5th Sunday of Easter

by Crossings

Finding Our Way Home
John 14:1-14
(Fifth Sunday of Easter)
analysis by Michael Hoy


1Jesus said to the disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. 4And you know the way to the place where I am going.” 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Do 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; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”

DIAGNOSIS: Home Sickness

Step 1 — Initial Diagnosis: Troubles with departure
The disciples of Jesus have “troubled” hearts. And the troubling of their hearts is not so much related to their own departure as it is to his (Jesus’) own departure, upon which he comments in these farewell discourses. Not only they, but the church for some time has struggled with his departure. The most fatal flaws, even at the surface level, is the church’s failure to home in on Jesus–thinking that the real way home is knowing “where you are going” or finding satisfaction in “having the Father shown” to them, as if there were “other” necessary clues in order to deal now with the fact that Jesus is “leaving,” to give some security in an insecure world. Is the real authority, the real sense of home now, in the church structures? in spiritual or moral experience? in a fundamentalistic “word of God”? What do we do now?

Step 2 — Advanced Diagnosis: Not knowing, not believing
Because it is their “hearts” that are troubled, the underlying danger is what the disciples and the church “believes” in the departure of Jesus. What they/we do NOT know is “Jesus.” Christology (at least an adequately saving one) is the first thing to go, at the level of faith. Jesus, even before he leaves, is cut out of the picture. The disciples and church want to get on with their “real” agenda. That is the faithlessness of the heart, and the problem which Jesus himself perceives in his church (vs. 6, 9).

Step 3 — Final Diagnosis: No way home
But then comes the real problem. With Jesus’ departure, and with no sense of connectedness with him, there is no final homecoming for the disciples and the church. “No one comes to the Father except through me.” And if Jesus is cut out, there is no getting back to the Father–no getting home. When Jesus leaves, any real home for us leaves with him.

PROGNOSIS: Home bound

Step 4 — Initial Prognosis: The Father’s dwelling with us in the Son
But leaving us is not, nor ever was, the Son’s (Jesus’) intent. Truth is, he isn’t really leaving–at least not ultimately, and certainly not spiritually or ecclesiologically or confessionally or scripturally. His talk of departure here is his paving the way for the disciples to have a home–a home which they never really had to begin with. For that, all his dwelling with them, even unto death, was important. But because he has undertaken that dwelling with us, and is the Father’s own in-dwelling presence (vs. 7, 10-11), he can make for us the reassuring claim, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (v. 6) who has gone “to prepare a place for you” (v. 2).

Step 5 — Advanced Prognosis: Knowing, believing
What we get to do in Jesus’ homecoming work is “know” him, “believe in” him. And believing in him opens the vista of having the Father as OUR Father. When our only real claim is that Jesus the Christ makes our home with God, then we are really freed at the heart level. We don’t have to chisel out our home-life (with which we do not have much success anyway). Jesus is our home, and is at home in our hearts, and with him, so is the in-dwelling Father.

Step 6 — Final Prognosis: Greater works
But there is even more promise for our childlike-being-at-home-in-Jesus. “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these. . . ” (v. 12). The power of the resurrection is just beginning to be unleashed in the world–and Jesus is giving us his authority to be the agents of its power, beyond what he has done in his own being “glorified.” We get to home in on the world as a great place for mission. Once Jesus has us heading in the homeward direction through faith in him, giving us the right and freedom to ask in his name along the way (vs. 13-14), there is no knowing how deeply the promise may run in the world. Or maybe there is–at least an eschatological glimmer through our knowing-by-faith-in-Jesus–such that we are emboldened all the way. Indeed, we are at home in the doing, the living of the promise.


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