What does it mean to follow in the Way of Jesus?
Scripture: John 14: 1-14
One morning, a young boy named Kevin and his grandfather went to get donuts. Grandpa had a deep faith and he wanted to make sure that Kevin knew about God and the way things worked. So he asked his grandson, “Kevin, which way is heaven?”
Keving pointed up.
“And which way is hell?”
Kevin pointed down.
Grandpa continued, “And where are you going?”
Kevin replied, “To get donuts.”
John’s gospel is full of passages that provide us with a sense of comfort, John’s words put us at ease. They remind us that Jesus came to love us, that God loves us. Our passage this morning is full of that sentiment. “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” “I am the way, and the truth and the life.”
These are words that provide us with comfort. And they should, and probably for far deeper reasons than we can imagine. Let’s take a look at the first words that Jesus speaks in this passage. “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Words meant to reassure and comfort us. But reassure us of what?
This passage in John’s gospel, comes immediately after Jesus predicts that he will be betrayed by Judas and his prediction of Peter’s denial. After those troubling conversations Jesus then up with the words ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled.’ When we situate the words of the text within their appropriate context it adds a layer of depth and meaning them which are not present when we read the words in isolation.
You are going to betray me, and you are going to deny knowing me. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Can you hear the grace that Jesus offers up to his disciples? I know these things will happen, but do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.
Jesus then tells the disciples how he goes to prepare a place for them in God’s house, in heaven. That there they might be together. It is an extraordinary grace that Jesus offers to the disciples and by extension to us. There are days when our thoughts and actions betray Jesus. When the activities we engage in deny our knowledge of Christ. Yet, Jesus says do not let your hearts be troubled. Even amidst our confusion, doubt, and outright denial Jesus extends grace, upon grace to us.
And you can hear the confusion in their voices. ‘We don’t know where you are going! How can we know the way!’
In Greek the term hodos is the word for way, road, or highway. While the term can serve as an understanding for an actual road or way, hodos can also mean a journey or a trip. (Angela Parker – https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/fifth-sunday-of-easter/commentary-on-john-141-14-6)
Early followers of Jesus, the first church if you will, referred to themselves as Followers of the Way. The Way of Jesus. What John makes evident in this passage is that following in Jesus means an outpouring of grace. We aren’t selective, we don’t hold back grace from people who have harmed or hurt us. If that was the case, Jesus would not have spoken the words ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled’ to the disciples. If we believe in Jesus, we will also do the work of Jesus.
Let’s get back to Kevin and his grandpa. Kevin is focused on donuts, can’t say I blame him. Grandpa is focused on heaven and hell or perhaps more specifically Kevin’s eternal salvation.
Which one of them has the right of it?
Is it Kevin?
How about grandpa?
Or are both of them missing the mark?
Now in many ways it’s apples and oranges. Kevin thinks one thing is being discussed and grandpa thinks its another. They aren’t really having the same conversation.
But if Jesus is the way, and he is going to prepare it, then I suppose heaven is the focus. Which makes grandpa partially correct, heaven should be our goal. What heaven is, what it looks like is up for debate and discussion. Scripture gives us clues, but nothing definitive. What we do know is that we will be with Jesus. We will have followed in his way.
For me the focus rests in the statement Jesus makes, “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.” What are these greater works? Angela Parker describes them as such, “Our greater works must exhibit the way, the truth, and the life for communities that continue to be disconnected and denied access to all of the areas that can bring abundant life such as quality food, access to medical care, affordable housing, and continued dignity no matter what their identities are. That is the way, the truth, and the life for a collective people with a singular heart.” (Angela Parker – https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/fifth-sunday-of-easter/commentary-on-john-141-14-6)
Further, our greater works must be situated in grace and led by the Holy Spirit. In order, that as we lead in this spirit of grace, that all would be comforted, none would be troubled as we follow Jesus on the Way. Amen.
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St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Cobourg is part of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The congregation was established in 1833 and continues to serve the community.
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