Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Fifth Sunday of Easter (A)

May 22, 2011
Text: John 14:1-14

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!! Alleluia!!!

“Let not your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1; ESV). Believe in God. Believe in Jesus. There is much that troubles your heart in this fallen, sin-filled world. Your heart has been broken. You have felt abandoned. You have felt alone. And you have wondered where God is in the midst of all that troubles you. You have wondered about the way to God. In other words, doubts have plagued you. You have said to yourself, “If only… If only I had more money, if only I had a different job (or any job), if only I were younger, or older as the case may be, or retired, or had married someone else… If only (you fill in the blank), that would be sufficient for me. Then I would be set. Then I would be at peace. Then I would know God loves me.” You are not unlike the disciples in the upper room on the night Jesus was betrayed. Jesus was going away. He had clearly indicated that He would be betrayed by one of them, handed over to suffer and be crucified, and on the third day rise again. The disciples did not understand. The mood was somber. Their hearts were troubled. Jesus said to them what He also says to you this morning: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”

Jesus is the answer for your troubled heart. Now, I suppose that isn’t very surprising coming from me. The answer is patently obvious. And yet, like Thomas and Philip and the other disciples, how quickly you forget, how quickly you begin to doubt. That is why Jesus speaks His comforting and enlivening Word to you, to remind you and to give and strengthen your faith. When your heart is troubled, when it seems as though God has abandoned you, as though Jesus has gone away in spite of His promise to be with you always, to the very end of the age (Matt. 28:20), when you are in the midst of Good Friday and the Holy Cross, you need the Word of Jesus Christ, His comfort, His promises. He goes to prepare a place for you in His Father’s house, a place of heaven and of resurrection. He is coming back to get you, to take you out of this vale of tears that so troubles your heart, that you may dwell with Him and with His heavenly Father in eternal joy. In Jesus, you know the way, for He is Himself “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and in Him you come to the Father and know the Father as your Father. For in Jesus, you know that you have a gracious God. Jesus reveals the heart of the Father toward you. God loves you, wants you for Himself, and has given His only-begotten Son to die for you, that believing in Him, you may not perish, but have eternal life.

Thomas’ heart is troubled. He is afraid he does not know the way to where Jesus is going to prepare a place for him. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.’” Thomas, don’t you see? Jesus is the way, the road, the path to salvation, to heaven, to the Father’s house and the Father’s heart. He reveals Himself to you as the way to the Father, as the Word made flesh, for He is the truth, truth in the flesh. He cannot lie. Other things are true, but Jesus is the Truth! And He is the life. Because He is not just a man. He is God. And it is God’s essence to give life. All life is from God. Jesus is God and man in one person. He bestows life by His suffering and death for the forgiveness of all your sins, by His resurrection from the dead whereby He wins the victory over the grave once and for all, and He distributes this gift of life in His Word and in His Sacraments. Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. And this claim is exclusive. “No one comes to the Father except through me.” There are no other ways, no other paths of salvation. You only get to heaven through Jesus Christ. By faith alone. Not by works. Not by other gods. Not by being “a basically good person.” Christ alone. But this is good to know. Because if you have Jesus, you have salvation. And more than that, you have the truth, and you know that anything that conflicts with Jesus and His Word is not the truth. And you have life. You have eternal life. For your sins are forgiven, and Jesus has prepared a place for you in the Father’s house. Put away your politically correct notions about how these exclusive claims are so intolerant and unloving and arrogant. Those notions are not helpful. The answer to your troubled heart, and St. Thomas’ troubled heart, is Jesus: The Way, the Truth, the Life.

Philip’s heart is also troubled. Fine, Jesus, you’re the way, but just give us a little peek into the divine mysteries so that we can be assured. I mean, you’re asking us to stake our eternal lives on believing in you. “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us” (v. 8). But Philip, have you been with Jesus so long and still you don’t know Him, still you don’t understand? You’ve seen the Father… In the revelation of His heart toward you in Jesus Christ. To be sure, the Son is not the Father. They are two distinct persons in the Holy Trinity. But the Son is of one substance with the Father. They are one and the same God, along with the Holy Spirit. Three persons, one God. And Jesus is the revelation of that God’s heart, that God’s intention toward us, His creatures. If you know Jesus, you know the Father. Intimately. He is your Father, who loves you and sends His Son to rescue you and reconcile you by His suffering and death. Understand that everything Jesus does and everything Jesus speaks is by the will of the Father. The works of Jesus are the works of the Father, for the Father sent Jesus to do the works. The Words of Jesus are the Words of the Father, for the Father sent Jesus as the Word made flesh. That is why we preach Jesus, and Him crucified. Because in preaching Jesus, we preach the Father. Without Jesus, God is not your Father. He may be your Creator, but not your Father outside of Jesus. Outside of Jesus, you must deal with the naked God who, in His righteousness, cannot abide sin, who hates sin and (get ready for it, you’re not going to like this) hates sinners. And yet, in His divine wisdom and eternal will, He has decided to love sinners. This is the great mystery of God. This is grace, God’s undeserved kindness. He has decided to love you and make you His own. So He must reconcile you to Himself. He must do something about your sin. Never think that sin is something God just winks at or sweeps under the rug. If God is just, He must do something about it in justice. And He does. He sends His Son. He punishes His Son. He meets out justice on His Son. For you. In your place. And by virtue of His Son’s sin-atoning work, you are given to be sons of God, heirs of the promise, the Kingdom of God. Because by Baptism into Christ, you are God’s own child. This is why salvation is so exclusive: No one comes to the Father except by Jesus. He alone is the way, the truth, and the life. Because He alone has paid for our sins and reconciled us to the Father. God is our Father because of Jesus, the only-begotten Son of the Father. The Father works through the Son to make it so.

And if that is so, that you are a son of the Father (yes, a son, man or woman, a son, the heir, the inheritor of all of your Father’s good things), then your heart no longer need be troubled. Jesus is the answer. He has gone to the cross to prepare a place for you in the Father’s house. And now He is with you always, bringing you to that place He has prepared. You know the way. Jesus is the way. He has answered Thomas’ question, and yours. And you have seen the Father, because seeing Jesus by faith, you see the Father as your loving heavenly Father who sent His Son for you. Jesus has fulfilled Philip’s petition and yours. And whatever else there is that troubles your heart, ask the Father in Jesus’ Name, and He will answer. Ask, and you will receive. Ask, and He will do it. In His time. According to His perfect will, which is always for your good. According to His wisdom, which may seem foolishness to you at the time, but is beyond anything you could ever ask or imagine.

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God. Believe in Jesus. No more “if onlys!” Only Jesus, His Word, His body and blood, can calm your troubled heart. In Jesus, you know the Father’s heart. God is for you. And if God is for you, who or what can be against you? You have not been abandoned. You are not alone. Not even in the midst of Good Friday and the Holy Cross. Jesus is sufficient. He will never leave you or forsake you. He is here, right here and right now, speaking with you and feeding you. And He is risen! He is risen, indeed!! Alleluia!!! In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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