“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.”
This passage has to be one of the most comforting and reassuring in the whole of Scripture, which is why it is so often read at a funeral service. Jesus is effectively saying that we have nothing whatsoever to worry about. I want to talk about just two aspects, ‘belief’ in the sense of trust, and the nature of ‘the way’ to which Jesus refers, and which causes his disciples such difficulty.
Now trust is not easy for any of us. It is now understood that the foundations for trust are laid early in life, in the first two years. If a baby is fed, watered, held, loved and kept safe during those first years, the foundations for trust in later life are well established. However, if like so many of us, you have parents who for whatever reason are unable to care for you fully in that way, then the very foundations of your trust is likely to be shakey. If that is the case then we may well struggle with Jesus’s advice today.
However as we come to know God better, we learn that here at last is one in whom we can place our full confidence.
An unknown author provides this picutre. “At first I saw God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there sort of like a president. I recognized his picture when I saw it, but I really didn’t know Him.
But later on, when I met Christ, It seemed as though life were rather like a bike ride, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that Christ was in the back helping me pedal.
I don’t know when it was that he suggested that we change places, but life has not been the same since. When I had control, I knew the way. It was rather boring, but predictable. . . It was the shortest distance between two points.
But when he took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky place at breakneck speeds, It was all I could do to hang on! Even though it looked like madness, He said "Pedal!"
I worried and was anxious and asked, "Where are you taking me?" He laughed and didn’t answer, and I started to learn to trust. I forgot my boring life and entered into the adventure. And when I’d say "I’m scared," He’d lean back and touch my hand.
And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and I’m beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion Jesus Christ. And when I’m sure I just can’t do anymore, He just smiles and says . . . "Pedal." “- author unknown
But what about the ‘way’? Like the disciples we can easily become confused about this. Yet if we look at the gospel as a whole, we see that from the beginning, Jesus' way leads to his death. As Marcus Borg has pointed out, “ This death is also, for John, his glorification. The way is the path of death and resurrection. It is encapsulated in the single key verse, "Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (John 12:24). In short, for John the way or path of Jesus is the path of death and resurrection understood as a metaphor for the religious life. That way--the path of dying to an old way of being and being born into a new way of being--is the only way to God. We call it the Easter or Pschal mystery, and it applies to all of us, all of the time. Throughout our lives we are letting go of the old, in order that the new may come.
The way of Jesus is thus not a set of propositions about Jesus. Rather, the way of Jesus is the way of death and resurrection--the path of transition and transformation from an old way of being to a new way of being. It is the way that demands that we live our lives in trust and not in fear.
To use the language of incarnation that is so central to John, Jesus incarnates the way. Incarnation means embodiment. Jesus is what
the way embodied in a human life looks like.”
So trust Him, follow Him – and above all enjoy the ride! In the name of Jesus Christ, the way, the truth and the life. Amen