Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.” (John 14:1-14)
Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.”
During these challenging times, I am grateful that, right from the start, Jesus acknowledges my troubled heart. For me, my heart feels that there is an uncertainty, a restlessness, a longing to get a glimpse, to get a grasp on the rapidly-changing reality surrounding me. My heart is troubled. What about yours?
“Do not let your hearts be troubled... In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?”
In the Gospel of John, Jesus talks to his friends the night before he is crucified. Death is all around. Passover recalls a deliverance from death. Death from plague. Death from tyranny. Death from slavery. The death of everything robbing a person of their God-given dignity. It is the Passover Supper. Death passes over the people of Israel but enters through the doors and windows of the Egyptians, taking their families and their lives. God held the Egyptians accountable for their prejudices against the other, for their lack of concern and care for the people of God, and for their inability to see beyond their economic privileges, which contributed to the enslavement of another.
Jesus is celebrating all of this with his friends in the Upper Room. It is the Passover of the Lord. The night we commemorate during Holy Week on Maundy Thursday, the night when Jesus tells his disciples to love and serve one another, the night when Jesus comforts us, promising us that we never walk alone. He is with us, preparing the way.
But even knowing all this, even remembering all of this, my heart is still troubled. What about yours? Thank God Thomas speaks up! “Jesus, we do not know where you are going. Show us the way.”
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, in his book Being Human, shares this, “Jesus has gone before us into the darkest places of human reality. He has picked up the sounds that he hears. And think of what those sounds are: the quiet cries of the abused child; the despairing tears of a refugee, of a woman in the Middle East, surrounded and threatened by different kinds of mindless violence; the fear of a man watching a flood or hurricane destroying his family's livelihood. Jesus picks up the cry of the hungry and the forgotten. He hears the human beings that nobody else hears. And he calls to us to say, 'You listen too.’”
Maybe I can find my way if I can focus, stay present, manage my anxiety, let go of insecurity, and rely on my faith. It is hard to listen. Do I have the ability, the willpower, the discipline to listen like Jesus? This is easier said than done. I hear the apostle Paul’s own prayers and challenges echoing in my head, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. . . Who will rescue me from this body of death? Who will walk with me and show me the way? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
But I have to find a way to be present. I have to focus. And I have to say “yes.”
As Jesus invites us to focus, Jesus shares his expectations of us. Jesus says, “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these.”
“In fact, will do greater works than these.”
What works am I called to do? What works are you called to do?
Jesus has high expectations of us. This night in the Upper Room, this night of the Passover, is the great hand-off. Jesus is preparing for his death. As he prepares to die, Jesus commissions us to continue his ministry. Jesus invites us to be his hands and heart in the world, to take on his nature, not by placing our scars onto someone else, but by connecting and caring for each other. We are to model our lives on the good shepherd so that our lives of service to the world as Christians surpasses the works of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
This is a tall order. But Jesus’ expectations are clear. There are no assumptions here. No second guessing. No mystery. “In fact, you will do greater works than these.” No wonder Church attendance numbers are declining. This is a tall order. And where do we begin? It means, somehow, I need to get my life in order so that I can do the work God has given me to do.
I can’t speak for you, but sometimes just getting myself in order is an impossible task. So I’ll get to life under God tomorrow. Not today! And one day leads to another, which leads to another, which leads to another, and nothing has changed.
“Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these.”
Peter graciously reminds us, “You are chosen, a royal priesthood, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of GOD who calls you out of darkness into marvelous light.” Jesus has been, is now, and forever will be, walking with us. And, even though my heart is troubled, I pray I will take a moment to breathe and remember that. That’s why we come here. We come to be fed and to focus. We worship together to give thanks for all that God has blessed us with. We hear God’s holy story, declare our faith, and pray for each other. Then, we gather around this table to break bread and drink wine to remember Jesus as he asked us to. Finally, we are blessed and then dismissed to go out into the world and do greater works than Jesus.
Feed. Heal. Where there is death, bring life. Where hopelessness has set in, bring hope. Wherever we go, we go to love and serve the Lord!
Rachel Held Evans offers these words of encouragement, “Despite what the world might have you believe, love isn’t weak. Love has the toughness to endure even amidst the worst of humanity. Love has the strength to survive even the ugliest of bigotry, even the most murderous hatreds. Love has the resilience to rise again, even when the world has declared it dead. And this love is what you and I were made for, even if it seems so very far away.”
With this love, we can move boldly throughout the world, confident that, with God’s help, we can do greater things than him who leads the way
Williams, Rowan. Being Human: Bodies, Minds. Persons. (pg. 110.) Eerddmans.
Evans, Rachel Held; Chu, Jeff. Wholehearted Faith (p. 172). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
We could use more love and the strength that comes with it in this world today.