Final Words: The Way

John 14:4-11

Jesus says, “You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Can you see the disciples giving quizzical looks to each other? Peter would probably be pretending comprehension. It’s the thinker, Thomas, who finally asks the question, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” This is doubting Thomas, the one who later would require touching the wounds of Jesus in order to believe. Thomas is an intellectual one, slow to speak, quick to think. He’s the opposite of Peter.

It’s yet another worldview clash between Jesus and the disciples. Thomas and the disciples had a narrow definition of destination and route. It was a human definition. Jesus had a definition that redefined destination. He was going to the Father and He was the Way. The Way was a person and the place was God Almighty’s presence.

Jesus’s words don’t dance in circles. They are straight-lined words, clear and poignant, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” You can chart a direct course on those words, no stops to ask directions. Any ways to the Father that preclude the Son are false and deceptive. Saying no to the Son is saying no to the Father. They are one. You can’t reject the Son and enter the presence of the Father.

Philip says “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Philip was hoping that Jesus could just wave a hand and say, “Tada! Behold the Father.” But the disciples got another unexpected answer. They’ve been seeing the Father for many months now. Jesus is one with the Father. His whole life is “Tada! The Father.” Have the disciples been blind, deaf, and mute? Perhaps Jesus should have spent less time healing the masses and more time opening the eyes and ears of his closest friends.

Jesus’s response to Philip is passionate, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” I don’t think Philip was hurt by Jesus’s rebuke. The tone of Jesus here is one of deep longing. He is a friend, pleading for his friends to understand the work of the Father. (Can you hear him pleading with you to understand?)

Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.”

Jesus is asking his friends to believe that He and the Father are one. If his friends can’t understand the oneness of Father and Son (and in a few verses, the Spirit), then they won’t understand the sacrifice he is about to make. For Jesus to be Savior, He must be fully God and fully man. He identifies with us in our weakness, becoming like us, but without sin. Being sinless, he is the only acceptable sacrifice. As fully God, he fulfills Old Testament promises that the covenant-making Yahweh would bear the punishment for vassal man’s breaking of the covenant.

Belief will unfold over the next 72 hours in the lives of the disciples. At times, belief will be so buried within them that their doubts and fears will dominate external decisions. Only the power of the resurrection will be able to fertilize that seed of belief and enable it to grow.

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Final Words: Expectation that Delivers

It begins, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me…”

It ends, “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

It’s the message of the upper room, Jesus’s last sermon. Food and foot washing flank conversation, conviction, and confusion. It is also Passover, and Jesus and the disciples share a meal worth more than fellowship. It’s a meal of remembrance; a remembrance with greater depth than the disciples are capable of understanding in that moment; a meal that will become a remembrance for a multitude of disciples for the rest of history.

When Jesus begins his final address to the disciples, it is already night, for John tells us that Judas went out into the night (13:30). Can you imagine what Jesus must feel? He knows he only has several hours left with his dear friends. The moment is ripe, but are the hearts of the disciples ready to receive words of hope in circumstances of horror?

John 14:1-3  “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.  2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

It’s sad and confusing news for the disciples. Jesus is jumping ship just when things get dicey, so it appears. Going to prepare a place? Isn’t Jesus needed in Jerusalem for the military takeover? But it’s not battle plans Jesus wants to discuss. He wants to build expectation and anticipation for His Kingdom. Soon enough the meaning of the night will become clear as the disciples watch him beaten and crucified. If the disciples are to have trouble-free hearts, Jesus must explain that this night will not be the end.

Do you have a memory of being a young child and waiting for something, giddy with excitement. Perhaps your father went to the airport to pick up your grandparents and you and your siblings ran around at home wild with expectation. When you tell something to a child who trusts you, that child fully expects that what you say will happen. There’s no doubting. No reasoning abilities to interfere with expectation. A child doesn’t rationalize, “What if Grandpa and Grandma missed their connection in the Houston airport?”

Jesus expects us to wait on him with the same certainty of hope. We wait for the little things with hope, and we wait on the final things with hope. He is going to prepare a place and he will come back to take us there. His plans will suffer no delays. No missed flights.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.” In other words, this is not the end. It may seem like the end, but it is not. The end is a place with many rooms. When the blood begins to drip, Jesus wants his disciples to be confident of his return.