THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER ~May 14, 2017
Today’s Gospel is part of Jesus’ intimate talk with his disciples at the Last Supper as recorded by John
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You have faith in God; have faith also in me.”
I rely much of this commentary on Scripture scholar William Barclay. He says that in a very short time life for the disciples was going to fall apart. Their world was going to collapse in chaos around the. And Jesus here was comforting them.
The Psalmist says, “My eyes are toward you, O God; in You I seek refuge” (Psalm 141:8). There comes a time when we have to believe what we cannot prove and to accept what we cannot understand. Note that he says ask not only believe in God, but believe in him.
Jesus goes on to say . . .
“In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.
If there were not,
would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back again and take you to myself,
so that where I am you also may be.”
In preparing a place for us he was going ahead of us. Barclay notes that one of the great words used to describe Jesus is prodomos and the Authorized Version and the Revised Standard translate it as forerunner. Jesus blazed the way to heaven and to God that we might follow in his steps.
And then he says he will come again, telling of the ultimate triumph of Jesus. The curious thing about the Second Coming, Barclay suggests, is Christians seem to disregard it entirely or to think of nothing else. It is true we cannot know when it will happen or what will happen, but one thing is certain—history is going somewhere!
And then Jesus said . . .
“Where I am going you know the way.”
Thomas said to him,
“Master, 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.”
Again and again, Jesus had told his disciples where he was going, but somehow they just didn’t get it.
There was one among them who could never say he could understand what he really did not comprehend, and that was Thomas. He was far too honest and far to earnest to be satisfied with any pious expressions. Thomas had to be sure. So he expressed his doubts and his failure to understand and the wonderful thing is that it was the question of a doubting man that provoked one of the greatest things Jesus ever said. No one need ever be ashamed of his doubts; for it is amazingly and blessedly true that he who seeks will in the end find.
Jesus said to Thomas: “ I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life.” That is a great saying for us, but it would be still greater for a Jew hearing it for the first time.
The Jews talked much about the ways of God. “You shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God has commanded you (Dt. 5:32).
And Jesus said: “I am the Way.” What did he mean? Suppose you are a stranger in town and ask for directions. You’re told “Take a right five blocks down, then go right four blocks; take a left. Pass the Presbyterian Church on your right. Turn left again; and go five more blocks and your destination will be on your left. Chances you’ll be lost before you get halfway there.
But suppose the person says, “Come, I’ll take you there.” That’s what Jesus does in saying, “I am the Way.” He doesn’t tell us about the way; he is the Way!
Jesus said “I am the Truth.” The Psalmist said, “ Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may know your truth” (Psalm 86). Many have told us the truth but few have embodied it. Moral truth cannot be conveyed by words.; it can only be conveyed by example. Moral perfection finds its realization in Jesus.
Jesus said, “I am the Life.” “You show me the path to life, the fullness of joy in your presence (Psalm 16). And there is only one way of putting all this. “No one,” said Jesus, “comes to the Father, except through me.” In him alone do we see what God is like; and in he alone can lead men into God’s presence without fear and without shame.
And then . . .
Philip said to him,
“Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time
and you still do not know me, Philip?
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 speak to you I do not speak on my own.
The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.
Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me,
or else, believe because of the works themselves.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father.”
The Jews would never have dared to think that they could ever see God. But Jesus is saying that as they see him, they see the Father! Barclay says that a Lucan scholar said that Luke had “domesticated God.” Jesus is portrayed is so many scenes of ordinary life.
In Jesus, God once and for all sanctified human birth, sanctified the humble human home of ordinary folk and sanctified all childhood.
God was not ashamed of to do man’s work. Jesus was the carpenter of Nazareth. We can never fully realize the wonder of the fact that God understands or day’s work. He knows the difficulty of making ends meet. He knows the difficulty of the ill-mannered customer and the client who will not pay his bills. According to the Old Testament, work is a curse. But according to the New Testament, work is tinged with glory.
In Jesus, we also see that God knows what it is to be tempted. In Jesus, we see, not the serenity but the struggle of God. God is not like a commander who leads from behind the lines; he too knows the firing line of life.
In Jesus, we see God loving. The moment love enters into life, pain enters in. If we could be absolutely detached, if we could so arrange life that nothing and nobody mattered to us, then there would be no such thing as sorrow and pain and anxiety. But in Jesus we see God caring intensely, feeling poignantly for them, loving them until he bore the wounds of love upon his heart.
In Jesus, we see God upon the Cross. There is nothing so incredible as this in the whole word. No one would ever dreamed of a God who chose to obtain our salvation.
“He who has seen me has seen me has seen the Father.” Jesus is the revelation of God and that revelation leaves the mind of man staggered and amazed!
Jesus, O how wonderful, you are to me, to us!
You have guided me on my way through many a dark wood.
You show me the way to your Truth; You are the One I seek.
You make known to me the path of life and fill me with joy in your presence,
May I learn to love you and more and more.
And through your love, to be a person of love.
And on this Mother’s Day,
please bless all our mothers and grandmothers, living and deceased,
you who were so devoted to your own mother,
please bless them all today in a special way!
And now before you go, here’s a faith-filled musical response for us. Click here.
And here are all of today’s Mass readings, if you’d like to reflect on them. Click here.
With love, Bob Traupman,
William Barclay / The Daily Study Bible Series / the Gospel of John- Volume 2 /Revised Edition The Westminster Press Philadelphia 1975 – pp. 152-158.