"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."
Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us 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 authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it." (ESV)
| || |
Wednesday of Pentecost 9
13 August 2014
A protective cocoon surrounds the President of the United States. No one gets near him unless they are carefully vetted beforehand and watched closely. The personal information of the president is very carefully hidden and managed. The White House staff only puts out for public consumption what the president wants communicated to the people. In the case of the president, this assures his safety and the security of his office. However, it makes it impossible for him to be approached by the people and cuts off his contact with the people for whom he is supposed to be working. Of course, this level of security was not always thought necessary or even helpful. At the beginning of the American republic, the White House was the people's house in more than name. The house was truly open to petitioners who could call on the president by walking up to the front door, even though this did not guarantee that he would see them. There were also regular weekly open houses hosted by the president. The violence perpetrated against the president snuffed out this open approach to government. Everyone would admit that is an unfortunate turn of events, even though the clock cannot be turned back. It would be better to have the opportunity for the people to approach their president.
Christ our Lord has opened His Father's house to us (Jn 14:2-3) and He is the only way in (Jn 14:6). We can approach Him personally and individually because He is one of us, truly human, born of Mary. He has invited us to approach Him. His Father's house is always open to us. He was willing to risk the violence of those who might approach Him when He was incarnate and walked visibly among His people. He did not seek to flee the grasping hands of those who sought His life (Lk 13:32-33). The hypocritical petitioners approached Him attempting to derail His campaign, but He refused to flee their prying eyes and grasping hands. He scorned their threats. When they came to arrest Him because He said much they had found impolitic and inconvenient, He went quietly. His campaign for our freedom culminated when He embraced the death they demanded of Him. He laid down His life that His people might always have perfect access to the house of His Father. His cross displays before us the very door to our salvation, Christ Himself (Jn 10:9), who gains entry to our Father's house for us.
We do not gain entry to our Father's house but the Son brings the fullness of divine gifts to us, His people. To approach His presence through any door other than Christ, is to attempt the impossible. It would be like trying to breach White House security by hopping the fence and running toward the House over the lawn. No matter how swiftly you could run there is no chance that you would get face to face with the President. Only Christ Himself could open the door into the presence of our Father. If He escorts you in, you are truly in. This is what it means to say that without the article of justification, there is no Christianity. We Christians are totally confident of our righteousness before God and our perfect access to our Father because this is given and assured to us by Christ, God's Son. Christ has made God known to us. Fully known. He gives us access where we have deserved none.
"Whoever falls from the article of justification is ignorant of God and is an idolater. Therefore it is all the same whether he then returns to the law or to the worship of idols. It is all the same whether he is called a monk or a Turk or a Jew or an Anabaptist. For once this doctrine is undermined, nothing more remains but sheer error, hypocrisy, wickedness,and idolatry, regardless that it appears to be the highest truth, worship of God, and holiness.
"The reason is this: God does not want to be known except through Christ; as John 1:18 says, The Son, 'who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.' Christ is the Offspring promised to Abraham; on whom God founded all His promises. Therefore Christ alone is the means, and (as I might say) the mirror through which we see God and know His will. Through Christ God announces His favor and mercy to us. In Christ we see that God is not a wrathful taskmaster and judge but a gracious and most kind Father, who blesses us, that is, who liberates us from the law, sin, death, and every evil, and gives us grace, righteousness, and eternal life through Christ. He did not spare His own Son, but He gave Him up for us all. This is a sure knowledge of God and a divine conviction, which does not deceive us but portrays God Himself in a specific form, outside of which there is no God."
Lectures on Galatians, 4.9
Almighty God, heavenly Father, You have promised on the lips of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, that there are many rooms in Your house. Grant that we would repose quietly in the faith of Christ who is the perfect radiance of Your divine nature. Keep us active in prayer, for Your Son is the door through which we pass into Your presence with our every petition and prayer, every sigh and sorrow. Amen.
For Noreen Linke, that she would be strengthened in her body
For all pastors and church musicians, that they would be strengthened as they lead God's people into the weakness of the cross
For Vicki Butterfield, who is convalescing after breaking bones, that the Lord would knit together bone and sinew
For the family of Dean O. Wenthe, who was bereaved of his mother, that the family would find comfort in the divine promises as they mourn their loss
Art: Dürer, Albrecht The Adoration of the Trinity (1515)
© Scott R. Murray, 2014