This sermon was from May 18th, 2014. The text for the sermon is John 14:1-14. It also mentions a part in the 1995 film Hook, that reimagines the Peter Pan story. I’ve embedded the video below for reference.
I Am Home
My favorite movie of all time is a movie called Hook. It came out in ‘95, it’s a sort of reimagined sequel to Peter Pan. In this story, Peter Pan, contrary to his childhood promise, has grown up. He’s now Peter Panning, a high-powered lawyer with a two thousand dollar suit and two kids he doesn’t have time for. And one night, Captain Hook kidnaps Peter’s children, Jack and Maggie, to force a confrontation with his old nemesis.
Captain Hook hatches a plan to steal not just their bodies, but their hearts as well. While Peter Pan is off trying to learn what it is to be young again, Captain Hook is whispering into the children’s ears about every time their parents didn’t give them what they wanted, every missed baseball game or broken promise. He fans the flames of resentment in them, and he offers to give them all the attention they want.
So when the confrontation finally happens, when Peter Pan challenges Captain Hook to get back his children, he reaches his hand out to his son and says, “Come on Jack, let’s go home.” And Jack looks at his father and he takes a step back and he says, “I am home.”
It’s a sort of gut-wrenching moment. Jack is so caught up in Captain Hook’s promises that he doesn’t even recognize his father. He hasn’t even considered the Hook is more interested in making promises than keeping them.
It’s a gut-wrenching moment because it’s something that every single one of us has done. We find ourselves in trouble, a little distant from our Lord, and instead of holding on, we start listening to the voices around us that say “It’s not worth it” “It’s better over here” “You don’t need Him” “I can fill your needs better than He can.” And we start to live a life that is less than what it could be. We give up on our big dreams and we settle for manageable goals. And when we don’t even achieve that we distract ourselves with some new thing. A boat, a vacation, a TV show, something that keeps our mind off of the fact that we know there’s something more out there. We get into a rhythm of being distracted from our better selves and we get comfortable in that rhythm. And then when God comes to us and says, “Come home to me,” We stomp our feet and we say, “I am home. I like it here.” Just like Jack, we forget where home is. Home isn’t where we’re the most comfortable. Home is where we’re most loved.
In our passage for today Jesus is talking with his disciples about home, the place where we belong. He says he says I’m going to prepare a place for you. There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house. In other words, Jesus is saying that there is a place where you belong. That can be hard to believe sometimes, that there is a place for us. But this is the promise we have been given. No matter who you are, or how weird or odd or different or plain or normal or boring you might think you are, Jesus has gone ahead to prepare a place for you. It’s a place where you truly belong, a place you can call home. And Jesus says, “You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thank God for Thomas, right. Because he says what everyone else is thinking. “Lord, we don’t even know where you’re going. How can we know the way?” And Jesus’ response is one of those verses that is often quoted and rarely understood. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” What’s key here is that the way isn’t a direction, a road, or a set of rules. It’s a person. It’s Jesus Christ. That’s the primary difference between Christianity and all other religions. We don’t have a law to follow, or a set of instructions, or a philosophy or a system. Because in the end we fail whenever we try something like that. We have a person.
The problem is that a person, and specifically this person, Jesus, is open to different interpretations. The Bible shows us that. There isn’t one account of Jesus’s life; there are four, and they’re very different. When Constantine asked for a Bible and the bishops gathered together to decide what went in it, they could have just picked the best one, but they didn’t, because each of them told a different story, and each of those stories spoke to their communities in different ways. And then there’s the rest of it, Paul, and the author of Hebrews, and John of Patmos, all of these very different accounts and very different things that Jesus meant to these people and their communities.
But we don’t like things that are open to interpretation. That’s why so many people spend so much time trying to reconcile the different Gospel stories into one narrative. We want there to be a clear answer, one story, a system that guarantees results. We want to have control over the story. The Bible records all of these different voices saying this is who Jesus is to me, so that you can find who Jesus is for you.
But what we do is we find who Jesus is to us and we say, “Jesus means this to me, Jesus has to mean the exact same thing to you.” We say “No one comes to the Father except through Jesus,” but what we mean is “no one comes to the Father except through what Jesus means to me.”
Jesus said “I am the gate, who ever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.” But we like to think we’re the gate. We set up rules and we make hoops to jump through, and we tell people who’s in and who’s out. We act like gatekeepers. But the thing is we don’t own the place. Jesus goes to prepare a place for you. It is a place where you belong, but it doesn’t belong to you. You belong to him. And if there’s anything we know from Jesus’ ministry on earth it’s that the people who thought they could control who is in and who is out were almost always wrong.
Now Philip has a solution to all this. If you just give us the answer then we won’t have all of this confusion, all of these different meanings that Jesus can hold for people. “Show us the Father,” he says, “and we will be satisfied.” In Jesus’ answer he basically says, “Have you been listening, at all. This whole time I’ve been showing you the Father, in my teachings, in my actions. In everything I’ve done on this journey that you’ve walked with me you’ve seen the Father.” In other words, if you would just listen, you will find that you know the way home.
Listen to Jesus. Listen to his story. Told in 4 different ways by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and 4 million different ways by all the people they inspired. Listen to his teachings, and the story of the signs and wonders that he produced and through him listen to the Father who sent him.
And listen to your life. Listen for Jesus speaking to you now. What aches and pulls on your heart? What brings a tear to your eye? What uncomfortable truths are you hiding from? What deep needs are you afraid to acknowledge? What great dreams are you afraid to shoot for? Pay attention to these. Because somewhere in the middle. Somewhere in the intersection between Jesus’ life and your life, somewhere in the messy place where things don’t turn out the way we want them to, somewhere in the space between loving perfectly and being perfectly loved, is the place where we belong.
Pay attention so that when he comes to you and says “Come follow me,” you will know enough to recognize the way home.