death, will not be a permanent condition. He will return to them in two ways. He will return at the unspecified end- the end of the world and the end of their own time in the world, their own death- and he will return to them soon; also unspecified, but soon to be experienced on the evening of the resurrection, in the form of his Spirit. If he does not cease to be present with and to and in them, neither do his works, the works he was originally sent to do by his Father, cease. They will continue through his disciples because he will continue through them. The key to this “continuing,” what John coins or terms “remaining,” or “abiding,” or “indwelling,” is faith, insight, not physical vision.
In verse one, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.” In the Old Testament and in the Synoptics “heart,” is the place where decisions are made. In other words, “heart,” means “the will.” In John it also is seen as the seat of the emotions. On level one, this physical world, the disciples are emotionally “troubled,” because Jesus is speaking of his death and departure. The verb for “troubled,” Greek tarassein, was used to describe Jesus’ emotional state when confronted with Lazarus’ death in chapter eleven verse thirty-three, and with his own betrayal, unto death, by Judas in chapter thirteen verse twenty-one. Jesus means here, “Do not continue to be troubled,” not to not have such emotions in the first place. Emotions are not within our control, and Jesus knew that firsthand. However, when submitted to our attitudes, the will, their intensity does abate, allowing us to see more clearly. The disciples are understandably troubled by the thought of serving an absent Master, of what will happen to them when Jesus is no longer there with them, physically present. But, the trouble is about more than sentiment alone; it is part of the dualistic struggle between Jesus and the Prince of this world
Have faith in God…in me: Faith is the remedy for emotional turmoil. In Hebrew the word comes from the root ‘-m-n, “to be firm, solid.” The word “Amen,” comes from this root. Faith is participating in the very “firmness,” of God, rock solid. Thus, when in any turmoil, being swirled around, off one’s feet, in the air, the solution is to grab onto something solid, God. The emphasis in the Greek, however, falls on “also in me.” Jesus’ demand that they trust him involves more than a vote of confidence. Their conscious association with him will continue to conquer the Prince of darkness because they are in union with Jesus.
In verse two, “In 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?”
Jesus is referring, of course, to heaven, but using an earthly metaphor. Heaven was imagined as if it were a palace or place as the earthly Jerusalem Temple is like God’s palace. Jesus is telling his disciples that he is going back to his Father, to the realm and reality of God. He has been there before and knows that there is room aplenty for all. As Christ he came to earth to prepare humans as “dwelling places,” for the divine indwelling, now he goes to heaven to prepare “dwelling places,” for those very same humans. “Dwelling,” translates the Greek mone, a cognate of menein, “remain, abide, dwell,” the term in John for the permanent and mutual indwelling of- Father- Son- Spirit- Christian.
If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?: The disciples are to “have faith also in me,” verse one, because Jesus has been there, in eternity, and knows what he is talking about. He says so; they take him at or believe in, his word.
In verse three, “And 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.” Just as there are two levels of reality, level one is the earthly; level two the heavenly, so there are two dimensions or realms of divine presence-abiding-indwelling. This statement of Jesus would fit into and apply to either, but he means it here in the second level sense. Jesus is speaking of the final state of affairs when humans will live only on level two, along with him. He will later explain to his disciples that he will send his Spirit verses fifteen to seventeen, upon his resurrection, the Spirit who will abide with and within them here and now. For the present he is speaking of the future and final state of reality, his final “return,” to bring them “up,” not spatially “up,” but directionally “up,” to and with him and his Father.