"Who's Your Daddy?"           John 14: 1-14            April 20, 2008
 
John 14:1-14
1"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.
 
Today's passage—familiar, favorite, funerals
But also—any time we need assurance
 
More than any of the other gospels, John places Jesus' identity as Messiah, and his position in the cosmic plan of God, in plain view. The so-called "I AM" statements that occur throughout the gospel best describe Jesus' self-identification in John.

Some of the "I AM" statements illustrate a particular role of Christ:
"I am the bread of life" (6:35)
"the light of the world" (8:12; 9:5);
"the gate (for the sheep)" (10:7, 9);
"the good shepherd" (10:11, 14);
"the resurrection and the life" (11:25);
"the (true) vine" (15:1, 5); and in our passage for today,
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life" (14:6).

Others of these statements are absolutes which remind one of the name of God in the Old Testament, "I AM WHO I AM" (Exodus 3:14). For instance,
"You will die in your sins unless you believe that I AM" (8:24);
"When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM" (8:28);
"Before Abraham was, I AM" (8:58); and
"When it does occur, you may believe that I AM" (13:19).
(The New Revised Standard Version, in all but John 8:58, completes the phrase with the pronoun, "he" ("I am he"). It does footnote that the Greek just says, "I am," but the impact is lost by adding "he". ( "I AM" -- Present tense, – state of being )

Another, very interesting "I am" phrase occurs in the episode of the storm on the Sea of Galilee. In John 6:20, when Jesus comes walking across the water toward the boat, he says to the disciples, "I AM. Do not be afraid." (Here again, the NRSV gives a more nuanced translation, "It is I; do not be afraid," but the more basic meaning of the Greek "I AM," which is cited in a note.)
 
In these cases, when Jesus says, "I AM," it seems clear that he is making an obvious statement of identity with God by using God's most holy of holy names, the great "I AM."
 
This is fundamental to our understanding of who Christ is and who we are in relation to the Father. The next time you read the gospel of John, and you come across Jesus' I AM statements, pause a moment, and think of the connection between Jesus' I AM statements and the Lord God Jehovah in the Old Testament. God declared himself to Moses out of the burning bush: I AM that I AM; I exist. God called Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He called Moses, David, Mary and Joseph, God also called you and me.

Who's your daddy? The great I AM.
 
By stressing their relationship to him, and through him, to the Father, Jesus promises them a share in divine power, which will later be supported by the arrival of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, who will guide and support Jesus' followers in his absence.
 
John's Jesus makes it clear that nothing previously known or understood in Jewish tradition can fully explains his power to perform wonders and his unique role in the salvation of the world. Nothing short of absolute identification between himself and the Father can explain that.
 
If one would understand me, says John's Christ, one must understand that I and the Father are ONE. Even here, we are reminded of the greatest of all Jewish creedal statements, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone," or literally, "Yahweh our God is ONE" (Deuteronomy 6:4). There is no clearer statement in John concerning the identity of Christ. Christ is part of the oneness that is God.
 
This is fact. This is the truth of the gospel. "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Intellectually, we may know this and maybe even understand it.
 
However, there are times we feel like Jesus when he cried on the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me." RichardFoster, in his work, Prayer, comments: "You and I will pray this Prayer of the Forsaken if we seek the intimacy of perpetual communion with the Father. Times of seeming desertion and absence and abandonment appear to be universal among those who have walked this path of faith before us. We might just as well get used to the idea that, sooner or later, we, too, will know what it means to feel forsaken by God."

When you feel forsaken by God – remember, who your Daddy is.
 
Foster continues: "The old writers spoke of this reality as Deus Absconditus - the God who is hidden .... Have you ever tried to pray and felt nothing, saw nothing, sensed nothing? Has it ever seemed like your prayers did no more than bounce off the ceiling and ricochet around an empty room? ... Sometimes it just seems like God is hidden from us. We do everything we can. And still there is nothing! It feels like we are 'beating on heaven's door with bruised knuckles in the dark' to use the words of GeorgeButtrick .... Every hope evaporates the moment we reach for it. Every dream dies the moment we try to realize it. We question, we doubt, we struggle. Nothing helps. We pray, and the words seem empty. We turn to the Bible, and find it meaningless. We turn to music, and it fails to move us. We seek the fellowship of other Christians," and are disappointed. (As cited by Ken Gire in Between Heaven and Earth (HarperSanFrancisco, 1997), 268.)
 
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? A comfort in trials is knowing who your daddy is.
 
This was Jesus' intent in this passage: to comfort the disciples. Knowing their fear of separation from him, he promises that they will ultimately be reunited with him in his "Father's house," where Christ himself goes to prepare them a place.

Aside from the obvious meaning of this promise with regard to eternal life and to unity with Christ after death, the phrase "Father's house" also carries meaning aimed at addressing their next fear, namely, how they are to carry on in Jesus' absence. How can they be sure of their future without their great leader? How can they be sure they will be able to follow after him, in either life or death? In response to this fear of inadequacy, Jesus expounds on the nature of the unity between himself and God first hinted at in the phrase, "my Father's house" (v.2).

Jesus answer to his disciples, and to us, directs our thoughts and hearts to our eternal home, to our adoption into God's family, to hope for our future safety, security, belonging and acceptance. 
 
2In my Father's house there are many dwelling-places.
 
Literally, "in the house of my father there are many rooms" (dwelling places. The Greek use of "oikia" in this verse can be translated "house" -- a physical structure (as in 11:31 & 12:3) or "household" -- a community of people (as in 4:53 & 8:35)?" Physical and spiritual; both are implied.
 
In ancient Israelite society, the term "father's house" meant "family." This suggests that there may be a dual intent in the passage. Not only does Christ go to make room for his followers in the heavenly home to which he is going, he also promises them a place in the very family of God.
 
In this case, this unity is available to the disciples and all believers as well and is slightly different from the example of the "I AM" statements above when Jesus stresses the unity between himself and God. By making a place for them in his "Father's house," Jesus reveals the disciples' adoption into God's own family through which they have direct access to all divine authority and power. How's that for encouragement!

Having a bad day? Remember, who your Daddy is!
 
We’re a long way from heaven on earth:

The shipwrecked mariner had spent several years on a deserted island Then one morning he was thrilled to see a ship offshore and a smaller vessel pulling out toward him.

When the boat reached the beach, the officer in charge handed the marooned sailor a bundle of newspapers and told him, “The captain said to read through these and let us know if you still want to be rescued.”
 
Life on earth can be difficult and trying. When you are ready to be rescued from, and through, the trials of your life, remember who your Daddy is.
 
A little boy was on a train running the long trip between two Western cities. It was a hot, dusty day, very uncomfortable for traveling, and that particular ride was perhaps the most uninteresting day’s journey in the whole land.

But the little fellow sat patiently watching the fields and the fences hurrying by until a motherly old lady leaned forward to ask with some sympathy in her voice, “Aren’t you tired of the long ride, dear, and the dust and the heat?”

The little boy looked up brightly, and smiled, “Yes, ma’am, a little. But I don’t mind it much, because my father is going to meet me when I get to the end of it.

This is basically what Christians are assured of: that heaven is a place where we’re sure to be greeted and embraced after a long, sometimes arduous journey.
 
May the Lord bless you and keep you. Amen.
 
 
 
 
Rev. RosemaryStelz
 
 
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