Be joyful in HOPE,
patient in affliction,
faithful in prayer.
Share with the Lord’s
people who are in need.
Romans 12:12-13

Easter 5 – 2023

John 14:1-11, “Knowing Jesus is Knowing the Father Personally,”

Prayer: Lord, our hearts are troubled over many things. Comfort us at all times with the knowledge that You are the Way to the Father, and if we know You we also know the Father, have direct access to Him, and by Your blood stand before Him already in the blessed mansions that You are preparing. Amen.

In the name of Jesus, who shows you the Father, fellow redeemed in Christ:

When you come to the beginning of John 14 you’re suddenly in an intimate setting. This begins Jesus’ special farewell message to His twelve disciples.

Jesus spoke all of chapter 14 to them in the Upper Room on the night He was betrayed. These words were spoken after Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper and after Judas went out to betray Him. At the end of this chapter, knowing the moment has come to take the walk to Gethsemane, Jesus says, “As the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here.” His words in chapters 15-16 are spoken on the way to Gethsemane.

Although Jesus spoke these words on that night to those men, these words are for all who are His disciples to hold close. Jesus is speaking at close range to you. You’re face to face with Him. It’s quiet. It’s still. You’ve come into this room with your sins, with troubles, fears and guilt.

His first words to you are: “Let not your heart be troubled,” and then don’t you breathe a sigh of relief? Doesn’t His voice give you peace?

Because Jesus is risen, because He’s alive, He’s able to speak these words to you. His Word is powerful that way. In these chapters we find almost all Jesus’ teaching about the Triune God; yet this isn’t mere information. Jesus is speaking personally. He makes the Father personal to you as well. You don’t just come to know more about the true God; you come to know Him.

Listen again to how Jesus says this. We’ll hear two disciples – Thomas and Philip – asking questions, and getting corrected by Jesus. These disciples – who are stand-ins for us – are more comfortable keeping God and His teaching at comfortable arm’s length. Jesus doesn’t let them do that. He says:

“And where I go you know, and the way you know.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father …” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father.”

See how direct this is? Thomas wants Jesus to show them a “way” to God. Sort of, “point out the way and I’ll go do it.” Philip wants Jesus to teach them about the Father: Show us what the Father’s like. Speculating what God is like.

But Jesus recognizes what this is, and He uses this to do something wonderful. First let’s talk about what this problematic way of thinking is. We’re tempted to keep God at arm’s length or treat Him as an impersonal entity. This allows the devil space to put things in between you and God.

(1) The devil can put a tragedy, a death, or a loss in that space so that you look at whatever bad thing happens in your life and you ask: “Where is God?” and you start to judge God or doubt His goodness.

(2) Or the devil can take that space between you and God and put friends and family, or youth sports and frivolous entertainment options, or every-thing on your smartphone or social media, all the opinions of other people, into that space to replace God in what consumes your thoughts and energy.

So even we Christians succumb to what’s called “practical atheism.” You’re not an atheist. You do believe in God, the true God, the Triune God. But you carry on in life as if He doesn’t exist. You take care of your problems yourself. You pray as a last resort. You feel that things won’t work out unless you do everything right. You blame people or get angry at others, at our leaders, even the church, for not fixing or addressing what’s wrong in our world. What kind of faith in God is this? It’s self-reliance, not faith, which is to trust in Him above all things, including your efforts and all obstacles.

So now see the wonderful thing Jesus. Jesus tells Thomas, no, He Himself is the Way—the Road. If you struggle to stay on the path, well, Jesus is the Path – the Way. Faith is holding onto Him. If you’re holding onto Jesus by faith, suddenly you find that He’s brought you to God. Suddenly your sins don’t separate you from God. How? Jesus took care of them. He atoned for them.

Jesus has actually brought you into God’s presence with no sins, as it says in Ephesians 5, that Christ presents His Church, His bride, to God “not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without blemish.” You stand before Him as God’s holy child. You have direct access to the Father, a relationship to Him that involves no fear or dread because of Jesus.

It’s also wonderful what Jesus says to Philip: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” So none of that speculating, Jesus says. You don’t have to wonder what God is like, not if you know the Gospel, the life of Jesus and what He’s done for you. Jesus says in essence, Look at Me. You know Me. You know My love for you. That’s what the Father’s like! You want to see Him, look at Me. Watch what I do, carrying everyone’s sins, dying for you, rising from the dead.

So what Jesus does – and this is so wonderful – is that He takes our natural tendency to keep God at arm’s length and He bridges the gap. He fills that space. “I Am the Way,” He comes close. He makes it personal. He says not only “I am the Way” but also “I Am the Truth.” It means that His Word, His doctrine, is just Himself. It is true as He is true. As He is Truth. Truth is a Person. It’s Jesus. What He says to you about God is truth. What He says to you about yourself – first Law and then Gospel – also is Truth.

He knows your sin of practical atheism, He acknowledges it when He says, “You believe in God. Believe also in Me.” It’s not that we don’t already believe in Him, but it’s about knowing Him, having a constant connection to Him, that He’s familiar to you and so is God the Father. So Jesus right away talks about “My Father’s house” and makes it familiar to you.

That’s what this business of the rooms, mansions, dwellings is about. He says He prepares your room. In heaven this isn’t like our rooms where we have to knock out a wall to make it bigger, and it’s not even like we have physical rooms, but He wants us to think of it this way: that as more of your loved ones come into your room the room just grows, it’s always as big as it needs to be, it’s perfectly made for you, as beautiful as can be. We are not to think of it as an eternal hangout, as if God is hardly even there. When people think of heaven they often forget God. Jesus isn’t doing that! He just wants us to think of it as perfect, familiar, friendly, roomy – and that He’s doing it all. And as He fills that home with His presence, He fills our current home with Himself, even your own body which by faith is His dwelling, His temple.

But with this talk about the many rooms and the place He makes for you, Jesus isn’t saying something about “someday.” He’s saying that through Him – by faith – we actually come into the Father’s house, right now. We won’t just be in heaven someday. We are where He is now, as His Word and Sacra-ments bring Him to us, and by faith we confess Him as true God, our Savior.

Your life in Him is beautiful now. He tells you that right now you have come to the Father, through Him. This is what the Gospel gives you. You are in His Father’s house, where He is. What can hurt you? Who can harm you? How bad can anything be? You are where Christ is.

What more can you have? You’re in His Father’s house, where you have more riches than this world can offer, the unbelieving world is shut out, all is safe, secure, and all your true loved ones – who believe in Christ – are there.

Living your life in the world then is like coming back to earth from heaven:

So an irritating person tries to anger you. You are where Jesus is, in His Father’s house. So won’t you love that one, whose words or actions can’t hurt you, because you’re where Jesus is? This gives you patience with them.

So you have debts, unfinished tasks and unmet goals piling up. But you live in the Father’s house. Everything is prepared for you. Won’t this help you not just to fix up your home, but to fill it with Christ’s love, and patience with yourself and others?

So there are many things to fear, dread and worry about. The world is against us. But you are in the Father’s house. All is safe and secure under His watchful eye. “Let not your heart be troubled.”

May our place in the Father’s house, being where Jesus is, so come into our daily life on earth that all our life will be a living “hymn of praise,” which people see from us and in us, that all may join us in daily coming to the Father through Jesus, the only Way, the only Truth, and the only Life. Amen!