I have been a Christian now for about 15 years. I don’t say that to be prideful or arrogant. Rather, I am saying that to make a very important statement about this passage that I have been studying now for almost two full days. John 14: 1-7 has got me thinking once again about my walk with God. What interests me this time around is the amount of time the disciples have been walking with Christ up until this point of the story. For almost three years, these disciples have left everything behind to follow a Rabbi who said that these misfits could be like Him. For three years, the disciples have seen Jesus in a variety of situations: Healing people, loving people, serving people (even washing the disciple’s feet later on), and even how He leads as a Rabbi. It is almost as though the most undeserving people on earth have been given a free ride in the most unbelievable training ever and they have come to this point in their training and forget the elementary information. Jesus has called each one of them to follow Him. Even despite someone like Judas was given a free access pass into this very exclusive crew of students.
As I said, I have been a Christian now for about 15 years. I have at least eight Bibles (mostly different translations), Bible commentaries, Bible dictionaries, other religious and spiritual books on a variety of topics in which the Bible speaks of, and even possess a decent knowledge of the original language of the Greek in order to translate and understand a fuller picture of what Jesus and the rest are saying in the text. Finally, I also have the ability to know the end of the story – we win and Christ reigns for eternity in a new heaven and a new earth with us being His co-heirs and co-kings and queens.
I am no better off than these twelve disciples. For 15 years, I have not attempted to understand this passage in any significant form or challenge the status quo of those who have taken a verse here and a verse there and compiled a list of verses to push and press an agenda without a care in the world to the context of the verse or to whom Jesus was speaking. For 15 years, I have used this verse in a wrong way and feel as though perhaps I need to apologize to those in whom I have spouted this verse off to and yet have not done my part in researching why a tract or a “Christian book” would use this verse the way in which they do.
Here is what I have come to understand thus far concerning this text. Jesus is the journey in which I am now on and have been on for almost 15 years and have not even understood what that means with regards to the way in which I live, in how I work, in how I build relationships, in how I worship, and even in how I read the Word of God respectively. Each page of the Bible is there to help me understand how God calls me to follow and imitate Him as Lord and Savior. Paul says we are to be Ambassadors for Christ. What does that even mean though? It means that we are to be representatives of Christ in the here and now and not just in the then and there. With each step and each page of the Word of God, Jesus continues to push me forward and conform me more into His image and His likeness so that when the world sees me, they see a reflection of Jesus instead of looking at an average sinner.
Jesus did not speak these words to the unsaved but to His disciples. They are words of encouragement to you and to me. They are words, which we are given to press on and not give up living as Jesus called us to live. Those who understood this ended up calling themselves, “Followers of the Way” and I have to ask myself if I can be included in that club or if I am worried more about how I am going to get there on my own behalf.
Jesus said He was going to go and do what He needed to do and then He is going to come back and bring us to Himself. Meanwhile, we are to continue doing what Jesus has taught us to do – we are to continue in His way, with His truth, sharing His life with others. We are not to sit around and pout. We are to be actively engaged in what Jesus has called us to do right now – each day, every moment of every day.
When we look at these verses through these lenses, I am convinced that we need to somehow learn how to reread the Bible all over again. I shared that with a woman today in the library after I had spent a good bit of time reading these verses over and over again and she just looked at me and said, “That seems so impossible. How on earth can we learn to reread the Bible all over again after reading it the way we have read it for so long? It would take such a long time.” I took her response to heart and told her that I agreed that it would take a really long time to figure that out. But for me, that is my goal. I want to learn desperately how to reread the Bible afresh and put my feet into the sandals of the disciples as Jesus speaks. I want to ask the questions the disciples would have asked. I want to journey with Jesus and allow the dust from His feet to fall on me as we walk together. I want to understand why it is so hard to believe in Jesus after seeing all the signs and miracles Jesus displayed while the disciples were present. I would love to be present when Jesus transfigured Himself on the mountain – that must have been the most amazing sight.
In conclusion, I don’t think I could ever look at these verses the same way again. I am certain that this message needs to be shared with others and cannot sit in the minds of man. We need more pastors and teachers to learn how to reread their Bibles all over again and ask the questions the disciples would have asked. Maybe asking these questions is something that will actually help the church grow rather than seeing the church decline. Perhaps I am not seeing the fullness of the questions I should be asking, but I am nonetheless going to continue to ask. I am learning and I praise God that I am finally understanding what it means to be a follower of the way.