June 10, 2010 David Balzer

John 13:31-14:31: Coming Home

I hope you’ve all met Koffi.  Koffi and his family are originally from Togo. They fled civil war there, and ended up in Ghana. They lived in Ghana in refugee camps for years. They heard about Australia on the radio. After four years, some Australian immigration officials came to their camp, and Koffi and his family were accepted into Australia as refugees. And they’ve been in Australia for 10 months.

It’s HARD being a refugee. Feeling like you don’t fit in. There’s lots of things they’re still working out. Simple things we take for granted. Like speaking the language, swimming, visiting the doctor, even buying groceries.

I’ve taken Koffi out DRIVING. And even though he’s been driving for YEARS, there’s things about Australian roads he’s found hard to get used to. Like ROUNDABOUTS. (But I know people who’ve lived in Australia their whole LIVES who find roundabouts hard to get used to!)

It must be difficult being an ALIEN and a STRANGER. When you don’t fit in. When you belong SOMEWHERE ELSE. When everything seems foreign and different. And what others do EASILY, doesn’t come ly.

The Apostle Peter says CHRISTIANS are aliens and strangers. Exiles. Made for a different place. And so we DON’T FIT IN here. He starts off his first letter.(1 Peter 1:1)

1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, STRANGERS / IN THE WORLD,

And then he goes on to describe what it is that MAKES them strangers.

2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of god the father, through the sanctifying work of the SPIRIT, for obedience to JESUS CHRIST and sprinkling by his :

That’s a description of who were are, WHOSE we are, where we’re from, and what we’re like. We belong to GOD now, made clean by the of Jesus in our place.

And so our HOME, our NATIVE LAND is WITH HIM. At the moment, earth is only our TEMPORARY home. So we’re aliens, strangers, just passing through.

But soon, our TEMPORARY RESIDENTS VISA will expire. And we’ll GO HOME. Home to our FATHER, and home with our FAMILY. It’s the existence we were DESIGNED for. The goal of THIS life. And when we GET home, that’s where we’ll finally FIT.

So, as Jesus wants to COMFORT his disciples in these next verses. It’s no wonder he talks about COMING HOME.

Home (13:36-14:4)

It’s a topic John’s already told us Jesus has been thinking about. 13:1 Jesus knew the time had come for him to leave this world and GO TO THE FATHER. He knows he’s going home.

Have a look at how he continues the idea at the start of TODAY’S verses. 13:33.

33 “My children, I will be WITH YOU only A LITTLE LONGER. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: WHERE I AM GOING, YOU CANNOT COME.

Jesus is headed off somewhere on a trip, but the disciples can’t come. And Peter asks the obvious question, Where’s that? Jesus replies; Where I’m going you cannot follow NOW, / but you will follow LATER.

And that’s a crucial distinction to keep in mind for these next few minutes. Where Jesus goes we can’t follow NOW, but we will follow LATER. And it’s that in between time we’re living in NOW.

He’s talking about HOME. Have a look at how he puts it at the start of ch 14. They’re jaws must have dropped at the thought of Jesus going somewhere they COULDN’T, so Jesus says in v1.

14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.

TRUST me. Trust what I’m about to tell you. Yes, I’m going somewhere. Yes, it’s hard to get your heads around it. And yes, you can’t come YET. But let me tell you about it. V2.

2 In my Father’s house (MY HOME) are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 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.

God’s HOUSE is heaven, and although that’s HOME for Jesus, he’s not alone. There’s plenty of space. There’s many ROOMS. The word for “rooms” is a fairly rare one in the New Testament. (We’ll see the one other place it’s used in John in a few moments). But it comes from the verb to DWELL, or ABIDE, or REMAIN. It’s about A DWELLING PLACE. Somewhere to rest and stay. A … HOME.

And while the disciples can’t go there YET. The time in between will be when Jesus is GETTING EVERYTHING READY.

And when it’s TIME, Jesus will come and take them to himself. To be WITH HIM. Which is really what HOME is all about. Being WITH Jesus.

John Piper, in his book God IS the gospel, talks about the treasure of heaven is JESUS HIMSELF. He says that anyone who presents the good news as being about heaven, or forgiveness, or health or riches, or escaping hell, or being with loved ones, or eternal life. But doesn’t focus on admiring and enjoying Jesus isn’t preaching the GOOD news. HE’S the focus, the goal, the rich reward.

The key point Jesus is making is that HOME/ is WITH HIM.

The way home

And then he says (v4) “You know the WAY to the place where I’m going”.

He’s just said that he’ll TAKE THEM to be with him in his Father’s house. HE’S the way to get there. Thomas can’t work it out. “We don’t even know WHERE YOU’RE GOING, so how can we know THE WAY?”

So Jesus spells it out. V6.

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

They’re pretty extraordinary words. Jesus DOESN’T say, “I can SHOW you the way, I’ll point out the SIGNPOSTS. You just follow ME”. And he DOESN’T say, “I’ll TEACH you what the TRUTH IS. Show you where to FIND it. And he DOESN’T say, “I’ve discovered the elixir of life. I’ll GIVE you life.”

He says, instead, I AM the way and the truth and the life.

And he DOESN’T say. I am A way to the Father. But I am THE way. He goes on. “NO ONE can come to the Father except through me.” It’s an AUDACIOUS claim. And critics would say an insensitive and exclusivist and intolerant one as well.

NO ONE can come to the Father except through him. No one can make it to the Father ON THEIR OWN. No one qualifies on the basis of what they HAVE done, or HAVEN’T done.

And following any OTHER way won’t get you there either. No one ELSE has the answers. World religions can’t solve the problem. Following laws, or meditating, or visiting sacred places, or recycling your bottles, or reducing your carbon footprint. None of it will work.

There’s only ONE WAY. A true and living way.

The road to the Father. To the Father’s house. The road HOME. It’s not like a mountain with a dozen different tracks winding their way around. Like Rooty Hill. You can start at any point around the hill. And quite easily walk up. And everyone meets at the top. A thousand different ways.

Instead, the Father’s house is at the top of a huge mountain surrounded by smooth, sheer rock faces, thousands of metres high. No handholds, no crevices, no ladders. The only way up is if someone at the TOP lets down a rope.

The reason Jesus is the ONLY way. Is because he’s the only solution who’s COME FROM THE FATHER. Rather than coming from mankind.

It’s a road FROM THE TOP DOWN. Which is the basic difference between Christianity and every world religion. Religions are about man bridging the gap to God – which is impossible. But Christianity is about God, in the person of Jesus, bridging the gap. Letting down the rope. So we could come to him.

Jesus’ point is the disciples know the WAY to the Father’s house because they know JESUS HIMSELF.

He goes on to explain the connection between himself and the Father.

–         v7. Knowing Jesus means knowing the Father

–         v9 SEEING Jesus means seeing the Father

–         v10, 11 Jesus is IN the Father, and the Father is IN him. That’s to do with an organic, intimate, unbreakable CONNECTION.

–         V10 The WORDS Jesus speaks come from the Father.

–         And at the end of v10, the WORKS Jesus does are actually the FATHER doing his work through Jesus.

Now, in John’s gospel the works Jesus does – his miracles –are called SIGNS. Turning water into wine was called a SIGN. Healing the official’s son from a distance was A SIGN. So was feeding the 5000, and healing the blind man, and raising Lazarus.

All of them are SIGNS that POINT TOWARDS something. When Jesus does a miracle, it’s not just a party trick, and not just to help someone out. It POINTS TOWARDS THE FATHER. “This is what the Kingdom of God is like. This is what my FATHER is like. Knowing and understanding these things is how you KNOW my Father. It’s how you COME to the Father. It’s how you begin the journey of COMING HOME.”

Jesus’ WORKS are those of his Father.

And this is Jesus’ point when he says he’s the only way to the Father. If you want to know what HOME is like. What the Father’s house is like. Get to know the only one who’s BEEN there.

Gordon Moyes tells the story about growing up with his Scottish grandmother who lived with them in the family home.

“She lived in one room and we had the rest of the very small house. I loved to go into my grandmother’s room. All her photographs were on the wall. All the treasures she possessed were around her. There was a tiny fireplace and a rocking chair! She would sit and look into the fire. Over the fireplace there was an enormous portrait of Robbie Burns. A piece of heather stuck in the top of the fireplace had come from Scotland. There were pictures of moors and glens and heather-clad hills. I would crawl on to her knee and she would recite Scottish poetry. She longed for her home country, and for the heather hills. As she rocked with me she would say,

“Till all the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt with the sun,
I will love you yet, my dear,
While the sands of life do run.”

It was forty years before I visited Scotland. But I knew it. I knew the sound of it, the colour of it, and the smell of it. As I stepped onto Edinburgh Railway Station, I felt I was HOME. In a home I knew and loved, because someone who had been there before had given me the accent of its life.

And that’s what it’s like as we spend THIS life getting to know the one who’s been home. As we wait to come home, the better we know Jesus, the more AT HOME we’ll feel when we get there. Because he’s the true and living WAY. The ONLY way to come to the Father.

But that’s still IN THE FUTURE. Remember Jesus said to Peter, “Where I’m going you cannot follow NOW, but you will follow LATER”? So what are we to do in the MEANTIME? How are Jesus’ words about THE FUTURE supposed to be a comfort for the disciples who are about to be without Jesus?

Until we come home, God makes his home in us (14:16-

And Jesus’ incredible answer is that until we come home, God makes his home in us. Have a look at what Jesus says in v15.

15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- 17 the Spirit of truth.

Whoever commits to loving and obeying Jesus. Getting to know the one who is the way to the Father. God promises to send the Holy Spirit to BE WITH HIM FOREVER.

His Spirit will cause people TO LIVE. That’s v19. It’s God’s Spirit who makes someone BORN AGAIN. Who gives them ETERNAL LIFE.

And down in v26, it’s God’s Spirit who TEACHES AND GUIDES Christians.

And v27. Who gives PEACE, and the ability not to be troubled or to fear.

We’ll look more at what the Holy Spirit does in the next of weeks.

Now, the question about how the Father and Jesus and the Holy Spirit fit together isn’t easy for us to get our heads around. Christians have come up with the doctrine of THE TRINITY to explain it. It’s an idea that takes everything the Bible says, and tries to fit it all together.

The way God has described himself to us is that he consists of THREE PERSONS, but there’s only ONE GOD. Each person, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is fully God, and equal to the other persons in every way. Each one has different ROLES.

Look at how Jesus explains the connections. We’ve already heard him say that if you’ve seen HIM, you’ve seen the FATHER. And that he is in the Father, and the Father in him.

Now, in v17, he says the Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit, God himself, is WITH you, and will be IN you. Then, next verse, Jesus says, he won’t leave them as orphans, but that HE, Jesus, will COME to them. Is that TWO visits, or ONE? Somehow that’s not really explained, the Holy Spirit AND Jesus will come to the disciples.

But here’s the one that will make your head spin. Down in v23.

23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

Anyone who wants to come to the Father, who follows Jesus, the way, the truth and the life. Jesus promises that he and the Father will LOVE him, and they BOTH will come to him and make their HOME in him.

The only thing Jesus can mean is that by means of the Holy Spirit, GOD HIMSELF, the three persons of the Trinity, makes his home in the Christian.

And that word for HOME. You know what it is? The same one as back up in v2 of ch 14. In my Father’s house are many DWELLING PLACES. And until we come HOME to HIM, Jesus says God will make HIS dwelling place in US.

We can’t follow Jesus home YET, but in the meantime, God comes and makes his home IN US.

The Apostle Paul talks about the Holy Spirit as a DEPOSIT guaranteeing what’s to come. God gives his Spirit as a downpayment. “I OWN this one, he’s MINE. One day he’s coming home. But in the meantime, I’ll come home, and live with him.

God’s presence with us NOW is a foretaste, an appetiser, an entree, a shadow, a whisper of what eternity will be like THEN. Of what HOME will be like.

NOW we see poorly, like looking through frosted glass, or in a mirror. But THEN we’ll see CLEARLY, face to face.

We can’t come home yet. Instead

So…. What do we do in the meantime?

1. Get to know the Son. If he’s the way to the Father. If he’s the one who knows what home is like. The better we get to know him. The more we’ll long for home. And the more we’ll feel at home when we arrive there.

2. And as you KNOW him BETTER, you’ll LOVE HIM MORE. And as you LOVE him MORE, you’ll DO WHAT HE SAYS. 14:15

15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command.

3. And as we obey Jesus, people NOTICE. See what Jesus says about his command to LOVE ONE ANOTHER. 13:34

34 “A new command I give you: LOVE ONE ANOTHER. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 BY THIS ALL MEN WILL KNOW THAT YOU ARE MY DISCIPLES, IF YOU LOVE ONE ANOTHER.”

As we reflect the character of Jesus, as we love people humbly and sacrificially, then people see Jesus in us. As people see God’s Spirit working in us, they see something of God himself.

The church is God’s window into eternity. As people look at US. At how we behave. How we talk and work and speak and serve. They recognise something of our TRUE HOME. Of our true FATHER. They should be seeing the family resemblance.

But there’s one final area we’re to be involved in while we wait to go home. Have a look at Ch 14, v12. And if nothing’s made your head spin YET, then this might just do it. 14:12

12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing (literally WILL DO THE WORKS I DO). He will do even GREATER THINGS THAN THESE, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do WHATEVER YOU ASK IN MY NAME, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

How can we possibly do greater things than Jesus did? And then there’s what seems like the blank cheque book promise that Jesus will do WHATEVER YOU ASK. What do we do with THAT?

The clue, I suggest, is in the idea of doing the WORKS Jesus does. Remember the works Jesus does are SIGNS that POINT to what God is like, and what the Kingdom of God is like.

The OTHER clue is there at the end of v12. Christian will do greater works than Jesus BECAUSE he RETURNS TO THE FATHER.

Once Jesus returns to the Father, it means God’s plans for his life, , resurrection and ascension have all come to pass. Everything’s REVEALED. The complete salvation plan is there for all to see.

While Jesus was on earth, his signs pointed to what God was like, and what his plans were. But it wasn’t super clear. Even the disciples didn’t have much of a clue.

But after Jesus returned home, everything was clear. The SIGNS all made sense. Jesus is the KING whose wins the victory for his people. And it’s in THAT sense that the disciples can now do greater works than Jesus. With the power of his Spirit, the things they say and do POINT to God’s plans in Jesus much more clearly than Jesus could, because NOW the whole plan’s been revealed.

And it’s in THAT sense we can understand the cheque book promise. When we ask for things in his name, things that will BRING GLORY TO THE FATHER, they’ll be things that point people to Jesus as the Saviour and King. Jesus LOVES to grant those prayers. Because that’s what we’re to be doing while we wait to go home. Bringing GLORY to Father through pointing people to Jesus.

We have the Father and Son making their home in us. ONE day we’ll return HOME with them. But until then, get to know the Son, whose the way to the Father. Love, him, obey him. Do the works that POINT to him. And LONG FOR HOME.

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