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John 14:1-14

Lesson Focus: We know who God is because we have seen Jesus. Jesus has shown us the way to go forward in life and faith.

Catching up on the story: Jesus is stuck in perpetual conflict with the Jewish religious leadership over his identity. Jesus, over and over again, proclaims that he and the Father are one. To know Jesus is to know who the Father is. Jesus is also constantly doing things, saying things so that those who are around him will believe. The call to believe that Jesus is one with the Father is rather strong in this section.

Jesus, in our passage, has just returned to Jerusalem to begin preparations for the Passover celebration. He has made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and he has washed the disciples’ feet as an example of the new commandment that Jesus has given them to love and serve one another. Jesus has also been preparing his disciples for his departure but promises that they will someday join him. Peter wants to join him now, but Jesus predicts Peter’s denial of him.

The Text: Jesus has just begun his farewell discourse. Jesus and his disciples have entered Jerusalem to much fanfare. They have gathered together for a meal in which Jesus practices his love and service for his followers by washing their feet. Jesus then gives his disciples a new commandment to love one another as he has loved and served them. He then declares, once again, that he is going away and that where he is going they cannot follow.

This is disturbing for the disciples. Peter, who is very zealous, wants to reassure Jesus that wherever Jesus will go so will Peter. Jesus responds by predicting that Peter will not only not follow (immediately anyway), but in the face of opposition, he will deny Jesus three times. All of this causes the disciples to fear and wonder about the future. The disciples have every reason to be afraid. This man has rocked their world. They have followed him everywhere, witnessed all his great teachings and works and have changed their lives because of him. They cannot go back to who they were before. Now Jesus wants to reassure his followers that things will all end up well for them and this new way. The very first words of the passage are words of comfort and assurance: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14:1) Jesus urges the disciples to not be troubled but to trust in God and also in himself.

The NRSV translates πιστεύετε as “believe” while the NIV translates the same word as “trust.” Trust is probably a better translation because it carries a less dogmatic sense. In our time belief is often merely a cognitive assent to a proposition. Trust, on the other hand, alludes to a more intimate connection between the one doing the trusting and the one being trusted in. Jesus is urging the disciples to trust him that even in the midst of all the uncertainty of the day, God is working things for His good and glory. The disciples are called to trust in God and in Jesus. John has stressed the oneness of Jesus and the Father throughout his Gospel. Once again we are told to trust in Jesus because God and Jesus are one.

Jesus then explains where he is going and what he will do there. He is going to be with the Father to prepare a place for those who believe. Where God is there is more than enough room for all of creation to dwell. “Jesus’ departure should not be a cause for sorrow, but for comfort and trust (v. 1). He is going away to prepare for them the universal and permanent possibility of an abiding communion with the Father (v. 2).” If Jesus is going to prepare a place for th