5th Sunday of Easter
1 Peter 2:2-10
Dear fellow ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ,
grace and peace to you from the way the truth and the life. Amen
Today it’s all about Jesus.
I mean we talk about Jesus a lot in church
but today’s gospel lesson is extra Jesusy.
John takes a lot of words and some confusing sentence structures to do it
but in this passage he is reemphasizing
the heart of his very simple message:
that Jesus is the revelation of God,
It’s all about Jesus,
When we want to know who God is we look to Jesus
When we want to know what God thinks we ask Jesus
When we want to know how God relates to the world we look to Jesus
When we want to be in relationship with God we relate to Jesus.
It’s so simple,
and yet it’s an incredible difficult thing
to get our minds around,
perhaps because of its simplicity.
The disciples certainly had trouble with the concept
they were used to relating to God through the temple,
in their Judaism, that’s where God lived,
if you wanted to communicate with God
you had to go to the temple and make an offering,
to get into the temple you had to be ritually pure
according to the laws,
to make an offering
you had to have the resources to procure the bird or lamb or cow
to give to the priests who make the offering on your behalf.
God is revealed in the laws that set this all up
and in the covenant promise to the ancestors
to be with the people
and in the teachers that know more than you
because they spend time studying the law.
And then the disciples meet Jesus
who they can tell is something special,
a really good teacher
who puts up with their nonsense and continuous questions,
who knows them
and who as they get to know him is revealed as more and more special,
he keeps doing these miraculous signs,
he turns water into wine, feeds thousands,
raises a man from the dead,
could he be the messiah?
The one sent by God to save the people?
That is still within the realm of possibility,
where they get stuck is Jesus’ claim of intimacy with God,
who Jesus calls daddy
who now Jesus says that he is the way to get to God,
echoing the name God gives Moses at the burning bush
Jesus says “I am”
“I am the way the truth and the life.
I am in the Father and the father is in me.”
So how does that work?
It seems simple enough and yet the disciples are incredibly confused.
Witnessing the resurrection helps,
And though the disciples still had their moments
they followed Jesus’ command
to tell others the simple beautiful message,
that in Jesus God is revealed to us,
that the way to relate to God
is to be in relationship with Jesus
who continues his work of revelation through his followers
and the good news spread
and communities gathered together
to live with the revelation of God in Jesus,
communities like the one the gospel of John was written for,
They were the next generation of believers
who accepted and proclaimed that Jesus is the revelation of God
Their struggle with this simple yet difficult message
seems to have been with their families and communities
who were divided over Jesus,
in the gospel
are blamed for a lot of things
which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense
because Jesus and his disciples were Jews.
Scholars think that this language
is a reflection of the hurt the community experienced
when they were kicked out of their synagogues and communities
for proclaiming Jesus,
in our lesson for today their faith in Jesus is proclaimed
when Jesus says
“No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you know me, you will know my father also.”
The community is making a very specific statement about God,
God is not a generic deity
but is particularly known through the incarnation of Jesus.
Jesus makes the truth about God available to the world
and this community celebrates their faith
that it’s all about Jesus.
It’s a simple yet difficult message.
We struggle with it too,
particularly in a world
where people proclaim
that God has been revealed in a variety of ways
from the Torah, to Jesus to the qu’ran,
where the joyful proclamation by John’s community
of what they have discovered
- that Jesus is the way to know God-
has been taken and used as a way categorically state
that particular people or groups will be excluded from heaven,
an attempt at spreading what we consider good life giving news
through scare tactics and the threat of exclusion
essentially the taking away of life-
but that is not the God I find revealed in Jesus,
the God I find revealed in Jesus
is one who continually works to widen the circle,
one who lovingly gets to know each member of creation,
who provides a way to be in relationship with God
even though I continually mess up, I turn away,
I find a God who names and claims me in the waters of baptism,
who meets me at the table forgiving me again in again,
I find a God who continually surprises me
by bringing new life out of death.
And yes it can be difficult
because we are part of those who have not seen Jesus like the disciples
and yet have come to believe.
and yet here we are,
because whether we can explain it or not,
we know we have found the way the truth and the life.
Jesus is the way to God
because Jesus is the revelation of God!
because he is truly God
and the life
because in him who created the universe life is abundant.
All we need is Jesus. Amen
Pastor Emily Johnson preaches weekly at Christ Lutheran. These are manuscripts of her sermons given at Christ Lutheran. Feel free to engage with them in the comments section of the blog.