Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 7, 2023
First Reading: Acts 7:55-60
Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16
Second Reading: 1 Peter 2:2-10
Gospel: John 14: 1-14
Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
I Am the Way, The Truth, and The Life
In the gospel reading, Jesus is with his disciples, his time is coming closer to the end here on earth.
After the death and resurrection of Jesus, we read in Acts this morning, the disciples faced a lot of suffering and death, to bring Jesus’s message to others.
So many resisted the growth of the Christian community, they would latch on to anything to use as weapons against the teaching of Jesus.
Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit, “He gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” They did not want to hear that, and he was the first Christian martyr, that was stoned to death, he was willing to give up everything to follow Jesus.
These records in Luke came later, but Jesus knew, when he was preparing His disciples, what they would face.
In John, chapter 13, Jesus gathered the disciples together in the Upper Room for the Passover meal.
The disciples were aware of Jesus’s conflict with Jewish authorities and the danger that presented.
We read this morning, John 14: 1-14, but the entire chapter of John 14: 1-31, it is about the believers’ relation… to the glorified Christ.
And for him to go, through death and resurrection, was to prepare a place of permanent fellowship, dwelling places, the resting places for the righteous.
Jesus is the gateway to God, He says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”
Jesus has turned to; His disciples to comfort them and says;
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.”
Jesus knows and acknowledges the disciples’ fear, but He does not dwell on it, instead of making their fear the focus of his conversation, He calls them to faith and gives them a picture of hope by telling them what Heaven will be like.
Do our hearts become troubled? Yes of course they do. We probably wonder sometimes how do we see God in the world that we live in today, in the middle of all this chaos.
How? We come back again and again, in Peter’s letter, and believe that we can drink that pure, spiritual milk that God offers us.
“Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it, you may grow into salvation.”
Church offers that nourishment in many ways, the Holy Eucharist, through prayer, through the words of scriptures, our liturgies, and the examples of those who love us into loving ourselves, because we all believe in God’s love for us.
Jesus calls the disciples to believe, not only in God but also in himself. Jesus never promised a safe and trouble-free life for those who followed him. But he was always assuring us and showing us, that we have a place with him.
We are all chosen to build up God’s kingdom. Using a stone to build the church, our faith.
“We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us, it is used often at funerals, and it is comforting to know. He also shows us the way, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
The Kingdom will never be finished, it continues to grow and we are part of it at this very critical time. In a few weeks, we might read, that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches.
The Kingdom of God is for everyone, every culture, every race, everyone, and as his chosen disciples, it is up to us, to continue to help his people know just how much they are loved by God. And whatever their problems are, Jesus will help, all’s they have to do is ask.
And when Jesus said, in my Father’s house there are many dwelling places, he meant for everyone. He said, I will prepare it personally FOR YOU, and at the right time, I will come and get you.
Pentecost is a few short weeks away, Jesus has gone to the Father, on our behalf, and sent us the Holy Spirit, the work begins at Pentecost. Pentecost is the birthday of the church, it is the day that God made the church.
This work does not mean miracles like signs and wonders, but it is, a call that the Disciples through us today, will have a greater Kingdom impact than when Jesus walked the earth.
Christ’s work has been multiplied through his Disciples and then their Disciples and so on.
Finely, Jesus says, I will do whatever you ask in my name.
We need to identify His plan and His purpose, and His call.
When we do, and we ask in prayer, In His Name, He, says, I will do it.
Reverend Lola Culbreath