It is Thursday evening, and the crucifixion will happen on Friday. Jesus is meeting with his disciples in the last meal, and in it, giving them instructions and assurances, and again predicting his death. Much of this did not register with the disciples, as indicated by their responses upon his arrest and desertion after the sham trial. But Jesus has some final lessons for his disciples, which will shape them and the early church after his resurrection and departure to heaven. He has warned of Judas’ betrayal, and Peter’s impending denials. Now he addresses three questions: where are you going? Show us the Father? And what about your work left in the world? All these questions coming amidst confusion and fear.
““Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that 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. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going. 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know[b] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him. John 14:1-7.
1. How Failure Leads to Fear. On the heels of two dramatic predictions – Judas’ betrayal from their inner group of disciples, and Peter’s denial of Him – Jesus comes as the Good Shepherd to provide comfort, assurance and direction. This comfort is tied directly to their relationship to God. You believe in God – believe also in me.
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.
2. And Fear Leads to Faith. One of the sweetest promises of the New Testament is not only that our destination is heaven, but that for those alive at His Second Coming, he is coming back for His own. And as the Good Shepherd, he will not abandon his own sheep.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” John 10:11-18.
3. Jesus as the Way. And to the real question of how can we follow if we don’t know where you are going, from Thomas. Jesus directs the attention of the disciples not to a geographic location, but back to their relationship with Him. In that there is sufficient security. And through the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross, access is provided back to God – fully forgiven, restored and redeemed.
I am the way, the truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
How do you handle the unexpected, the pressing questions that come from life crises or reversals? In this text it is enough to go back to the feet of Jesus. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.
No better referral or affirmation for the vicissitudes, meaning ‘a change of circumstances or fortune, typically one that is unwelcome or unpleasant’, of life.
Stay well during this season of growth and new life.
– John Moore