2016-05-01 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato – First Baptist Church Edmonton
Easter 6 Sermon, 2016
“Jesus is not enough?”
“Do not let your hearts be troubled…BELIEVE in God, Believe also in me.”
Can he hear the racing of my heart? wonders Thomas.
“I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, you know the place where I am going.”
>> Thomas pleads….Lord, we do not know where you are going…which is the precisely the problem…you talk in mysteries and strange stories….How can we know the way?
“I AM…. Way ….. Truth… Life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will also know my Father.
Philip pushes his way into the conversation…
>> “Lord, [just] show US the Father, and we’ll be satisfied.”
“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 me 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 work….
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.”
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you ANOTHER ADVOCATE [ENCOURAGER] to be with you FOREVER.
This is the Spirit of truth…You know the Spirit, because the Spirit abides with you, and will be in you.
I will not leave you orphaned…or friendless…
They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me;
and those who love me will be loved by my Father,
And I will love them and REVEAL myself to them.”
>>> Jude interjects his quandary into the dialogue…
“Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us but not to the whole world?”
“Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me….does not keep my words; and the word that you are hearing from me is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.
I have said these things to you while I AM…still with you. But the ENCOURAGER…the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
that person will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.
Peace…I am bequeathing to you;
My peace I am giving to you;
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
* * * * *
Oh to be a fly on the wall of the upper room during Jesus’ last meal and conversation with his disciples…
But wait! Be ye glad! The Beloved disciple and his community of friends have written it down for us…probably 50 years after it all happened…and this is what they recall and remember…
Troubled hearts. Distress. Discouragment. Desperate Questions. Fear.
The disciples wonder what might happen next in this dangerous journey of giving up their livelihoods to follow this vagabond teacher.
[Is life in 80 CE so different from discipleship in 2016 CE?]
Are we not a people of troubled hearts & desperate questions?
Where might we find our place in today’s story?
We’ve got 3 characters who help us enter in to the story…
THOMAS – –
“Lord, I don’t know where you’re going with this…How can I know the way?”
Any of us, wondering about the way today? God help me find my way?
Where is truth? Where is life?
Jesus says… “I AM.” [The way to life is not a proposition…but a person]
Or maybe you’re more of a “show up OR shut up” kind of person. PHILIP.
“Jesus, show me the Father! This perfect, loving Father-figure who you say so much about…show him to me and I will be satisfied…and Lo’ I will follow you joyfully and fervently for the rest of my days!”
Jesus says… “Believe! Whoever has seen me, has seen the Father. Do you not believe that I AM…? I AM…in the Father and the Father is in me.
Or how about our 3rd character…JUDE (not to be confused with the betrayer Judas)…
Jude’s more of a “Why me and not the rest of the world” kind of guy. If I’m going to believe, then everyone else better have to be pushed to make a decision on this whole Jesus thing as well…fair enough?
Jesus says: “Love me. Don’t waste your worry on “them.” Keep my word.
My Father will love you…I will love you…my Father will make his home in your life…in fact, I will be there too…WE will make our home in your life!
We are going to take UP a lifetime of space in your life, so don’t get too worried about how we will love the rest of the world…we’ve got it covered!”
[Jesus sings in the voice of the “royal we”…..We’ve got the whole world…in our hands]
* * * * *
Thomas? Philip? Jude?
Tonya? Philomena? Judy?
Are our hearts troubled as disciples who follow Jesus?
You’ve heard me say it before…an ancient quote that goes like so…
Be kind. Everyone you meet is in the midst of a great struggle.
Jesus knew this and presented (and presents) himself as good news for a people in world full of hurt.
You’ve got struggles? You’ve got troubles?
Believe in me.
Love me and make space in your life to be Loved…so that you might love one another.
And the surprising and “forever encouraging” promise of today’s conversation with Jesus is that…Jesus admits that HE is not enough! In fact, God the Father + Jesus are not enough! Jesus tells us that there will be another ADVOCATE [in the greek, it’s Paraclete] (another one who comes alongside)….and this time it won’t be for just 3 years…this time it’s forever.
And thus for 2000 years we Christians don’t talk of BINITY…but TRINITY.
We receive “empowerment” from on high…from a triune God who lives and moves amongst us as a community of love, grace and power.
Jesus promises: THE ENCOURAGER [the one who comes alongside]…the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
That Person will teach you everything [you ever need to know],
And will [do this] by reminding you of everything I ever said to you…
I leave with you.
My peace…I give to you.
I am giving it in a way the world does not give.
Set your troubled hearts at rest; do not be afraid.
Rah rah rah! The Holy Spirit!
Theologian Dale Bruner names Jesus’ Holy Spirit as the
“Forever Encouraging Friend.”
You’ve heard of BFF…make room for FEF.
Jesus, enlivened in our lives by the Holy Spirit as our FEF…imagine that.
*** pause ***
It’s good news. It’s intimate news. It’s a consoling image for our oft’ desolated hearts.
And our lives, filled by the indwelling presence of God, are to overflow in blessing to the world.
As Bruner reflects on the outward journey of having a FEF, he reminds us of our mission as the new people of God…
“Through Jesus’ Spirit – – as FEF – – we 21st C readers/hearers of the Gospel know OUR main mission in life. As the latest in a glorious chain of witnesses, we believe Jesus as Lord and LOVE his fellowship of believers and so go out with them in LOVE & SERVICE to the people whom the Father so deeply loves in the whole wide world.”
– – The Service of the Church in the world…begins again this week…
And today, on Communion Sunday, we also gather to get fed up and filled up.
So come troubled disciples, be consoled, fed and filled by the presence of Christ who ministers to us as the Forever Encouraging Friend…
Jesus is giving us peace in a way that the world does not give,
Let us eat, Let us drink – – let the “feast of peace” begin!