A reading and a reflection
St John 14: 1-13
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 him, ‘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.
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no one comes to the Father except through me!”
Isn’t it extraordinary how we’ve managed to distort what Jesus is saying here? Jesus says – as unambiguously as possible – “I am the Way …”, and we have distorted and weaponised his words to read, “Christianity is the Way”!
I say, “distorted”, because Jesus never intended to start a new religion (Christianity). He came to renew the Judaism of his day by “showing them the Father” (in John’s terms).
Today’s passage is part of the section about Jesus’ impending departure that begins in 13:1. It is John’s equivalent of Jesus preparing to walk the Way of the Cross. When Thomas plaintively responds, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going! How can we know the way?”, Jesus responds, “I am the Way …!” Easter will reveal this shocking, astonishing Truth: the only road to the Life that God has for creation is the Way of the Cross that Jesus is about to walk – the road that leads through death to resurrection as Children of God (1:12-13).
This is the opposite of the “join us or you’re damned!” imperial Christianity! Jesus had told Nicodemus that the only hope for creation is to start over – to be born again (3:3). Nicodemus’ reaction was as comic as it is wrong-headed: “How can we re-enter the womb?” The Easter Jesus gives us the answer to his question. “You can’t! You do it by dying and rising. I am giving my life for that to happen!”
Truths about God can be found in all sorts of faiths, places and people. But only Jesus has died and been raised by God on behalf of all creation. God has done that through no-one else.
Your Way – THE Way – is hard, Lord.
Don’t give me a bowl and towel – I’d rather have people at my feet than be at theirs.
And as for my fellow-travellers – I really struggle to love them at all, most of the time –
let alone love them like you do!
Thank you for loving me the way you do.
Thank you for welcoming me back every time I fail or deny you.
By your Spirit, help me to plant my footsteps in yours
so that we can walk the Way together.