Resurrection was to be a way of life.
Such a life opened peoples’ experiences to new possibilities. It gave far greater meaning to things he had taught. In Jesus words, ‘You will do greater things than I have done.’
One significantly new boundary his resurrection crossed was the way people came to view the afterlife. Jesus had taught little about this subject in his lifetime. He had brought Jairus’ daughter back to life as he had similarly done for Lazarus. His appearances were still within this realm of creation.
But one passage of scripture that recorded his earlier teaching did have enormous implications. It opened the picture of a life that extended way beyond the grave.
This had been a dilemma for humans from the earliest times of history. When people died such experience was surrounded by ritual to deal with one of life’s greatest challenges. As examples…Graves with food and treasures from this world were buried with the deceased to be used for the next life; Jewish belief spoke of people entering into a deep sleep in the expectation of rising for the final judgement.
Jesus story of resurrection brought a new perspective with a clear message of love. We learn a lot from this well-read passage from John.
In my father’s house are many rooms. Like all other teachings this passage has a catch to it. His image is figurative and not descriptive. It is to be understood as spiritual and therefore of mind and heart. It refers to spiritual experience and not a physical place.
The context is a conversation between Jesus and the disciples just prior to his death when he begins to warn them of his departure. It is the normal experience of grief in the loss of a loved one. But Jesus vision is grand and he wants to give them reason for the greatest sense of hope.
He surrounds his teaching in the image of a home, the home of God. Homes are generally treasured places. That place of belonging and protection and comfort. Its nature is expansive. In my Father’s house are many rooms.
We are invited to imagine an infinite array of possibilities. This verse has often made me think of the common scientific belief in multi-verses whatever they may be. Where Jesus differs is that his focus is on the personal and relational experience which is the essence of the spiritual.
HE EMPHASISES THE GODLY NATURE OF THIS HOME
He emphasises the relational nature of this home of God. He tells the disciples that he goes to prepare our place, then greats us at the door and shows us around so that we may feel at home. Once again we should not fall into the trap of thinking literally and in earthly human pictures but get the sense of dwelling in a loving, purposeful and personal relational state of being.
THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE
For the disciples, this still seems like a remote and distant reality, because they are thinking literally. They ask about the way.
And Jesus emphasises the link is in the state of mind, that we describe as the essence of spirituality. He declares, ‘I am the way the truth and the life.
As usual, Jesus teaching is stimulative rather than prescriptive. He wants us to think of his meaning.
I am the way…
The way of the cross.
It is the way of self-giving love even in the face of the most destructive opposition.
I am the truth..
The truth requires an open-ness to the totality of reality.
A partial picture of creation is subject to turning life into self-serving idols.
I am the Life
The myriad of possible life experiences is hard to imagine, but each in its own way can become a goal in its own right simply satisfying our ego and personal needs. For Jesus life is the expression of the divine spirit that he spoke of as like a river of living water rising up from our inner depths. It is an abundance of spirit that truly fulfils the human experience.
Together these three: The way, the truth and the life, were for Jesus the pathways that brought the Christ-ness to life within us in the here and now. But in such a way that not even death can extinguish it.
It seems to be a common belief these days for people to declare that there is nothing beyond the grave. Jesus primary goal was to have us learn the way of resurrection in the here and now. But in love he gave his disciples a hint of the fulness of this way of life, but with the assurance that it has no limit.
This infinite vision is what we have come to speak of as heaven. It is the ultimate vision of the affirmation of the gift of life.