Last week Andrew led us through a section of the Farewell Discourse, where Jesus is saying goodbye to his disciples, his friends with whom he has journeyed for the last several years of his life. And those few years must have felt like an eternity, as they were filled with some crazy events… people being healed from all sorts of physical ailments, arguments with religious leaders, times of teaching that reshaped how they see their life and God, and the raising of a friend from the dead. The years held for them conversations on roads and around the table in which Jesus spoke identity straight into their souls; he took time to raise them up and to stand them firmly in who there truly are, in him.
I remember summer after summer of leaving Young Life camp, saying goodbye both to new friends and — in a sense — to the space in which so many good experiences were held. All that was left was the memory of what had taken place within me and the pain of leaving it behind. I imagine that I have now experienced one millionth of what the disciples were feeling that day as Jesus told them goodbye. How could you ever move on after this man? Jesus brought them into experience after experience of seeing the love and power of God made manifest both in them and in those around them. How does one say ‘goodbye’ to that?
Seemingly, with great distress and anxiety. Because that’s what we see in the hearts of the disciples. And I find this so deeply human and so core to what our hearts are made of, because they are frightened, and the trouble in their souls is directed to two of our core needs that we have as people. For they respond to Jesus’ departure with a cry and a deep longing. The cry is that they could see God, the one who made them, who holds their life in his hands. The longing is one for home, a place to truly belong, where they could be safe and secure.
These two needs that are thrown at the feet of Jesus are so telling of what we are really made of, because no matter what one accomplishes or experiences or becomes, somewhere deep within us still lives this cry and longing, to know our creator and to have a home. “Yes, we see now that you are leaving us, but still… can we see and know our creator? You’re leaving us, and to where do we belong now?” To know God. To find home. The departure of their friend and Lord surfaces these needs to an even greater prominence than ever, and Jesus addresses them with words of truth, grace, and peace.
Simply, he tells them,”If you have seen me, you have seen God,” and follows that with describing the home he is going to prepare for them. And the answer Jesus gives them of how to get there, how to find God and home: “I am the way, the truth and the life”. Jesus is the answer to their troubled hearts. He himself. Not a map, not a theology, not a moral code. Jesus. Their friend, the one they have come to know, is himself the answer to their deepest cry and their deepest longing.
Jesus. Nothing and no one else can set peace into the troubled heart.
Let us find Jesus the way. Let us trust in him alone.
Grace and Peace to you,