Wednesday 15 March 2023

John 14:8-14 - Making it clear

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This must have felt frustrating; Jesus has already explained to them all and then added more to help Thomas. But now Philip doesn't understand either. But Jesus is able to cope with anything, and in this he leads the way for us; frustration doesn't lead to impatience. We are called to be patient as he is patient.

Philip asks Jesus to show the Father to the puzzled, anxious disciples, and he adds that doing so will satisfy them. Jesus is surprised. I've been with you all this time, Philip: how can you not know me?

Simple truth - And he explains again the simple truth that he and his Father are one, 'I'm in the Father, and he's in me'. This simple truth is hard for Philip to grasp because it is so deep, so astonishing, yet so simple. Surely far too simple to be true, and far too shocking as well. Nobody has ever made claims like this before! It is either true, or Jesus is utterly deluded, or at worst he's a complete fraud. No wonder Philip struggles! Jesus tells him that if he can't believe what he says, he should certainly believe what he's been doing - healing the sick, raising the dead, forgiving the guilty. Who else but the Father himself could do this stuff?

The Father's glory - If you believe in me you'll do even greater things because, when I'm in the Father's presence, you'll be able to ask whatever is needed and I'll do it for you. Why? Because the Father's glory (the Presence that has long been in the holiest place in the Temple) will instead be in Jesus and his glory will no longer be contained in the Holy of Holies but will be contained in Jesus instead. And although Jesus doesn't say so here, the Father's glory will therefore be in the church because we, the church, are Jesus' body here in the world. Perhaps this is not fully understood or expressed until the Holy Spirit reveals it to Paul on the Damascus road. Paul knew only too well that the Presence had left the Holy Place, it was now desolate and empty, utterly destroyed by a Roman Army. There is a new Holy Place, the church, inhabited by the Son, and through him, by the Father too since they are one. Although this was plain to Paul after the Temple's destruction, it may have been far less clear to the disciples while the Temple still stood intact.

We carry an inestimable treasure with us wherever we go! And if that doesn't fill you with hope, joy, and encouragement, I don't know what will.

Friday 3 February 2023

John 14:1-7 - Troubled

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Jesus has been talking about his betrayal, I think we can assume that all those around him at the table will be alarmed, confused, and liable to ask questions. Perhaps some were afraid to show their ignorance by asking, so remained quiet. They were people just like us!

Trust - Jesus tells them not to be in so much turmoil, he reminds them that they have put their trust in the Father so they should put their trust in him too. This  is quite a stretch for people brought up in the Jewish tradition; hadn't they always been taught  there's a dualism here? On one hand there is the great creator Lord who brought everything into existence. On the other is the mass of humanity formed from dust, often evil, disobedient, untrustworthy. And between the two is a huge divide that cannot be crossed - isn't there? Jesus is effectively saying that they should trust him just like they would the Almighty himself!

Plenty of Room - Jesus refers to the Almighty as his Father! Maybe they were used to hearing this from him by now. But he says there's plenty of space in 'my Father's house' and that he's going to get places ready for them. I suspect most Jews, given the concept of Yahweh's house, would have immediately thought of the lavish Temple with its Holy Place where the glory of the Most High lived. Jesus is saying there's room for us in the Holy of Holies? Surely not! And Jesus adds, 'You know the way there'.

Surely Thomas speaks for most of them when he says, 'No idea what you are talking about, Rabbi'. Obviously Jesus can't mean the holy heart of the Temple, only the Chief Priest is allowed in there, and only once a year at that. Jesus' reply is fascinating.

Way, truth and life - He tells Thomas that he himself is the way to this holiest of places. In the same breath he says that he is also the truth, and the life. He is the way to the dwelling place of the Most High, he is the truth (much of which he's been teaching them by his words and examples for about three years), and he is also life itself. 'If you know me, you already know the Father. From now on', Jesus says, 'You do know the Father'.

It's the same for us today, isn't it? If you really know Jesus, you know the Father too. They are, in fact, one and the same. If you're not sure if you know the Father - then get to know Jesus better! He is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. He is all you could possibly need.

Here's a secret to treasure. If the church is Christ's body (1 Cor 12:37), here in the world today, then Jesus is the Holy of Holies within the church, the place where Yahweh has made his home among us.

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