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Easter 5 Year C  : John 14:1-14

Democrats in the United States have a problem about who to support, because the policies of Hillary Clinton and Barack  Obama and very similar., http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24063721.

So they have to resort to differences in character and personality.

Why should we trust in Jesus? Because of who He is, what He has done, and what He can promise with certainty.

He can promise a place in heaven. He has prepared a place in heaven for those who follow Him, v.2.

He is the only way to follow. His example, which was perfect. His teaching because it is memorable, practical and true. We are to follow His death and resurrection, dying to our old selves, rising to new life.

He is the truth. We can trust Him because He is true and speaks the truth, contra the Democratic Elections, e.g. Hillary Clinton's claims that she had been exposed to sniper fire in Bosnia in 1996.

We can and should trust in Jesus' words about salvation and who He is, and obey His teaching.

From verse 10 Jesus claims equality with God the Father. He says that if they can't believe his words this is backed up by the miracles he did.

He is the life. Next day his lifeless corpse would be taken from the cross. Three days later people began to encounter the risen Jesus. In forty days over 500 people saw the resurrected Jesus, 1 Cor. 15.

Jesus is alive. Jesus gives life who make him their way and their truth.

Last week we saw how Jesus gives abundant life, John 10:10. He gives eternal life. A quality of life, lived in a right relationship with God. A quantity of life, it lasts forever.

Jesus promises that his followers will do even greater miracles than he did. What can He mean? How can you beat raising someone from the dead or feeding thousands from a packed lunch? So, Jesus was clearly not talking about the wow factor.

Because Jesus disciples were and are numerous they were and are able to have a more widespread effect that He did during His earthly ministry. The greater thing that the disciples did, and that we disciples can do, is to spread the good news of Jesus . Three thousand people came to faith on the first Pentecost, Acts 2. What a miracle.

Every time one person comes to faith in Jesus it is a stupendous miracle. When someone makes Him their way, their truth their life it is fantastic. I have had the joy of seeing people come to faith and being transformed by their relationship with Jesus.

We all have something to contribute to that process. We can pray for people to trust in Jesus. We can pray that some one will be able to help them on the way. We can pray that we can help in some way. Even if we feel weak and inadequate God can give us the strength, the encouragement the words that we need to help people to trust in Jesus.

We can do great things by spreading the good news of Jesus in our prayers, our actions, and, even, our words!

Pray for people-

Who want to trust in Jesus.

Who want to help others trust in Jesus.

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Do It Yourself has been making the news recently. Nationally the television news carried stories that we were approaching the start of the Do It Yourself season, and the launch of a government safety initiative. Locally the Sentinel carried the story of the owner of a D.I.Y. store who objected to having his store closed on Easter Monday.

The Do It Yourself mindset extends to religion today. The theory is that if you believe in something sincerely then that is all that matters. But there have been D.I.Y enthusiasts who have drilled into what they thought was plaster and they have drilled through water pipes or electric cables. This has resulted in flooded homes, and electric shocks.

In today's gospel Jesus warns against D.I.Y. religion and claims exclusive access to God the Father. He says that his disciples should put their trust in God and in him, verse 1. Jesus is trying to reassure his disciples who were feeling insecure, shocked, and upset. They were insecure because after leaving their homes, families and jobs and following Jesus for three years he had told them that he was going to leave them ( 13:33,36 ). They were shocked and upset because Jesus had told them that one of them would betray him ( 13:21 ). Not only that but Peter was going to disown him three times before daybreak ( 13:38 ). Peter was the leader of the disciples, headstrong and brave. If he was going to deny Jesus three times then what terrible thing would prompt such a thing ? And how would the rest of them behave if Peter did this ?

So Jesus says - READ verse 1. He is telling the troubled disciples to keep on trusting in God and in himself. He is claiming equality and closeness with God. Something that is repeated in verse 7.

So we are to keep on trusting God and Jesus whatever may happen to us. When difficulties come some people may turn away from the Christian faith. Yet the Bible teaches us that true faith endures. That is how we know it is true faith. Jesus says to those of us who are facing difficulties today "Trust in God and trust in me."

Jesus goes on to say that he is going to prepare a place for his disciples before returning for them, verses 2 & 3. What does he mean by this ?

In the Middle East at this time the extended family would all live on the one site. Sons and daughters would have apartments that were separate from their parents, yet under the same roof.

Jesus uses this image when he says that there are many rooms in his Father's house. He is saying that there is plenty of room in heaven. So we shouldn't be scared of sharing the gospel for fear that it will get crowded !

Jesus is saying that he has to go to do this, a journey that will involve the cross and resurrection.

He is confident that his disciples will arrive in heaven. A confidence that doesn't derive from their own strengths or abilities. After all Peter would deny Jesus three times. Jesus' confidence was in his power working through and despite their weaknesses and failures. So Jesus leaving is actually to the advantage of his disciples, even though they would not immediately appreciate this.

Verse 3 is ambiguous. Jesus' return could refer to his resurrection and the way that this would place his disciples into God's presence. Because heaven is being with God and we can be with God now through what Jesus has done for us. It could also refer to the time when Jesus will return on the clouds, with angels, in power and glory to take those who are his to be with God the Father. I think both of these explanations can be held at the same time.

Read verse 4. Jesus has been teaching his disciples for three years. Preparing them for this moment. Surely they understand. But Jesus had been talking using figures of speech. When Simon Peter had asked his where he was going in 13:36 he had not directly answered the question, although in 14:2 he had said that he was going to his Father's house.

In steps Thomas. He is honest, uninhibited. There is no pretence with him. He doesn't care if he appears to be stupid. He wants the answer spelled out to him.

Read verse 5.

There is a shift in the conversation here. Previously it had been about Jesus leaving the disciples. In verses 6 & 7 it shifts to how they can go to God. Everything centres on the person and work of Jesus. Not on a religious formulae or rules in which we work our way towards God in our own strength. God has come to us. Revealed himself to us in Jesus. Enables us to respond to that revelation by his Holy Spirit.

It is about revelation response and relationship. Not rules and regulations.

Jesus said "I am the way".

Jesus way was to involve him going to the shame and pain of the cross the next day. This is the glory that Jesus refers to in 13:31 & 32. The glory or self disclosure of God is seen on a cross. It was a way though death to emerge victorious and alive.

As we follow Jesus our way will have disappointments and setbacks. Yet if we remain in Jesus. Trusting him and God then we know that it will be a way to victory and life.

About thirteen years ago we went to Italy on holiday. One day we went on a trip to Venice. There were many parties of people being shown around by guides and our guide had a multi-coloured umbrella that she held aloft so that we would be able to follow her and not get lost.

Before they were called Christians the first followers of Jesus were called people of the way. Like the guide in Venice those who follow must be going somewhere and following someone. Therefore Christians are those who follow the way of Jesus. Knowing and obeying his teaching. Trying to imitate him.

But Jesus is more than just a way to follow. He not only reveals the way but he is the way. He is the way in that he links God and man. It is only when we unite ourselves with him that he can truly become our way. It is about a relationship that is the way as well as the way to follow.

Note that Jesus says "I am the way". He then says "No-one comes to the father except through me." v6b. He is making an exclusive claim. There is no other way to God.

If we want to go to Stafford from here there are a number of routes that we could take. We could join the motorway and go that way. Or we could follow the A34 South. There is no route that is particularly correct. Each may have it's own virtues depending on the time when one travelled, and if speed, distance travelled, or views of the countryside were priorities.

Pilate said to Jesus "What is truth" as if it was something that was uncertain. We live in a society where many think that it doesn't matter what you believe as long as you believe it sincerely. Yet if I sincerely believed I could get to Stafford travelling North I would be wrong. That is unless I completed a very long journey over the North Pole !

So Jesus claims about himself are exclusive and centred on himself and his relationship with God.

Jesus says that he is the truth. This is in contrast to the lies of those who had him crucified. It is in contrast with Satan who is the father of all lies.

Jesus whole life is founded on truth. He never told a lie. He produces truth in those who truly follow him. If we are in Jesus we shouldn't lie. And we shouldn't need to lie because our security is in our relationship with him. Not in what we fabricate or cover up.

Truth not only involves imparting truth but also being trustworthy and faithful. John's gospel uses the word truth 39 times. This compares to twice in Matthew, four times in Mark and three times in Luke. At the start on his gospel John declares that Jesus is full of grace and truth ( 1:14 ) and that "grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" verse 17. So Jesus is the full of truth and the source of truth. This truth is not merely his teaching but it is about God revealing himself. Therefore, responding to him is more than an intellectual belief in his teaching. It is embracing his whole person. Jesus' truth is more than a truth to believe. It is rooted in the reliability of Jesus.

Jesus said that he is the life. This contrasts with the death he suffered the next day on the cross. Through his resurrection Jesus shows that he is not subject to death, but has made death subject to himself. Jesus has the power to give life.

Physical life : "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made" ( John 1:3 ).

Spiritual life : "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." ( John 17:3 ). This is part of Jesus prayer for his disciples later that night. he is talking about a quality of life. Not just existing.

For many people life is about existing. Carrying on. Keeping going. But Jesus says that there is so much more to life if we live it with him and in him. We can enjoy a life lived with God today. We can have our present and our future rooted in heaven.

So Jesus is the life. More than a life to be received but a quality of life to be lived.

Someone recently came up to me and expressed a confidence in a life beyond death. There was a sense in which this belief was a Christian one and this person was looking to me to affirm this. I said I believed that when someone dies who has been a follower of Jesus then they go to be with him. Yet I believe that whilst many people have this view of life after death they have a watered down idea of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. They do not realise the radical nature of what it means to follow him. Either that, or they do, and chose to ignore it. They want to receive the life that only Jesus can give, but without living it.

David Watson, the evangelist, on the eve of his tragic death in 1984 said : 'The church is the only society on earth that never loses a member through death ! As a Christian I believe not just in life after death, but in life through death.'

As a clergyman I am sometimes asked to sign papers to declare that I know people, for example on Passport Applications. I am always happy to do this when I can, but sometimes I receive more unusual requests. For example I have been asked to sign an Application Form for a Gun Licence by someone who I did not know. They said that they knew Jack Holt as if this would make it O.K.!

Read verse 7. Jesus declares that if we really know him then we know God too. If we want to know what God is like then we should look at Jesus. Jesus says this to Philip in verse 9 after Philip has asked him to show us the Father. Jesus reveals God to us. He is the way to knowing God.

The disciples had been with Jesus for three years but the inference is that up to now they had not fully appreciated who he is. It had been a period of preparation. But this time is a watershed in their relationship with him. The word for "know" here is an intimate, personal one, rather than an intellectual or theoretical knowledge. This is the relationship that he wants everyone to have with him. Not a knowledge of him from a distance. Only when we have this close relationship with Jesus can we know his peace and security in troubled times. Only when we have this close relationship with Jesus can we know God personally today and have the confident hope that Jesus has prepared a place for us in heaven.

One of the things that Boy Scouts do, or used to do, is to lay a trail for others to follow. One of the signs used in this is a dot in a circle. This means 'gone home'. It was sometimes used by scouts who had got bored and didn't want to play any more.

If you look on the tomb of Lord Baden Powell, the founder of the Scout Movement you will find a dot inside a circle. Proclaiming that he has gone home.

Death is neither an end or a beginning. It is the continuation of a chosen road. We may join the road in different ways and at different times, but it is only one leading to God.

Lord Jesus, thank you for the eternal home that you have prepared for us.

Thank you for your promise to come and take us to be with yourself.

Help us to know you, to love you, and to follow you all the days of my life.

For your name's sake. Amen.