Although we are in the season of Easter, this morning we are going to focus on a conversation Jesus had with his disciples’ right before his death. He wanted his friends to know that no matter what happened, he would be with them. Jesus knew the end of the story, he knew in advance the tragic things he and his friends would experience on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Jesus also understood what would happen on Easter Sunday. Jesus’ Disciples, on the other hand, always seemed confused and troubled when Jesus tried to warn them about what would happen.
Listen to Jesus’ words are they are recorded in John, chapter 14, verses one through 14:
Proclamation of the Scripture John 14:1+14
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Here ends this reading of the Word of God for the People of God. Thanks be to God. Amen.
Let us pray: God, source of all light, by your Word you give light to the soul. Pour out on us the spirit of wisdom and understanding that our hearts and minds may be opened. Amen.
Message Enduring Witness
Good byes are very difficult. We hate them. The last time we saw our granddaughter, she climbed into our car and pretended to drive. We passed her back to her dad, who was patiently waiting next to the car. As we said our final goodbyes for the day, we could see a change come over her 2 and a half year old face, as she registered we were going to drive away. She burst into tears….she has reached the developmental stage when saying Good-bye means something.
And it does mean something. In our reading this morning, Jesus was trying to prepare his friends to say goodbye. They didn’t understand. They fought against what he was saying. They couldn’t comprehend the reality, the finality, of what Jesus was preparing for. Sometimes, we absolutely cannot comprehend these things, these goodbyes.
Like the disciples, we have to practice saying “good-bye” over and over again. When we are kids, our friends move away or change schools. We go off to college and say “good-bye” to our family and friends. Some of those friends we will remain in contact with, and others will fall by the wayside. We say “goodbye” after graduations, leaving jobs, relocating to new cities, moving to new neighborhoods, retiring. Sometimes, we are staying in the same place and others are leaving – our kids go off to college or join the military — our kids move out of the house or get married. The most difficult good-byes are the ones that feel more permanent – when we learn about a loved one entering hospice or dying in a sudden accident. These are the hardest goodbyes – even though we have hope through our faith that we will reunite with them one day, that prospect seems very far away and far off most of the time. We have to adjust to living without the people we love.
The scripture we read this morning is read at funerals. It is read at most funerals. Jesus’ words to his friends are important – Jesus is going to God to prepare a place for us. Our life here will extend to the next life, to another sphere where we will lives with God. Even when things are ending for us here on earth, they are just beginning when it comes to living with God in a better place.
Jesus wanted his friend to remember his words and be comforted by there. And, they come down to us through the ages, all the way from the first century. Jesus prepares a place for us with God in heaven. Jesus will be our touch-point – through our faith in Jesus, our eternal life is assured. Through our relationship with Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life, we have a relationship with God. Jesus will not always be present on earth with us, but Jesus gives us the tools to do work on his behalf. And, our faith in Jesus equates to faith in God.
The disciples had lots of questions for Jesus when he was here. People tell me they have a lot of questions they plan to ask Jesus when they meet him in the afterlife. But, It is important to hear in Jesus’ words that he is with us even when we can’t see him or touch him. Jesus gives us tools to live faithful lives her in this life, and Jesus makes it possible for us to be present with him and God in the next life.
When Jesus said Good-bye to his friends on his way to the cross, he wasn’t really saying Good-bye, he was saying “See you later.” And, he saw his friends again after the Easter resurrection. When Jesus said “Good-bye” to his friends before he Ascended to heaven, it was more like he was saying, “See you later” since he was going to prepare a place for them with God in heaven. He planned on reuniting with them in that place. Jesus also leaves us with a “See you later.” We know that there is no end with Jesus…. “…neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Even when we feel separated from Jesus, the separation is temporary. This is also true when people we love leave earth before we do. It may feel like we are being separated for a long time, but our separation is a temporary separation, not a permanent separation.
Jesus knows we struggle to say Good-bye. His friends struggled many years ago, and we struggle today. But, Jesus wants us to understand that even when we can’t see him, he is here. And, eventually, when we transition from this life to the next, we will go to be with Jesus in our eternal home.
Thanks be to God! Amen.