A sermon on John 14 v. 1 – 27, first published in the Baptist Times on November 12th 2009

The sermon outline

 Parents, especially those with numerous children, will know what feeling hassled is all about.  At any given time someone will be sick, someone else will need shoes, someone else will have a parent’s evening and someone else will have boyfriend troubles.  Others experience the same thing at work – constantly squeezed by the demands to cut costs and increase productivity.  In this particular part of John’s Gospel the disciples didn’t really know what had hit them.  One minute their Lord and master was bizarrely washing their feet, the next Judas was leaving under a cloud, and they were even told that the rock-like Peter would crumble under the pressure.

 By looking forward Jesus reassured them that God is before you.  Like Moses before, and Stephen and John afterwards – they were shown a glimpse of what was to be.  The promise of plenty of room in his father’s house was intended to reassure them that all would be well.  He also assured them that Jesus is with you – beside them even in the unseen future.  Best of all, he reassured them that the Spirit is with you.  The Spirit, as comforter and companion, comes as reassurance even in the most hassled of times.  He would be so close as to be actually within each disciple.  Peace is not the absence of noise, but the presence of God even within the noise.

 Scriptural issues

–          Philip’s perplexity shows that even the finest teaching can fail to find its mark at times.

–          Note that the word ‘mansions’ in v.2 arises from the Latin word ‘mansio’ in the Vulgate – and does not imply that every Christian will be given their own ‘Beckenham Place’.

–          Note that at the time disciples abandoned by their Rabbi were referred to as ‘orphans’ (v.18)

–          How does the promise of the Spirit within compare with David’s picture of God in Psalm 46 v. 1- 5? 

Current issues 

–          Does saying ‘all will be well’ lead to a kind of Christian fatalism which accepts the present without question?

–          On the day of his inauguration, Barack Obama talked about ‘ushering in a new era of peace’.  What relation does that hold to the kind of peace Jesus describes here?

“There is a notorious rewrite of Rudyard Kipling’s If which carries the line ‘if you can keep your head when all about are losing theirs – its because you don’t understand the situation’.  If you can keep your head when hassled its because God the father stands before you, Jesus walks beside you and the Holy Spirit of God dwells within you.”