To: Clergy and People
From: The Bishop
8th May, 2020
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.”
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. 4And you now the way to the place where I am going.’
5Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ 6Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.(John 14:1-6)
These words of our Lord come in the context of a period of despair, sadness, bewilderment, and confusion. For the disciples had placed all their hopes and aspirations for a life of great prospects, achievements, development, growth and fulfilment in Jesus Christ. In chapter 12 in the gospel according to John Jesus informs them that he would suffer and die, Jesus informs them that one of them will betray him, and that Peter will deny him.
Thus, our Lord sought to comfort his disciples. He informs them that his going away was for their benefit. Even though they were not able to understand nor appreciate it.
John the gospel writer presents to us his own faith and that of the church- that we can trust God at all times. Even when things seem unpredictable, unrealistic, and beyond our wildest imaginations, we can trust God. This truth is revealed through the life, ministry, passion, suffering, crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection and glorious ascension of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
In John 1:1-5 we read:
1in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3AII things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life,* and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
Here John the gospel writer declares that God is creator and emphasizes that as creator God has control over Creation. The world the universe. And so, for John the means through which we human beings can find the meaning and purpose to life is to believe and trust in Jesus Christ.
In John 3:16 & 17 we read:
16 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
17 ‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
In the Gospel John presents to us several instances in which people have encounters with our Lord and those who trust Our Lord experience newness of life. He also presents to us some who found it difficult at first to do so. So, they either honestly stated their struggle or put their queries to Jesus. For example:
• John 9:2-5
9As he walked along; he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ 3Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. 4We* must work the works of him who sent me* while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’
• John 11:21-27
21Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’
23Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ 24 Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ 25Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.* Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 76and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ 27She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah,* the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’
• John 20: 24-29
24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin* ), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’
26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 27Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’
28Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’
John the gospel writer calls us to trust God through all the changing scenes and circumstances of life. Yes, we may have our questions, we may not be able to understand however we can trust God.
In John chapter 10 we read:
11’I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
12The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away-and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. 141 am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So, there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18No one takes* it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.’
Again, the emphasis is that God is always in control. It may be beyond our understanding. However, we are assured’ that we can trust God.
In the gospel according to John God the Father is in the world, is present in the life and ministry of Jesus. In John 14:6 Jesus states “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” In John 14:7 the words of Jesus “If you know me” is a condit.ion of fact, Jesus continues “you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” These are words of comfort, not condition, for the disciples. It is a statement of truth the disciples now the Father. Consequently, because of their relationship with Jesus nothing is uncertain for their present or their future. This is what Jesus wants them to be assured of.
As disciples of our lord and saviour Jesus Christ as we continue to journey through this COVID-19 Pandemic these words of Jesus to his disciples are important to us as well. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe* in God, believe also in me.”
Because of our relationship with Jesus Christ we can be confident that our Lord is present with us now and we can trust God during this pandemic and beyond.
Your Friend and Bishop
The Rt. Rev’d C. Leopold Friday
Bishop of the Windward Islands