By Cathy Ramsey
This devotional comes from a pamphlet written
by Christopher Hall (“A Different Way”) and published by Renovare. I think it
will help us visualize Jesus’ last conversation with the disciples before he
died for us on the cross and was resurrected. I found this extremely meaningful
during Holy Week.
The apostle John records a last, long
conversation Jesus had with his disciples. It occurred in the upper room on the
night that Jesus was later betrayed and arrested in the garden of Gethsemane.
In this last talk, Jesus emphasizes truths about God and himself that he wants
embedded in the disciples’ minds, for these are people who will speak and write
on Jesus’ behalf after his ascension into heaven—bearing witness to who he is,
what he has accomplished, and what he is still doing in the world through the
This last conversation wasn’t easy for the
disciples. How so? Well, among other things, Jesus starts the discussion by
announcing he is leaving, and nobody is happy about this.
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe
in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not
so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And
if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with
me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am
For many of us, these are comforting words,
words of encouragement, words that keep us going during times of testing,
loneliness, pain, illness, or grief. Not so with the disciples. Jesus’ teaching
about leaving and coming back made little scriptural or theological sense to
them. Why? They expected a Messiah who stays. God’s anointed one comes to
reign, to end Israel’s subjection to Roman rule, to heal, to defeat Satan, to
For Thomas, Peter, Phillip, and the rest of the
apostolic band gathered that last evening with Jesus in the upper room, their
messianic expectations were grounded on the promise of the prophets that
Israel’s Messiah would come and rule in Jerusalem (cf. Isaiah 2:1–5). All the
nations would stream to God’s anointed on Zion. This present evil age would
end. The age to come would begin under the leadership of the anointed king of
Israel, the promised Messiah.
Jesus had fulfilled the disciples’ messianic
(pertaining to the Messiah) expectations up to this point. Why now this talk
about leaving? Why was he going away? Where was he going?
We perceive the disciples’ confusion in the
question Thomas poses to Jesus: “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so
how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). Thomas is puzzled, confused,
frustrated. “Lord, you’re not being helpful,” he seems to be saying. “Why are
you leaving? Where are you going? Messiahs don’t leave. They stay.”
Jesus’ response to Thomas doesn’t clarify
matters, though it is a saying well loved by Christians. “I am the way and
the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you
really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him
and have seen him” (John 14:6–7).
Philip, who sometimes seems a bit out of his
depth, responds on behalf of the entire group: “Lord, show us the Father and
that will be enough for us” (John 14:8).
As Jesus replies to Philip, we sense a hint of
impatience in his voice, toward Philip and all the apostles. They should
understand by now. “Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I
have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the
Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9).
Could Jesus be clearer? When we look at Jesus,
we see the Father.
What is God like? God is like Jesus. Jesus
invites us to look at him and see God. He promises us that if we take a good
look and drink him in, we will find God. For some of us, our first big step
toward spiritual healing, spiritual wholeness, and spiritual sanity will be a
big step toward Jesus. You may consider taking the next three to five years to
just read the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John— over and over again. There
is no need to rush. Hidden icebergs of ingrained, false patterns of thinking and
living will slowly crack and melt. Christ’s healing light will shine into the
hidden nooks of our personality. Darkness will recede. Distorted and
destructive views of God will fade. A new picture of God—one in line with
Reality—will slowly set in and stabilize.
I repeat again: What is God like? God is like
This first step toward Jesus will be hard for some of us, for we have been hurt
in the past. We may have been wounded by what people have taught us about God.
We may have been injured by other “Christians,” both in what they have said and
in what they have done.
Take your time. Thankfully, there is no rush in
spiritual formation. It is the slowest of all human movements. Jesus never
tires of saying to each precious image-bearer, “I want to embrace you and make
you like me. I want to teach you a different way.” Jesus’ invitation is for
everyone. No one is left out.
God has promised that what has gone wrong will
ultimately be made right; in fact, recreation and renewal has begun. Christ has
come. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. Still, we wait.
God is weaving new clothes for us on the loom of redemption.
A Word of Encouragement from Jesus
You are my beloved. You are my dear, dear girl,
my dear, dear boy. Come to me. You have been laden too long with burdens too
heavy for you to carry. Give them to me. Trust me. You are loved. You are safe.
I will not harm you. It is time to release your life into my light and love.
Come home. There is a fire waiting and supper prepared. Once you’ve eaten your
fill, we will begin our journey together. A different way awaits.