The Fifth Sunday of Easter
Pastor George Pejakovich
John 14:1-14

IN OUR GOSPEL FOR TODAY, WE RETURN TO THE EVENING OF THE LAST SUPPER, AT WHICH NO ONE’S HEART IS UNTROUBLED. JESUS HAD BEEN TALKING ABOUT LEAVING HIS DISCIPLES, AND THEY WERE WORRIED ABOUT THAT. THEY HAD BEEN JOCKEYING FOR A BETTER POSITION IN THE NEW KINGDOM THEY THOUGHT WAS COMING; EVEN ARGUING ABOUT WHICH OF THEM WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT, UNTIL JESUS SILENCED THEM BY WASHING THEIR FEET. JUDAS HAD SLIPPED AWAY WHEN IT BECAME DARK, AND THE OTHERS KNEW THAT THE AUTHORITIES WANTED TO ARREST JESUS, SO THIS REALLY TROUBLED THEM. EVEN JESUS SEEMED TO BE TROUBLED BY WHAT HE ALONE KNEW WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN. HE TOLD HIS DISCIPLES THAT HE WAS GOING AWAY AND THAT THEY WOULD SEE HIM NO MORE, AND FEAR AND ANXIETY GRIPPED THEIR HEARTS. IN THE MIDST OF ALL THIS TENSION, ANXIETY, AND FEAR, JESUS SAID, “DO NOT LET YOUR HEARTS BE TROUBLED.”

MANY PEOPLE, EVEN MANY WHO CLAIM THE NAME OF CHRISTIAN, SEEM TO THINK THAT BEING A CHRISTIAN MEANS TO BE FREE OF THE STRESS OF TENSION, ANXIETY, AND EVEN FEAR. TO THINK THAT WE, THE FOLLOWERS OF JESUS, ARE TO BE HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY ALL THE TIME IS ABSURD. THERE ARE MANY THINGS THAT AFFECT US AND TROUBLE OUR HEARTS. WE MIGHT LOSE OUR JOB, AND WONDER HOW TO FEED OUR FAMILY. OUR LOVED ONES MAY GET SICK, OR EVEN DIE. WE CAN BE TROUBLED BY THE EVENTS AROUND US, EVEN BY, OF ALL THINGS, POLITICS. WARS AND RUMORS OF WAR WEIGH ON OUR SPIRITS. THE MERE FACT OF LIVING MEANS WE ARE GETTING OLDER, AND WE ARE TROUBLED ABOUT HOW WE WILL GET ALONG IN THE FUTURE. “DO NOT LET YOUR HEARTS BE TROUBLED,” JESUS SAID, “BELIEVE IN GOD, BELIEVE ALSO IN ME.” ONE CAN TRANSLATE THE WORD PISTOS AS EITHER BELIEVE OR TRUST. HERE, OUR TEXTS SHOULD READ, “TRUST IN GOD, TRUST ALSO IN ME.” WE CAN’T AVOID THE TROUBLING OF OUR HEARTS, BUT WE CAN OVERCOME IT BY TRUST IN JESUS.

WE MOST OFTEN HEAR THIS GOSPEL PASSAGE DURING THE CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE OF THE DEPARTED, AS THE THOUGHT OF JESUS GOING TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR OUR LOVED ONE IS INDEED COMFORTING. THESE ARE, HOWEVER, MUCH MORE THAN WORDS OF COMFORT FOR THOSE WHO GRIEVE; THEY ARE THE ENCAPSULATION OF WHAT THE RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD MEANS TO US AND TO OUR LIVES. WHAT JESUS TELLS HIS DISCIPLES, AND US, IS THAT WE WHO TRUST IN HIM TRUST IN GOD HIMSELF. JESUS IS GOD, AND BY OUR TRUST IN HIM, GOD GRANTS US A LIFE WITH HIM FOREVER. HEAVEN IS NOT A JUST PLACE; IT IS A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD THAT IS LIKE THAT OF JESUS’ RELATIONSHIP TO AND WITH THE FATHER.

THOMAS, UNFAIRLY CALLED DOUBTING THOMAS, DID NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT JESUS WAS TELLING THEM, WHICH IS WHY HE SAID, “LORD, WE DO NOT KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING. HOW CAN WE KNOW THE WAY?” UNLIKE HIS USE OF THE METAPHOR OF BEING THE GATE FOR THE SHEEPFOLD WHICH WE HEARD LAST WEEK, JESUS DOES NOT REBUKE THOMAS, BUT NOW IS EXPLICIT; “I AM THE WAY, AND THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE. NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH ME. IF YOU KNOW ME, YOU WILL KNOW MY FATHER ALSO. FROM NOW ON YOU DO KNOW HIM AND HAVE SEEN HIM.” TO MANY, THIS SOUNDS EXCLUSIVE, AND THEY TRY TO BE MORE INCLUSIVE BY SAYING THINGS LIKE, “JESUS IS A WAY, BUT THERE ARE OTHER WAYS.” IF, HOWEVER, JESUS IS GOD, AND IN KNOWING HIM WE KNOW THE FATHER, THEN THERE CAN BE NO OTHER WAY THAN THROUGH JESUS.

PHILLIP JUST DIDN’T GET IT, AND WHEN HE SAID, “LORD, SHOW US THE FATHER, AND WE WILL BE SATISFIED,” HE MUST HAVE SHOCKED THE ENTIRE GROUP WITH THIS ALMOST BLASPHEMOUS REQUEST, BECAUSE NO ONE CAN SEE GOD AND LIVE. YET THIS IS THE VERY POINT OF GOD COMING TO US IN THE PERSON OF JESUS, THAT WE MIGHT SEE GOD AND COME TO KNOW HIM IN JESUS, AND IN KNOWING HIM HAVE LIFE INDEED, NOW, AND AT OUR DEATH, LIFE IN HIM FOREVER. “HAVE I BEEN WITH YOU ALL THIS TIME, PHILLIP, AND YOU STILL DO NOT KNOW ME? WHOEVER HAS SEEN ME HAS SEEN THE FATHER. HOW CAN YOU SAY, ‘SHOW US THE FATHER?’”

IS YOUR HEART TROUBLED? WE CAN’T HIDE OURSELVES AWAY FROM ALL THE GRIEF AND PAIN THAT WILL COME TO US IN THIS LIFE, BUT WE CAN OVERCOME IT. WHEN OUR HEARTS ARE BURDENED, WHEN FACED WITH FEAR AND UNCERTAINTY, ILLNESS, EVEN DEATH, THERE IS THE ULTIMATE CERTAINTY THAT WILL DRIVE OUT FEAR AND LIFT UP OUR HEARTS. WE CAN’T MAKE THE TROUBLES GO AWAY, BUT WE CAN FACE THEM WITHOUT FEAR, AND CAN ENDURE THEM WITH HOPE, AND, YES, EVEN JOY, BECAUSE WE KNOW THE RISEN LORD JESUS, AND IN KNOWING HIM WE KNOW THE FATHER. IF WE KNOW GOD IN JESUS, THEN GOD THE FATHER KNOWS US, AND HAS CLAIMED US AS HIS OWN FOREVER.

YET, AS THEY SAY IN THE INFOMERCIALS, THERE IS MORE. HE PROMISES THAT WHATEVER WE ASK IN HIS NAME, HE WILL DO IT. THIS IS NOT, HOWEVER, ABOUT US AND OUR NEEDS. PAUL HAD WHAT HE CALLED A THORN IN HIS FLESH ABOUT WHICH HE PRAYED, BUT FROM WHICH HE WAS NOT HEALED. THIS IS ABOUT THE WILL AND THE WORK OF JESUS. TO KNOW JESUS IS TO KNOW HIS MIND AND WILL, AND THE WORKS OF HIS FOLLOWERS DID EXCEED EVEN HIS WORKS. HE NEVER PREACHED TO MORE THAN 5000 PEOPLE, YET THE GOOD NEWS OF GOD’S LOVE AND GRACE HAS BEEN SPREAD BY HIS DISCIPLES ACROSS THE GLOBE. THE WORK HE CALLS US TO IS THAT OF REDEMPTION, LOVE, AND FORGIVENESS, AND FOR THAT WORK WE ARE PRIVILEGED TO CALL UPON HIS NAME.

EVERY BELIEVER WHO TRUSTS IN JESUS HAS THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT TO GUIDE, COUNSEL, AND SUPPORT THEM THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE OF THEIR LIVES, AND, ARE RECEIVED BY JESUS AT THEIR DEATH INTO THE GLORY OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD. WHAT A BLESSING IT IS TO KNOW, THAT OUR GOD IS WITH US EVERY STEP OF OUR JOURNEY, AND WHAT EVER TROUBLE COMES TO US IN THIS LIFE, HE IS WITH US THROUGH IT ALL, AND WAITS TO WELCOME US TO OUR TRUE ETERNAL HOME. EVEN AS STEPHEN WAS BEING STONED TO DEATH, HE CRIED OUT, “I SEE THE SON OF MAN STANDING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE THRONE OF GOD!” HE WAS WAITING TO WELCOME STEPHEN HOME. SO, “DO NOT LET YOUR HEARTS BE TROUBLED;” YOU KNOW GOD IN JESUS, AND GOD KNOWS YOU. WHAT MORE CAN WE POSSIBLY NEED TO LIVE IN LOVE, AND JOY, AND HOPE, WHATEVER COMES OUR WAY?
AMEN

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