John 14:1-14 (spring AD 30, Thursday evening of Passion Week)
As Jesus spoke the words, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me” (v.1) he knew that he was minutes from arrest and hours from death. His primary concern was for the welfare of his disciples, even as Peter (per Mark 14:27-31) was focusing on the prediction of denying he knew Jesus, while completely ignoring the prophecy of Jesus’ own suffering and death. Bear in mind, for all his obvious faults, Peter was a God-fearing man and yet he failed to look past his own concerns to see the bigger picture of Christ’s sacrifice. That throws into stark relief Jesus’ concern for his friends – and not a forced concern but an instinct, strengthened from a lifelong habit of intentional loving, to put other people’s concerns before his own. Even when his own situation was much more serious.
Don’t take this as a stern, ‘Would you care about others or yourself in this situation?’. That’s a futile question – you have no way of knowing. Rather, take it as a challenge to nurture a deep love for your brothers and sisters in Christ by praying for them, encouraging them, commending them to others and showing a practical concern for them. Don’t ask yourself what you would do in that situation, just get on and love people. As you deliberately love people, whether you feel it or not, and especially when you don’t, your attitude of love will grow.
Philip’s error in verse eight was the classic of trying to bypass Jesus and get your paradise ticket stamped. In this case Philip still couldn’t get his head around Jesus’ claims to be God, but seemed to see him merely as a very impressive, very godly, god-sent…man. In common with most or all the other disciples, he didn’t realise or fully accept that Jesus was God until after our Saviour rose from the dead.
This idea of skipping Jesus, or treating him as nothing more than a means to an end, may be as prevalent in our hearts as it ever was in Philip’s. At least in his case there was a genuine failure to understand (albeit he should have understood, as Jesus was repeatedly clear about his identity and intentions). For us, although we may all explicitly reject the heresy of the prosperity non-gospel, is Jesus really our master and friend, or mainly and merely the guy who gets us access to the decision maker?
Ask God to help you see your own attitude, and rededicate yourself to nurturing a relationship rather than merely following a lifestyle.