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John 14:1 Do not let your hearts be troubled

The Gospel passage we have just heard is part of Jesus preparing the disciples for what is to come. This conversation takes place in the upper room after Judas has left the Passover supper and after Jesus has explained to them “Little children, I am with you only a little longer” and “where I am going you cannot go.” The disciples are dejected and so Jesus comforts them with those words, now so familiar to us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” He counsels them too that they know the way to heaven.

Thomas ever the practical down to earth questioning one, the one who will want to see and put his fingers in Jesus’ wounds says:

“Steady on Jesus, actually we have no idea where you are going; we do not know your destination so how can we possibly know the way?”

Put simply Jesus’ answer is “Follow me.”

I had been out for dinner with my colleague, one of my favourite overseas buyers, a red headed lively engaging Italian girl, Anna Bertelli and as she was staying in Tunbridge Wells I thought afterwards to give her a glimpse of the spa and to take an evening stroll across the common. Leading the way and almost back there was suddenly the sound of a tumble, a distinct crack as of a twig breaking and an Italian yowl. Anna had fallen and as it later turned out had broken her ankle. At the next meeting of my team she retold the story with much southern European gesture and emphasis:

“Of course I should have known better, it is all my fault – I cannot imagine what made me follow this crazy man!”

And indeed there may be one or two of you (if not more) who are thinking much the same- perhaps I have taken you with me on a longish walk, hundreds of miles one person said, up and down dales though quagmires and so on, or maybe we have been caught in a thunderous rainstorm despite confident prior assurances.

The dictionary gives several definitions for the word follow:

To go after or behind; to pursue; to attend; to support; to believe in; to obey; to embrace the tenets of; to practise (a trade); to grasp or understand the whole course of something;

And really all these apply. Jesus is saying I have told you who I am and he elaborates this again for Philip and he has told us that He is going to his Father’s house, to heaven, to prepare a place for us. it is sometimes difficult to know who to follow but we are often ,called to make choices in our everyday lives.
Which policies shall we adopt? Who shall we vote for Thursday next? At work there may be rival opinions, which one shall we support, we may have to choose between different strategies, or bosses or companies. Friends may encourage us to follow a particular way with them even to cross treacherous patches of Royal common.

With Jesus we are safe. Our ideas of heaven will be indistinct, we surely have no precise idea of how that will be but we do know how to get there. We get there by following Jesus’ example, his pattern for living, his commandment given in the same upper room:

“I give you a new commandment, that you should love one another; as I have loved you so you should love one another.”

And that of course is the way the truth and the life, despite Thomas’ doubts, the route is quite clear. Let us follow the Lord.


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