Fifth Sunday of Easter

Fifth Sunday of Easter

John 14:1-14

Jesus the Way to the Father

[Jesus said] “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

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? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

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 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.”

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our strength & our redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)


This week we have 3 young people celebrating their First Communion. This is an exciting time for them as they have been coming up for blessings, which is fine, but now they will receive the body and blood of Christ and be taking a piece of Christ with them into the world.

When I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church there was a lot of pomp and circumstance around this event. But there was also a lot of mysticism in how special it was, which I personally found rather confusing in the 2nd grade.

The priest pulled me aside one day and tried to explain why my biological mother could not come up to receive with me because she was divorced and that was not allowed. To be honest, I didn’t really understand why and it became a problem for me with the Roman Catholic Church later on, but I digress.

When asked if there was someone else in the parish that could receive with me, I immediately said my grandmother, Nana. Her name was Eileen, but I called her Nana. I was a no-brainer to me because Nana and I were very close and she was definitely more of a spiritual guide to me than my biological mother. At the time I was receiving my First Communion the abuse had begun at home and my biological mother was not high on my list of protectors.

More on the importance of communion later, but for now let’s take a look at some of our texts for today and what they have to tell us.


Stephen is certainly in trouble from just about any human point of view; he is literally on trial for his life just because he sees Jesus differently from the others of his religious tradition. With the rocks raining down upon him (the first person to be “stoned” for his Christian faith), Stephen is filled with faith, committing himself to the care of God in words that reflect Christ on the cross.

Peter continues his counsel to the young church with at least three key images:

  1. Just like a baby is nourished by the milk of the mother, so we are to be nourished by the “milk” of the word that comes from the Spirit. This is one of the ways that you “taste” the goodness of God.
  2. Jesus was a true cornerstone of faith in God, though he was rejected; we too will be reiected, but God is using us as living stones to build a spiritual home.
  3. And lastly, remember that we are chosen by God for mighty acts and the living out of your faith–we are a whole new group of God’s’ people, a wonderful new kind of priests, and part of a new nation that transcends all nationalities and all times.

The gospel contains some verses that have been used in exclusionary ways by some–Jesus as the way has too often been used to mean “Jesus does things MY way!” When Christ’s words are considered in their full context, we see that praying and working “in Jesus’ name” is all about considering just how Jesus walked in the way of God, shared and taught the truth of God, and showed what everyday life looks like when lived with God in the heart.


The scene for our Gospel reading is the Upper Room, just before Jesus is betrayed and crucified. In the earlier chapter the disciples have been rocked back on their heels by Jesus. And the disciples begin to panic – “What are we going to do without him?” Seeing their confusion and distress, Jesus (this weekend) turns to words of assurance and hope. He starts off with, “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” then talks about going to prepare a place in “my Father’s house.”

Bible scholar Tom Wright points out that the only other place Jesus uses the term

“my Father’s house,” is also in the gospel of John, in chapter two, where it refers to the temple. Wright says that, for the Jews, the temple is that place where heaven and earth meet, where people are in relationship with God. The word translated “mansions” or “rooms” or “dwelling-places” is the noun form of the verb “abide” or “stay.”

Jesus is not talking about a particular place with rooms or mansions or houses; he is promising a continued relationship with God in Christ, a relationship that begins now and continues through death and whatever comes next. Jesus’ answer to the cry of the heart “What will we do without him?” is “You won’t have to do without me-you will stay-with me in the presence of God.”

Whatever happens, we will “stay” with God in Christ. The promise is that, just as who Jesus was and what Jesus did in life continues in us in the Risen Christ-what we as people of faith are, and what we do in life, also lives in the world in the Risen Christ.

As the disciples question whether or not they know the way to the “Father’s house,” Jesus assures them that he himself is “The way, the truth and the life.” (verse 6) So how do we share our faith while remaining humble and being inclusive?

We live in a world of many “truths.” The way through this dilemma is to remember that “truth” is only one of the three things Jesus talked about. In our passion to be right, we sometimes forget the equal importance of following the “way” and living the “life.” Research in church history has proven that people are attracted to and convert to Christianity because of the way Christians live their lives; not because of powerful “truth claims” made by the church. On my ordination day Bishop Hollaway (that’s how old I am) reminded me that most people “don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” The same goes for all of us; if we want people to want to know our “truth” about the love, and grace, and forgiveness to be found in Jesus Christ; we must show them by the way we live our lives.

Jesus’ last assurance is another answer to the question, “What will we do without him?” Apparently, it is expected that without him, we will do what he did.

“Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these. I will do whatever you ask IN MY NAME ..,” (verse 12) The word “you” in this text is plural. Since English doesn’t have an official plural “you”, when it occurs in the Greek it is sometimes difficult to detect. Here and in verse 14. “If you ask me for anything, I will do it.” Jesus didn’t say “When you (the individual Christian) decide you (personally) want something, just pray for it using my name and vou (and onlv vou) will get it.” Instead, what Jesus really said is, “When you all (the church collectively) agree on something you all need in order to collectively follow my way, my truth, and my life as the body of Christ in and for the world, you all will receive it.”

What I’m getting at is this: we are not in this world alone, we are not left without hope, we do not have to “do without him,” or others. Christ is alive in the world, Christ is alive in the church, Christ works in, with, and through us, to do great and loving things for God and the world.


Which brings me back to this special occasion of First Communion. There two things that remind me of the power of Communion when it is celebrated.

  1. When we come to receive communion we are receiving it with everyone who has come before us and those who will come after us. When we profess the Apostle’s Creed and say “in the communion of Saints” we are saying that all the saints before us and after us are receiving the body and blood of Christ together. How can we ever feel that we are alone when we are surrounded by all the saints in the sacred moment.
  2. The other is things for me is that when we receive and consume the body and blood of Christ then we are taking that piece of Christ with us out into the world. We once again are reminded that we are not alone.

That Christ, and therefore God, is with us at all times in our lives and is there when we want to give praise for something, or are in fear of something also.

I see this all the time when I visiting with people and they are sharing with me their lives. No matter what the problem is, physical or emotional, when communion happens (in the Words of God and the physical bread and liquid) people are more at peace when we are finished.

The reminder of the forgiveness of our sins; the grace and mercy bestowed upon us everyday of our lives; and the support of knowing our Lord is with us and we are carrying him into the world, brings people a peace that passes all understanding…and it never gets old watching it happen!

So tomorrow/today when we celebrate with Rowan, Victor & Finlee; and we are reminded of the grace, mercy and peace and most importantly the love of God that never makes us ask the question “What will we do without him?” Because Jesus, and the saints, are never far away from us at all and we are never alone!