“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.”
You have been baptized into Christ, therefore you are in Christ and that is the most fundamental fact of your life, more fundamental than your nationality, more fundamental than your racial identity, more fundamental even than your gender. I am not discounting gender, racial identity, or nationality, but I am saying that according to Jesus and his Apostles the fact that you are in Jesus is where life begins for us all and it is where life is moving as well. He is our Alpha and our Omega! We are in Jesus and our life together is moving upwards to Jesus and his Father. All of this is the case fundamentally because you are Abraham’s offspring. You are Abraham’s offspring not because you have exercised faith in imitation of Abraham but because you were in Abraham’s loins when God promised Abraham that he would bless the whole creation through his family. How were you in Abraham’s loins? This is how: When Nicodemus came to Jesus he assumed that he, Nicodemus, was of the seed of Abraham and therefore the inheritor of the Promise. But the first thing Jesus said to him was that in order for him, Nicodemus, to see the Kingdom that God had promised to Abraham he would have to be born again. How much clearer could Jesus make the point that being born a Jew did not make a Jew an inheritor of the Promise?The only way Nicodemus or any other human being could become a inheritor of the Promise was to be in the Seed of the Promise:
“Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” Galatians 3:16
So the logic of the Apostle Paul is not hard to follow. Jesus Christ was in Abraham when God made the promises to Abraham and therefore the promise was made to that specific seed, the promised seed, which is Jesus Christ. Therefore if you are in Christ then you are in Abraham and the whole wide universe is your inheritance. All things belong to you. Thus Paul finished his thought in Galatians 3:
“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:27-29
Jesus is my true home, my true father-land, the perfection of all ethnic identity, and the perfection of gender — Jesus is our true and final destiny. No house or home is worth indwelling that has not made itself his own habitation:
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”
At the end of chapter thirteen, after Judas strides into the darkness of Jerusalem, and the first thing Jesus says to his disciples was “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him.” The word “glorified” is built on the Greek word “doxa,” as in “doxology” which is another way of saying, “worship.” Our Lord could have said something like, “Now is my measure, my worth, revealed. Now is my honor, now, this moment my true splendor has come brightly to cover me with the Father’s approval.”And the disciples may ask, we may ask him, “How are you now covered with the glory of splendor bright?” and he would say, “I only have a few hours left. Only a little while and then the Father will cover me with glory and I shall go away. This is my glory. Where I am going you cannot come. But remember this, remember this new commandment, “Love one another in the same manner that I have loved you. This is how the world will know that you are my disciples — make your love for one another an indelible mark upon your life.
Peter wanted to go Jesus one better and declares his willingness to die for him if necessary to prove his love at which point Jesus told Peter that before daybreak he would betray him. What is worse than betrayal, the sin of Judas? Dante, reflecting the measure of his day, has Satan at the deepest part of hell encased in ice and surrounded by most infamous betrayers in human history. And at the very end of the whole Fourth Gospel the resurrected Lord will bring Peter back to this moment and once again underline the Christian duty to love one another as the chief duty of those in Holy Orders. “Do you love me Peter,” he will ask, and Peter will again pledge his love to Christ and Christ will declare to Peter three times, “then love my sheep, Peter.”
These final fews hours before our Lord’s arrest continue to play out in chapter fourteen, having assured Peter that he would certainly betray him declares to everyone in the room:
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”
John and Andrew have been following Jesus since that day the Baptist pointed him out at the Jordon and declared “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” They stayed with Jesus that first evening and they had been by his side ever since — witnesses of his mighty miracles, his loving care for the poor, the castaway, the fatally flawed. Memorizing his words like they were living scriptures. Close to three years, three years of exhilaration and sometimes bafflement, of joy and outrage, of perfect happiness and now crushing fear, helplessness, and heartbreak. This is the finality of three years. That first day by the Jordon Jesus caught them following him at a little distance and asked, “What do you want?” And they said, “Where are you going?” and he said, “Come and see,” and they did. Now three years later he has gathered them together to inform them that he was going away and they could not come with him.”
Then he told them how not to give into a heart of darkness. “Believe in God. Believe in me.” Not the quasi-syllogism as it appears in the KJV: You believe in God, therefore believe in me.” It is rather two parallel statements: “Believe in God. Believe in me.” No one ever in the history of Israel would have said, “Believe in God. Believe in me.” Belief in the God who is God and belief in Jesus the Messiah will take you through not only this dark night but the dark nights that the Church will live though as she makes her way to her destiny in Jesus.
“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
The upshot is that Jesus’ “preparation” of a place for his disciples requires that he go away for a little while. His preparation has its end in a home-coming for the children of Abraham in which Jesus the Messiah and his siblings will live in God’s perfect will her on earth just as his perfect will is done daily in heaven. Then Jesus says the most mystifying thing to his little flock:
“And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.”
Then Thomas counters Jesus:
“Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?”
Then our Lord speaks those words so well known to his loving Church:
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.”
Our finality, humanity’s finality, creation’s finality is to repose in the bosom of the Father, the very thing that Jesus is about to accomplish for us in his humanity as well as his divinity. To say that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life are not an ideal set of abstractions, but rather they are present concretely in the flesh of Jesus. And the way, the truth, and the life is manifested in the flesh of Jesus upon the Cross. The place of judgement and blessing is the flesh of Jesus and as Paul does not tire of saying, that if we were in Jesus when he was raised up from the dead, we were first in Jesus when he died on the Cross. The way to the Father for the Jesus the Messiah was the Cross and the way to the Father for us is the Cross as well.
You have been baptized into Christ, therefore you are in Christ and that is the most fundamental fact of your life. You and I participate in the way, the truth, and the fife that is the flesh of Jesus nailed and dying upon the Cross. We are in Christ, we participate in Christ, we partake of his Divinity and his true humanity, which is to participate in his suffering. We will participate in his suffering daily, as we participate in his self-sacrificing love existentially, right here, right now in the smallest of things and in the grandest of things. I see this all the time in the Church and what I know if that if I were to say to those who are living out a self-giving life that they are good examples of living a self-giving life they would say to me: “Get thee behind me Satan.” It seems that the last things they feel is self giving. And the last things they want to any attention drawn to themselves. Peter was an eye witness and participant in the events that occurred on the eve of our Lord’s crucifixion. Jesus’ suffering was not abstract and neither will our suffering be abstract. I promise you this: you will suffer if you love and follow Jesus. The way of the Cross is not an abstraction. It is bloody. Self-giving love is true sacrifice and true suffering. And it is true love and true life, and true happiness. Years later Peter wrote to the Church that was driven out of Jerusalem: