Monday, September 20, 2021

John 14:1-14

John 14:1–14: I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life

I won’t bother to give a synopsis of the “action” in this passage, since it’s just a conversation between Jesus and his disciples, I’ll just go straight into my thoughts in a verse-by-verse manner.

Passage Thoughts
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” Jesus starts by talking to his disciples about trust: trust in Him, and trust in the Father. When he refers to their hearts being troubled, it might be that the message is finally starting to sink in: he’s going to die! (Probably not, though.) But regardless as to why their hearts are troubled, they know Jesus, they know enough to trust him, and they certainly know enough to trust the Father, too. That should provide them comfort; He wouldn’t have told them/us that He’s going to prepare a place for us if it wasn’t true.
“And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Is Jesus just playing word games with them, when he says, “you know the way to where I am going?” I don’t think so; I think his point is what he says next, in response to Thomas’ question: they know him, and he is the way. I keep talking over and over about the fact that the disciples don’t yet understand everything about how salvation works, and how Jesus has to die (and be resurrected), but they should know enough, by this point, after spending the last three years with Jesus, to know that he is the way.
“If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” I’m struck by the “from now on you do know him and have seen him” part: Once Jesus does his work on the cross, and the Holy Spirit is sent, everything will become crystal clear.
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I 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’? Do 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 authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” Jesus has been claiming such a close relationship between himself and the Father that the religious leaders want to stone him for blasphemy, and yet the disciples still don’t quite get it, either. He has said things like, “I and the Father are one,” and made similar comments that indicate the same thing he’s saying here: “If you look at me, you’re seeing the Father.” As usual, I’m not saying the disciples are dumb, I’m just saying that the claims made by Jesus are so incredible that they’re hard to take in. Even for modern-day Christians. But they’re also true.

I’ll quote the last part on its own, because I think it takes more thought:

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (verses 12–14)

The reason these three verses take more thought is that we sometimes tend to take verses 13 and 14 out on their own, as if they weren’t preceded by verse 12. And then we’ve suddenly got a passage that makes it seem like God is our own personal magic genie! I can ask Him for whatever I want! And He’ll give it to me—Jesus said so! But those verses don’t exist in isolation; they’re part of a larger point Jesus is making; frankly, verse 12 is more important than the two verses that follow it: If you believe in Jesus you will do the works that he does—and even greater ones will be possible, once He’s with the Father and His work here is done (and you have the Holy Spirit)—and in that context anything we ask of the Father will be done.

Can you imagine Jesus praying to the Father, “Please give me a really fancy car?” or, “Please help me win the lottery?” I can’t. But I can imagine Him saying, “Please help me minister to these people in need.” Don’t read this and think to yourself, “I can ask Jesus to make me rich and healthy, and he said He’ll do it!” Read this and think to yourself, “I can be like Jesus, and all I have to do is ask Him for it!”

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