Easter 5a – Sunday 22nd May 2011
John 14: 1-14
What would we ever do without Sat Nav? I’d be lost!
Technology is advancing so quickly that the most up-to-date models now have the most amazing capabilities. Steering you away from roadworks and congestion. They warn you of speed camera’s. They tell you of points of interest along the way. They even play music or store photo’s.
The more sophisticated models even have the ability to choose ‘celebrity’ voices to guide you. You can have Brian Blessed’s dulcet tones booming out at you, or even Donald Duck. Given the opportunity to have anyone’s voice guiding me towards my intended destination I’d plump for Tommy Cooper … you’d be there just like that!
I was very glad of my Sat Nav this past weekend, as I negotiated my way round Birmingham by day and night. The alternate was a long ball of wool being fed out the back window and hoping that the trail would still be there three hours later on my return journey!
Was there technology like that at the time of Jesus? Sat Nav, not the ball of wool, I hasten to add. Maybe this passage will points us in the right direction.
First and foremost, what I like about this passage is the fact that I can identify with the disciples so easily. Thomas and Philip play a blinder. Jesus must have been thinking to himself, “What is the point?” He’d been faithfully guiding these guys for so long and yet they still didn’t get it.
“You know the way to where I am going”, Jesus was saying, when a voice from the back said, “Hold up! Not so fast! Run that by me again.”
At this point I think it’s fair to say that we are not talking like one of the disciples had an unexplained leave of absence and was playing catch up – “Jury service, it was so boring!”
It wasn’t even a case of not listening – “Sorry Jesus, can you repeat that, I was just on Facebook!”
It’s not as if one of the disciples was momentarily distracted – “Wow, did you see that Audi A3 convertible?”
This is lock, stock and twelve smoking barrels worth of disciples who weren’t fully clued up to what Jesus was saying.
“We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
One of my favourite TV stars from my childhood days was Rolf Harris – in fact, he still is today. I used to love to watch him on any programme on television, his skill at drawing and painting was just wonderful. The most amazing thing was that often Rolf would use a 3 inch paint brush (and gloss paint) and paint a picture about eight foot high and twenty foot wide. And his catchphrase … “Can you tell what it is yet?”
In many ways, that is what Jesus was saying to his disciples. “I’m not expecting you to grasp this in one go. Take one step at a time. Put the pieces together. You have seen me. You have seen the Father. Can you tell what it is yet?”
And, knock me down with a feather, Philip now decides to join in the act. “Ok, we get it, we know where you’re going, what direction we’re headed, Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Wasn’t it Tom Cruise’s character in the film of the same name, Jerry Maguire, that paraphrased those words of Philip – “Show me the money!” The proof of the pudding is in the eating I would like to add too.
I still have those feelings of uncertainty. I’m not always sure I can discern clearly what God is saying to me. The direction I’m headed often seems to be soft underfoot. But I can live with those tensions, because written on my heart are the words: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” I’m following Jesus no matter what. I can trust his word of life absolutely and without hesitation. And he is the source of all goodness, strength and beauty in me. Written through me like a stick of Blackpool rock is undoubtedly, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
If we can hold on to those words despite the indecision of our discipleship then we won’t go far wrong. Immense words of encouragement. No wonder they are up amongst the greatest promises and words of inspiration found in the Bible. Take them to your heart, and hey, you still will be puzzled and confused and tempted, but you will be headed in the right direction.
Anyway, just off to lend my Sat Nav to Tony Christie, he can’t find the way to Amarillo.