“Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me. My Father’s house has room to spare. If that weren’t the case, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you? When I go to prepare a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me so that where I am you will be too. You know the way to the place I’m going.”
Thomas asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you have really known me, you will also know the Father. From now on you know him and have seen him.”
“Haven’t you watched that already,” my wife asked as she came into the living room.
“Yes, but Marty hasn’t. Besides, it’s one of my favorite episodes of Doctor Who,” I said grinning from ear to ear like the Cheshire Cat from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
That’s kind of how I feel about this passage. Not that it’s one of my favorites, but it seems that the creators of the lectionary really like it and want to make sure people read it. For those of you who missed it, we just read this passage a week ago on Monday, 1 April. I suppose the thought is, if you only read the Daily Lectionary passages each week, they want make sure you get this one!
As we said there, this passage is used quite a lot to show that following Jesus is the only way to heaven. But that’s not really what Jesus said. Jesus isn’t as dualistic as we are. Heaven’s not even in the passage. I mean, I get it. People automatically assume that “heaven” is where G_d lives. But that place - that space or dimension - is not a long way away from here. In fact, it infuses all of creation and is only separated by a thin veil.
There’s a great story from the Jewish scriptures that may help us grasp this. The kingdom of Aram was attacking Israel. They would draw up secret plans to send out raiding parties and attack Israel during the night. However, at every turn, Israel was ready for them. The king of Aram just knew he had a spy from Israel in his camp.
“Who has betrayed me and sided with Israel?” he demanded.
“No one, your Majesty,” his servant replied. “It’s the prophet Elisha. Somehow he knows what we’re planning and tell his king. He even knows the very secrets you whisper in your bedchamber.”
“I need to find out where he is so we can put a stop to this,” the king raged.
“He’s in Dothan, your Majesty.”
“Send out the troops and surround the city. Do whatever you have to, but bring me that prophet. I want him kneeling before me and begging for his life!”
Early the next morning, Elisha’s servant went out to fetch some water. He was horrified by what he saw. As far as he could see, in every direction, the city was surrounded by the Aramean army. There was no way out. Quickly, he ran back to wake Elisha.
“Master!” he called. “Master wake up! We’re surrounded! What are we going to do?”
Sitting on the edge of his bed and rubbing his eyes, Elisha said, “Don’t be afraid. We outnumber them.”
“But you don’t understand! The enemy has surrounded the city! There’s no way out!”
Elisha prayed, “Eternal One, open his eyes so that my servant may see the way things really are.”
And while the servant was looking out the window, the veil between the realms of this world was removed and he could see. Everywhere he looked, the army of G_d, with horses and chariots and warriors more than he could count, lit up the earth like the sun at midday. It looked like the entire city was ablaze with fire.
That’s what our world is actually like. The veil between this world’s realm and the Realm of G_d is as shear as gossamer. The issue is we don’t see it.
When Jesus talks about preparing a place for others, he’s not talking about traveling to a galaxy far, far away. He’s talking about making a way for others to see, to experience G_d the same way he does, now, in this life. And, there’s only one way that others can experience G_d that way. And it’s not by following the Christian religion. Besides, which version would we have to follow? The Roman Catholic way? The Eastern Orthodox way? The way of the Church of Christ? The way of the Southern Baptists? The way of the Calvinists and Reformed?
The only way to G_d is through the way of Jesus. That is, living the life he lived. Of being Christ in this world’s realm. Of giving up of ourselves for the sake of others. The Way of Jesus is not about religion. The Way of Jesus is the Way of Love. It’s loving others to the point of putting one’s own life aside for the Other.
That’s the way to G_d. That’s the only way. If we are on a route that has self-sacrificial love and life as it’s foundation, then we are on The Way.
Whatever path you follow push on till tomorrow
Love all serve all and create no sorrow
So many rivers but they all reach the sea
They telling me he’s different but I just don’t believe it
Love is the goal, yes, and everyone shall reach it
Whoever seeks it
Seen and unseen
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC