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Five Ways Into Sunday’s Scripture: No Roadmap But Relationship

Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In 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? And 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. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “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.”

Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus 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’? Do 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. Believe 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. 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, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”

John 14:1–14

This is part of Jesus’ “Farewell Discourse” that starts in chapter 13 with the Last Supper. Jesus tells the disciples he will be with them only a little while longer, that one will betray and another deny him. It is a lot. Everything seems to be shifting under their feet. It makes sense that disciples are confused and have a lot of questions.

Jesus tells the disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” and that he will prepare a place for them — for us. In this Gospel passage, Jesus is emphasizing that all we need is our relationship with him. All that Jesus is and has done shows us who God is. And yet, he says that no one can come to the Father except through him. What about our Jewish and Muslim siblings? And of those of other faiths? In this response to Thomas’ question “How we will know the way?” Jesus offers reassurance that he will always be with us as the way, truth, and life. It isn’t a commentary on other faiths or beliefs — especially Judaism, as Jesus and the disciples were Jews! 

And Jesus goes on to say that anything asked in his name, he will do. How many of us have prayed fervently and our prayer seems to be unanswered? But maybe we are called to see the work that God is already doing in the world around us. Wherever there is healing, reconciliation, and hope, God is at work. Maybe we are more a part of this than we recognize. 

Jesus offers no roadmap but a relationship. And as with any relationship, it is ongoing and ever evolving. We are always invited to get to know Jesus more deeply. We invite him to know us in all our troubles, sorrows, and joys. And we participate with him in bringing God’s healing and hope to the world around us.

—Ruth Frey

Gayle Landis notes that “all through the Book of John, the writer is trying to share the importance of knowing Jesus.”

Eric Barreto observes, “If God has prepared a home for us, ought we not prepare a home for our neighbor? If God has prepared a home for us, perhaps God is building some today even as we try to erect fences around our own.”

A beautiful 1968 film recording of Pete Seeger singing “My Father’s Mansion has Many Rooms.”

Kerry James Marshall’s painting “Many Mansions” plays off John 14:2 and is “filled with ironic and startling juxtapositions of the real and artificial.” It points to how good intentions can mask the truth of our unwillingness to see what we are doing to others.

St. Teresa of Avila echoes Jesus’ instruction: “Let nothing trouble you.”

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Coming Soon

This Sunday at 10am, join Discovery for Joy in Paul’s Letter to the Philippians with Summerlee Staten, Executive Director of Faith Formation & Education.