The passage from John 14 (1-14) for this coming Sunday is a fitting continuation of our passage from last week about Jesus being the Good Shepherd. We are the sheep who know and who trust the Shepherd’s voice. We continue to believe and to trust the voice of Jesus. But the passage from last week, also taken from John’s Gospel, states that the disciples did not understand.
Apparently they still don’t fully understand, because Thomas says, show us the way. Jesus is the way. You don’t need to know any more than this: just follow the voice of the shepherd. The sheep don’t need to know the way; they just need to follow Jesus. And again Philip says, show us the Father. But Jesus and the Father are one. Jesus is no doubt getting exasperated by all these questions.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd and Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. What more do we need to know?
Imagine if General Patton said to his troops during World War II, “Follow me,” and one of his troops asked, “Where exactly are we going?” He probably would be court-martialed! And suppose another one of his troops asked, “What does President Roosevelt say about this venture into enemy territory?” He probably would face a firing squad! General Patton would say “Don’t worry about where we are going. Just follow me. And don’t worry about what the President thinks. I and the President are one!”
But Jesus is patient with his disciples, his troops! He wants to give them a measure of comfort. So he promises, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.” Jesus is speaking of eternal life. And he is saying that there is room for everyone in God’s house.
God is like the Amish people where I went to college, in rural western Pennsylvania. New Wilmington was a quiet little college town. When I went to bed at night all I could hear was the clip-clop of the horses pulling the Amish buggies on distant country roads, far into the night. But that isn’t how God is like the Amish. I just threw that in for color commentary!
God is like the Amish because God adds an extension to his eternal home every time he needs to accommodate the growing family of God. The Amish build a one-story wood frame house for the mother and father to raise their children. When the children grow up and marry they add an extension to the home to accommodate their young family, and so on and so on sometimes for four generations. The great grandparents live in the front house and the great grandchildren live way in the back. God has a great big mansion in heaven to house millennia of his children! He just keeps adding on!
There is one other mystery that emerges from this passage in John 14. What does Jesus mean when he says that we in our discipleship will do “greater works” than Jesus himself has done? This seems preposterous that the students would surpass the teacher! How could we do greater things?
In a qualitative sense we cannot match Jesus’ purity of compassion. But in a quantitative sense we sure can! Did Jesus open any hospitals or schools? Did he found any monasteries? Did he build any churches? Did he start any sober living homes or food pantries?
We are God’s hands and feet at work for millennia to carry out the Gospel message in the name of the Christ who inspires us to worship him and to proclaim his love for the world!