May 21, 2017

ONENESS:  JESUS WITH GOD

5/21/17

 (Sermon, "ONENESS:  JESUS WITH GOD" as Preached)

If you would prefer to listen to the following sermon, click here.

Open with "Music Player for Google Drive" or Download File

  

 (Sermon as Written)

John 14:1-14 (NIV)

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.

 

This text from the gospel of John is rich in information about our God.  Jesus is talking to his disciples that Thursday night before his arrest.  They have not reached the garden where Jesus will pray.  However, the Passover meal has been completed.  Jesus has already washed their feet and shared the bread and wine which we continue to emulate 2000 years later.  Judas has left and gone to the priests to carry out his betrayal.  Jesus is trying both to warn his disciples and to comfort them.  It is beginning to sink into their uneducated minds that Jesus intends to leave them. 

Jesus appears to be talking to them of mystical things and they are truly trying to understand him.  Jesus continues to refer to God as his father and even this seems to confuse the disciples.  In fact, these concepts often confuse people even today.  The idea of the Trinity is as much a mystery to us today as it was 2000 years ago.

The Trinity is not a definition God uses of himself in the Bible.  The idea of Trinity was not in existence until nearly 250 years after Jesus was crucified.  Why did the Trinity become a part of our theology?  What brought the notion into the gospel of Jesus Christ?  Reading our New Testament lesson today can certainly bring some understanding to the questions that began to develop in the minds of our forefathers. 

Philip opens a can of worms when he says “Show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” (14:8 NIV)  We could do an entire sermon on the phrase, “that will be enough for us.”  With humanity’s insatiable desire for undeniable evidence, I truly doubt that would have been enough.  However, the response of Jesus leads us into the beginning of the mystery of the Trinity.

Jesus answers, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?”  Jesus is clearly stating that either he is the Father or that he is an exact replica of the Father.  But just in case Philip and the other disciples miss his point, he emphasizes it not once but three more times.  Verse 10, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?  I do not speak on my own authority.  Rather, it is the Father, living in me, doing his work.” (14:10 NIV) And then again, “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”  (14:11 NIV) 

At first, the image this draws up for me is a Marvel Comic superhero.  The superhero has wonderful powers and does acts of kindness without others knowing his or her secret identity.  Then the superhero removes his mask (or puts on his glasses) and ordinary clothes and continues living a normal life.  It appears that the superhero and the alter ego are two different people, but in reality they are one.  Jesus is the every day mild mannered reporter and God the Father is Superman.

But that doesn’t work.  When Jesus is baptized, who is the voice that speaks from heaven?  When Jesus is on the cross, who is Jesus telling us has abandoned him?  When Mary met him outside the tomb on Easter morning, why would Jesus say he needed to ascend to God the Father if he is God the Father?  These questions cannot be answered if we go with the “Secret Identity” theory.   For if Superman had been crucified, Clark Kent would no longer exist.  And the world was certainly not without God the Father during Jesus’ three days of death!

The conclusion of this analysis by the ancient fathers was the beginning of trying to understand what will become known as the Trinity.  What can we discern from this passage that would aid us in our daily lives?  Should we dwell on the mystery or should we draw from Jesus’ words a useful lesson? 

Jeremiah writes, “This is what the Lord says:  ‘Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this:  that they have the understanding to know me.’”  (Jeremiah 9:23-24a NIV)  It is through the character of Jesus that we learn about the character of God.  And God wants to be known by us.  Jesus and God are one.  We do not have a cruel God of the Old Testament and a loving God in the New.  God’s character does not change.

“So, if you’ve ever wondered what the God the Father thinks about death, look at Jesus, weeping at the tomb of Lazarus.

If you’ve ever wondered what God the Father thinks about your sin, look at Jesus, dying in your place so that you might be forgiven.

If you’ve ever wondered how God the Father feels about social outcasts who are shunned by everyone in society, look at Jesus reaching out and actually touching lepers and making them clean. Look at Jesus sitting down at a meal with prostitutes, sending them on their way forgiven, full of joy, and for the first time in their lives, feeling clean.

If you’ve ever wondered how God the Father thinks about religious hypocrisy, listen to Jesus denounce the Pharisees in righteous anger.

If you’ve ever wondered what God the Father thinks about disease and paralysis and blindness and deafness, watch as Jesus heals all who are brought to him.

If you’ve ever doubted whether or not God the Father loves you, listen to Jesus [as described by the gospel writer.  “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (John 13:1 NIV)]  

If you’ve ever questioned how low God the Father might go in serving you, look at Jesus on his knees washing the filthy feet of his disciples.

If you’ve wanted to know how God the Father feels about exploiting religion for personal monetary gain, watch Jesus as he explodes in the Temple, turning over tables, and rebuking those who turned the house of prayer into a den of thieves.

If you’ve wondered what God the Father is like in the depths of his heart, look closely at the mercy of Jesus, look at his kindness and authority and power and compassion and joy and peace. Look at and listen and watch and meditate on all that Jesus is, says, and does.”  [http://www.samstorms.com/enjoying-god-blog/post/in-seeing-jesus-we-ve-seen-the-father Italics Added]

“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’?” (14:10 NIV)

Let’s pray.

___________________________________________________________