Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Thoughts on John 14: 8–12, 26–27

[I was invited to preach on the following passages from the Gospel According to John yesterday morning. I thought I would share my message with you as well.]

Philip said to him [Jesus], “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. (Gospel According to John 14:8-12)…

The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (Gospel According to John 14:26-27)

• • •

Philip said to him, Lord, show us the Father and we will be satisfied.” (John 14:8)

Are you kidding me, Phil? You aren’t satisfied yet? Jesus has been walking with you, talking with you, working miracles among you, and you still don’t trust him. You gotta see his boss? What is wrong with you?

Actually nothing. Philip, like Jesus and the other apostles are Jews. Jews are all from Missouri. You gotta show us, and even then we may doubt you. This is the very DNA of the Jewish mind: we are not all that impressed by gods.

Remember Abraham destroying the gods of his father? Remember him challenging God over the true nature of justice? Remember Rachel sitting and pretending to menstruate on the gods of her father? How about the Exodus from Egypt? Ten plagues, splitting the Red Sea? Pretty impressive stuff, and yet the Jews opted to worship a giant piece of bling instead! We Jews aren’t perfect iconoclasts, but we lean in that direction.

Around the same time as John is writing his gospel, telling us how Philip asked to see Jesus’ dad, the rabbinic court had his own run in with God.

In the Talmud (Baba Metzia 59a) we find the rabbis arguing over the status of an oven—is it kosher or not? With the sole exception of Rabbi Eliezer the entire court decides the oven isn’t kosher. Eliezer disagrees and performs several miracles to prove his point. Unimpressed, the rabbis stick with their decision. Then God Himself comes to Eliezer’s defense and urges the rabbis to change their votes. Rabbi Joshua confronts God saying, “It is not in heaven!” (Deut. 30:12), effectively rejecting the testimony of the Almighty! Shaking with laughter God falls back onto his throne, and with tears streaming down His Face says, “At last, My children have defeated Me! At last, my children have defeated Me!”

God wants to be defeated. Jesus needs to be crucified. Only when we are free from external gods are we ready to receive the Spirit of Truth.

When we abide in Truth we are free from conditioning, and when we are free from conditioning we naturally respond to life with love, compassion, and justice. Without labels to define us we discover there is little to divide us.

But most of us are afraid to be free, living without labels troubles our hearts and so we refuse the gift of Truth, and, like Philip, we are never satisfied.

How can we change this? Live Jesus’ teaching backwards. Jesus taught it forward:

The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (Gospel According to John 14:26-27)

Now we must live it backward:

Start by ending the fear that haunts you. When fear is silenced, your hearts are no longer troubled. When your hearts are no longer troubled you have peace. When you have peace the Advocate, the Spirit of Truth dwelling with you will reveal all you need to know. And when you know all you need to know you can do what Jesus did and more. And when you do what Jesus did—when you discover that you and God are one and that your mission on earth is to be a vehicle for unity and love—you will be satisfied. And so will we all.

8 comments:

Phil said...

As a Missourian I can assure you: we're not all skeptics. But this is a terrific "sermon," Rami.

Phil

Eruesso said...

I can't get no, satisfaction...

Karen said...

Well said! And, er, I was raised in Missouri, the daughter of protestant scientists so you can imagine that the "show me" thing was deeply implanted.

Lois said...

Amem

Rabbi Rami said...

Wow, four comments and two of them from Missourians. Is that a coincidence or are half of all my readers from Missouri?

Xanamnesis said...
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Xanamnesis said...
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Raul said...

The words of 9th century Zen master, Liu Chin come to mind: If you meet the Buddha on the road...kill him!

So let's add one more to the list!

As you taught us, messiahs come and go but the task of planting is always at hand...here and now.

Blessings and love from Miami.

Raul