There was a Sunday school teacher who was teaching a class and thought she would try something different. Seeing as they lived in the Redlands she asked the kids “What is grey, furry, lives in trees and eats eucalyptus leaves?”
All Sunday kids sat silently, the teacher waited, then waited some more, the finally asked the child who normally answered everything. The student paused for a moment and responded… “hmmmm it sounds a lot like a koala but… Jesus?”
You see, the thing that you learn when you hang around Sunday School is that quite often, the answer IS Jesus.
They have worked out that something is about to happen and that Jesus will be leaving them, but they have no idea what to do next. They problem is that in the face of all of these questions they have for Jesus about “where are you going” and “how will we know the way”, Jesus essentially gives them the Sunday school answer. To all of these questions he basically tells them “the answer is me”
What we can see here is that there are a whole range of questions, theological questions and practical questions where the answer is “Jesus”…
The thing is that I would suggest that the questions Jesus disciples are asking are questions that people still ask today… Why do I think this? Well… The Internet… More specifically, a growing body of work that suggests that data from the combined data from Google searches, Facebook, etc, can reveal much more about what we actually think, what we worry about, what we struggle with, than data from surveys in which people might be too embarrassed to tell the truth.
What Happens when we die? (How Do We Get to God)
1–4 14 “Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking.”
5 Thomas said, “Master, we have no idea where you’re going. How do you expect us to know the road?”
6–7 Jesus said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me.
- I am going to get a room ready for you…
- I am the road.
- I am the way, the Truth and the Life.
The first and most basic question that these disciples are asking is “how will we follow you”, Jesus has essentially told them “I am going somewhere and you can’t follow” so they ask “how will we follow, how will we find it, how will we know where to go” It’s a pretty simple question because they don’t think they know the destination, the way to get there. But Jesus says that the way to find God is through me… He says “I am the Way, the Truth and the life”, in a very real sense Jesus is to be the map by which they find God. For a Jewish hearer this would be quite confronting, because Jesus isn’t saying “Here is the set of steps, here is a ritual that you need to do to find God”. He’s not saying “Here is the secret knowledge you need to have, the secret words”, rather Jesus is simply saying “You need to follow me”.
More than this, it is in Jesus that we realise that God doesn’t simply send us a map and leave us to our own devices, but that in Christ, we see the extent to which God is prepared to seek us out, no matter where we are at. It is in Christ that we see that it is not only us who are seeking God, but we see the extent to which that God wants us to find him, to make a way, to show us the way.
The Answer is Jesus…
What is God Like?
If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You’ve even seen him!”
8 Philip said, “Master, show us the Father; then we’ll be content.”
9–10 “You’ve been with me all this time, Philip, and you still don’t understand? To see me is to see the Father. So how can you ask, ‘Where is the Father?’ Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you aren’t mere words. I don’t just make them up on my own. The Father who resides in me crafts each word into a divine act.
11–14 “Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can’t believe that, believe what you see—these works.
- How will we recognise God?
- What is God like?
- What does God do?
Again, Jesus offers something that, at the time, would have probably confused his disciples more than helped them… You need to understand that in Judaism, for a person to claim that they are God (or that anything other than God, is God) is blasphemy, highly offensive and it is ultimately this claim about Jesus identity that got him crucified as well as what being essentially what God Stephen stoned in the Acts reading… Likewise the idea of God being fully present anywhere other than in the temple would have been a difficult concept for his disciples to fully accept, let alone that they were directly interacting with God in Jesus.
The thing because of Jesus, we can know what God is like. For followers of Jesus, God is not simply unknowable, distant and wholly mysterious. From the Gospels that tell the story of Jesus, we get the fullest understanding of what God is like and what it looked like for God to be present in the midst of our world.
In Jesus’ birth we see a God who chooses to come into the world, not in glory, but in humility. We see a God who remained faithful to his people, even when they had turned away time and time again.
In Jesus’ calling the disciples, we see a God who calls people from every walk of life to follow.
In Jesus’ miracles, we see a God who created all things and is working towards its redemption. Offering healing and wholeness to those who were broken, suffering and outcast.
In Jesus’ teaching we see a God who seeks that we may live as we were created to live, at peace with one another and with creation, free from the chains of sin and brokenness that damage ourselves and others.
In Jesus’ forgiveness and compassion we see a God who extends grace after grace for those who would trust and follow him.
In Jesus’ living we see that God values those who our society dismisses, the poor, the broken, the unclean, and invites them into his family.
In Jesus’ dying we see the extent to which God shares in the brokenness and pain of creation that it may be renewed.
In Jesus’ resurrection we see the God which has power over death and continues to renew and bring life out of even the worst sin and brokenness that humanity can muster.
In Jesus’ sending of the disciples, we the God who seeks to call all peoples, nations and cultures into his family…
The Answer is Jesus…
What is the church? (Jesus’ Followers)
The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it. That’s how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I’ll do.
- What should we do?
- How do we do it?
- What difference will it make?
So what should we do, how will we do it, where do we place our hope?
Folks, for those who are Jesus followers, our identity, our task is a simple as it is daunting. We are to be those who embody Jesus and continue the ministry. That is who we are, this is what we are here for, this is what we are to do.
Through the Holy Spirit the same God revelated through Jesus works through us so that the world may see and know God through our continuation of Jesus presence and ministry.
This is not something we do on our own, but something we do with God. In understanding this, we see that prayer isn’t just about God as a vending machine for what we want, but prayer is how we are aligned with and equipped for God’s work in our lives and our community. In prayer, we affirm the character, nature and power of the God who we serve as one who brings life and renewal and seek to be faithful to our place within this work.
This is who we are…
Folks, make no mistake, the renewal of creation, forgiveness, healing and new life doesn’t just happen overseas, at larger churches or somewhere else, it starts here with every day people like you and me, as we worship, serve and embody Jesus at home, at work and together here.
Neither technology, ideology, politics or economics are enough on their own, only through Jesus can the brokenness and injustice of our world be healed.
Folks Jesus is the hope of the world and as his people here we need to remember the local church is the hope of the world, that as we, together with all of God’s people continue the work of Jesus, God is at work renewing us, renewing our community and renewing our world, until Jesus comes to bring it to completion.
The Answer is Jesus…