It was remarkable, the way Bill and Joanne approached their surgery. Both were having the same operation: Knee replacement. But each of them approached it in a different way.
Bill wanted to know all the details. He read up on the surgery and consulted with his physician. He investigated the manufacturer of the knee replacement parts, tuned into YouTube and watched videos of the operation. He knew how it was going to be done and that knowledge gave him some sense of comfort, perhaps even control.
Joanne was different. She did not know the details of the operation. She simply knew her doctor. She trusted her to recommend a surgeon. What the doctor and the surgeon said was enough. Now, she simply waited in trust.
Obviously, when it comes to how you handle your health care, either approach is appropriate. Some people want details, so they are well-informed. Others would rather not know and, instead, put their trust in their doctors. Either way is appropriate as we approach our health care, but what about when we approach our God?
In our gospel reading, Jesus addresses His disciples. He has spoken of a frightening future, His betrayal, Peter’s denial, troubled times, and now His disciples reasonably have questions. Peter wants to know where Jesus is going (13:26). When Jesus replies in a way that is less than specific, Thomas argues that, if they do not know where Jesus is going, they will never know the way (14:5). For these disciples, there is comfort in the details. Faced with a problematic future, they want more than promises. They want times and places. They would like a clear set of directions so they know how to navigate whatever might come.
Jesus, however, simply offers them a promise and His presence.
His promise is He is working on their behalf. Without giving explicit details, He says He is preparing a place for them and promises to come back and take them to Himself. When pressed further, Jesus moves from this promise to His presence. He says to Thomas, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (14:6). Jesus sees His disciples facing future uncertainty and responds not with details about dates and times and procedures to follow, but with His promise and His presence. He is the way, the truth, and the life.
They may not know where they are going, but, as long as they are with Jesus, they know they are on the way. With His promises to comfort them and His presence to guide them, they can face the uncertain future. “Let not your hearts be troubled,” Jesus says. “Believe in God; believe also in Me” (14:1).
Today, our Lord still invites us to live in trust.
Viral pandemics create uncertainty. We are not sure where we are in the timeline as the virus unfolds. We are not sure how we can recover from the suffering. The way forward is hard. We want some assurance of where we are going, how we will get there, precisely what will happen along the way.
But, today, Jesus answers our prayers not with specific details. Instead, He calls us to a life of trust. He is the way, and the truth, and the life. Whatever happens, He is there with you.
In His death and resurrection, He has shown you the depth of His love. In His ascension into Heaven, He has shown you the breadth of His rule. While you may not know what is going to happen, you do know where you are – in the hands of a God who loves. Out of love Jesus came for you, died for you, rose for you, rules for you, and promises ultimately to return for you. His way is long enough that it leads through all suffering. His truth is clear enough that it reveals whom to trust. His life is strong enough that it brings us to a new creation. With Jesus as our way, our truth, and our life, we have enough.
Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching John 14:1-14.
Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach John 10:1-10.
Lectionary Podcast-Dr. Charles Gieschen of Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, IN walks us through John 14:1-14.