Episcopal Church in Minnesota
Environmental Stewardship Commission
Lectionary Reflection
Year A, Easter 5, Gospel Lesson

John 14: 1-14

Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In 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? And 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. And you know the way to the place where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."

Philip said to him, "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. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it."

John 14: 1-14
by John Gibbs, Ph D

“Becoming People Who Are Safe for the World” (The Way to Greater Works)

Jesus’ “Farewell Discourse” (John14-16) begins here, followed by the “High Priestly Prayer” for the unity of the Church (John 17). Having washed the disciples’ feet, thereby setting his example for disciples’ behavior, and having been betrayed, Jesus begins his farewell meditation with his disciples. Two dominant motifs appear at the outset: The Way, and Greater Works.

“You know the way” (v. 4). “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (v. 6). That is sufficient to “show us the Father” (v. 8). Those who set out upon that Way will not only “do the works that I do,” but also will “do greater works than these” after Jesus’ departure (v. 12). The disciples are to live “in my name,” according to Jesus’ character (vv. 13-14). Prayer that bespeaks Jesus’ character is answered.

People who are on the road with a large-scale view, people of “the Way,” live out the qualities of Jesus’ character to such an extent that they “do greater works” than he did. According to the Fourth Gospel, Jesus claimed no less than that. If Jesus was more than “safe” for the world, what does that imply about our “greater works” on behalf of all God’s creatures?

If Jesus’ life was continuous with the prophetic tradition (John 1:23) and with Moses (John 5:45-47), so must and may our life be. The ecological covenant (Genesis 9:8-16) leads us to “greater works” of ecological responsibility. It is for us to respect the Sabbath rest of the land (Leviticus 25:3). The One through whom “all things came into being” (John 1:3) is well served only by people whose industry and ways of living are not only “safe” for the world, but also safeguard and tend and care for land, sea, air, and all creatures therein. Both implicitly and explicitly, we are commissioned to be ecologically responsible people.

To Reflections on other Readings for this Sunday:
Old Testament
Deuteronomy 6:20-25
Psalm 66
New Testament
1 Peter 2:1-10 or 
Acts 17:1-15
John 14:1-14
this page

John Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, attends Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN.   He originally wrote this reflection in 2002.  He and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the web site.

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