Cruce Tectum

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

Location: Moscow, Idaho

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Fifth Sunday of Easter (A)

May 18, 2014
Text: John 14:1-14

He is risen!  He is risen, indeed!  Alleluia!
            We call it the scandal of particularity, what Jesus says in the Holy Gospel this morning.  It is a verse beloved by many, but those same people, maybe even you, are horrified when you stop to think about what the verse actually says: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6; ESV).  This is not the touchy-feely verse we so often think it is.  Jesus is saying He’s the only way of salvation, the only way to eternal life, the only way to heaven.  No one comes to the Father except through Him.  He’s the Truth, the Truth by which the truthfulness of everything else is measured.  And He is the Life, for outside of Him there is only death and condemnation in hell.  Do you hear how politically incorrect all of this is?  The scandal of particularity, a scandal because Jesus, this Jesus in particular, the Jesus proclaimed in the Bible, is the only way, the only truth, the only life, by which you come to the Father.  He’s the only true God, with the Father, and the Holy Spirit.  All roads do not lead to the same place.  Jesus is it.  He leads to life.  All other roads lead to death.  And if that bothers you, remember, Jesus is the One who said it.  If you have a problem with that, your problem is with Jesus Christ.  Repent. 
            But also rejoice, because here Jesus has told you the way to the Father, the way to eternal life.  It is Himself.  You don’t have to guess.  You don’t have to try this road, than that road, this truth, then that truth, making your best educated conjecture about which is the right one when your eternal destiny is on the line.  Stick with Jesus and you have it.  You don’t have to work for it.  You cannot earn it.  Jesus gives it to you freely, this eternal life, by His suffering, death, and resurrection, handed over to you in His Word and Holy Sacraments.  You want to go to the Father, to the Father’s House in which there are many rooms, and a place prepared especially for you?  You know the way.  Follow Jesus.  He’s the way.
            Now, Philip wanted just a little glimpse of the Father, and that would be enough for him.  Then he could know for certain that Jesus is speaking the truth.  We often want the same thing, just a little glimpse, some evidence that all of this is true.  Show us heaven.  Show us the Father.  That’s why books and movies like Heaven is for Real are so popular.  Now, I know some of you recently enjoyed that particular movie, and that’s fine, but I do want you to understand something.  Your comfort and assurance do not come from the subjective experiences of people who have had near death experiences, who may or may not have seen heaven, and who certainly have filtered their experiences through their own fallen reason and worldview, not to mention erroneous theology.  And certainly your comfort and assurance are not to come from dramatized versions of those subjective experiences in movies.  What you’re wanting out of a movie like that is what Philip wanted.  Just a little glimpse.  Just a little evidence.  As if Jesus and His Word, which is Truth, is not enough.  What does Jesus say to Philip?  “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip?” (v. 9).  “Well, that’s Philip,” you say.  “He got to see Jesus with his own eyes.”  True enough.  But you get to hear Jesus with your own ears in His holy Word.  You get to touch His Body and Blood in the Supper, eat it and drink it, that same Body that was crucified for you, that same Blood poured out for you, His resurrection Body and Blood now coursing through your veins.  And you have His promise that wherever two or three of you are gathered, there He is in the midst of you (Matt. 18:20).  You have His promise that He is with you always, to the very end of the age (Matt. 28:20).  So has He been with you so long and still you do not know Him, not so well anyway that you don’t have to seek comfort and assurance from those who have allegedly “been there”?  Come on, beloved!  Jesus is here right now, for you, and He’s telling you that you don’t need that when you have Him!  Because if you’ve seen Him, you’ve seen the Father!  And you have.  You’ve seen Him with your ears.  You’ve seen Him with your tongues.  You’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good (Ps. 34:8).  And so you’ve seen the Father.  You know the Father.  You know Him in His Son Jesus.  You get all your comfort and assurance right here in the Father’s House, where He gives you Jesus.  “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works” (John 14:10).  The words of Jesus are the words of the Father.  Hearing Jesus, you hear the Father.  If you know Jesus, you know the Father.  When Jesus comes to you, the Father comes to you, and you have eternal life and a place in the Father’s House, at the Father’s Table.
            Jesus says He goes to prepare a place for you (vv. 2-3), a place in the Father’s House.  He’s not talking about doing renovations to your room somewhere up there in heaven, though He does use wood and nails to accomplish His preparations.  He’s talking about the cross.  That is where He does the work.  He takes the nails, the wood, up onto the mountain, to be nailed there, to suffer and bleed there, to die there, so that you have a place in the Father’s House.  Sinners cannot live in the Father’s House.  Sinners cannot live in the presence of God’s holiness.  That’s a big problem for us who just confessed ourselves to be poor miserable sinners.  And that’s why Jesus is the only way to the Father and to eternal life.  He takes our sin away.  He does it to death on the cross.  He buries it in the tomb forever.  He washes us clean with His blood in Baptism.  He declares us righteous in His Absolution.  So even though we still sin and we’re still sinners for the moment, now in this earthly life, our old sinful nature is daily put to death in Baptism, daily crucified in repentance, along with all sin and evil desires, and our new self in Christ Jesus is daily brought forth to new life by the power of Christ’s resurrection.  As a result, the Father does not look at you as the sinner that you are.  He looks at you and sees you covered in the righteousness and holiness of His Son Jesus.  You are clothed with Jesus.  God looks at you and sees His Son, and calls you sons and daughters, and gives you the place Jesus prepared for you in His death and resurrection. 
            It is not only a place for your soul in heaven when you die, though it is that.  It is also and especially a place in the new heavens and the new earth, in your body, on the Day of Resurrection.  But it is not only a future place.  It is a place right here and now in the Body of Christ that is the Holy Church.  It is a place right here and now around the Lord’s Altar, the Christian family Table.  You are, after all, named with God’s Name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Baptism means you are God’s own child.  That makes the place Jesus has prepared for you in the Father’s House a present reality.  You have a place where you belong.  Right here.  Right now.  The place Jesus has prepared for you by His death and resurrection.
            And because that is the case, “Let not your hearts be troubled” (v. 1).  Believe in the Father.  Believe in Jesus.  For when you believe in Jesus, you believe in the Father.  You can’t have one without the other.  And be comforted.  Even when being a Christian is hard.  Even when being a Christian is scandalous.  It is, you know.  There is the scandal of particularity that Jesus preaches this morning, that He is the only way of salvation, the only way to the Father, that our Triune God is the only true God.  Then there are the scandalous things you believe because the Bible teaches them, things that the culture rejects, like marriage between one man and one woman for life, like sexuality being reserved for the holy estate of marriage, like life being sacred from conception to natural death, something only God can give and only God should take away.  Being a Christian is scandalous.  You may lose friends over this.  You may suffer family strife over this (Jesus said it would happen – Matt. 10:34-39).  You may suffer the loss of your possessions, your freedom, your life.  So be it.  Let not your heart be troubled.  Jesus has prepared a place for you that no one can take away.  It is the Father’s House.  And Jesus is the way.  Believe in Him and you have it.  Take your comfort and assurance from Him alone.  You don’t need to see it to believe it.  You have Jesus’ Word on it.  You have Jesus’ Body and Blood on it.  And in having Jesus in His Word and Body and Blood, you have the Father.  And in having the Father and the Son you have the Holy Spirit who proceeds from them.  You have the one God, who lives and reigns to all eternity, the God who has written His Name on you: The Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  He is risen!  He is risen, indeed!  Alleluia!         


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