We’ve got a couple of greatest hits from Jesus in John 14, some of his most recognizable words. “In my Father’s house are many rooms and I go there to prepare a place for you,” and “I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” The latter has unfortunately been often used as a convenient assurance that we are in fact better than all those other religions, even though that’s not at all what Jesus is trying to say. Rather, Jesus is answering a question – what is the way to God, to eternity? The one asking the question might think it’s a matter of being the right amount of righteous. But Jesus’ answer is both simpler and more difficult than that. The way to God, to eternity, is Jesus himself. In the same way, truth is not a set of facts or beliefs, but Jesus himself. Life itself is Jesus himself. He is not a tour guide showing us where to find these things. He is these things. To be in the presence of Jesus is itself to be on our way. Finding God is both as simple and as difficult as remaining in the presence of the one who approached us in the first place and said, “Follow me.”
Sandwiched between these greatest hits, he says, “I’m preparing a place for you, and coming to get you to take you to… myself.” That’s the promise from Jesus – more Jesus! The intimate presence of Jesus is what we are promised, from now to eternity. There is more than enough room in his presence. The house has space for as many who are willing to show up. Jesus clearly believes this to be some much-needed good news, so the first thing he says is, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled.” He knows his good news falls on troubled hearts who will have a difficult time receiving it, who struggle to truly believe that we fully belong in the presence of God. Do not let your hearts be troubled, he says. The amount of space God has made for you in his beautiful, loving, welcoming presence is not and never will be in jeopardy.
Now this gets Philip talking. “Yes, show us the Father, Jesus, and we’ll be satisfied!” This is a pretty serious fumble of everything Jesus just said, but it’s understandable. Philip’s request comes from a place of consumerism deep within the human heart. No matter what is standing right in front of us looking us in the eye, we’re simply wired to think there’s something better around the corner. But the simple truth is that there is no more. To be in the presence of Jesus is everything.
So Jesus expresses some disappointment with Philip. You still don’t get it, huh? He responds. If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father. There is no distance at all between himself and the Father. In the presence of Jesus, we see our present and future at the same time, and Jesus is both.
Let’s hear Jesus encouraging and challenging us. “Do you not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, and believe in me.” The path to God and to eternity is the path Jesus already put us on. So we remain in the presence of the one who called us into his presence in the first place.