Monday, May 12, 2014

Marrying Into God's Family

Bernini's Ecasty of St. Teresa of Avila
In the gospel this week Jesus focuses on where we are going. He is talking about heaven but he does not really use the language of heaven. He uses the language of marriage and of family. Fr Dwight has a piece a while back that clarifies the one line of "in my father's house are many mansions." 
During the betrothal year the boy would build a place for him and his bride to live–this was usually a room which was an addition to his father’s house. Then after about a year he would come with his groomsmen at night in a torchlight process to the bride’s house. She would be waiting there with her bridesmaids, not knowing when exactly he was to come. Then the cry would go up, “The bridegroom is coming!” and the bride and her maids would go out to meet him and process back to his house with her family and the whole village in order for the wedding to take place. After the wedding the marriage was consummated in the new home he had built for his bride and the wedding supper lasted for a whole week.
Fr Dwight quotes this verse a bit later in his post but does mention that the Greek word for mansion here typically refers to this whole scenario of a room being prepared by the man for the him and his bride to live in. So this idea that Jesus is going to prepare a place for us is really marriage talk. He is the way to the Father. Through a covenant with Jesus we enter into a family relationship with the Father. We join the family of Jesus and all the benefits of kinship.

This is what Jesus means by "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." A relationship with Jesus implies a relationship with the Father. It is marriage-like in that it involves a gift of your entire self. Every hope and dream you had either becomes something you hope or dream together or something that no longer matters. 

Jesus then indicates how He lives in total dependence on the Father. "The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works." 

He says that more often. In John 5:19 He says, "Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise." 

Then in verse 30 He says, " I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgement is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me."
These are radical statements. Jesus is the second person of the Godhead and He says He can do nothing without the Father. Then how much should we be willing to do without God? It is a hard thing to get your mind around. 

The Father image is apt. God gives us everything the way an earthly father gives his child everything. Yet children are often focused on manipulating their parents into giving them what they want. Their parents give them everything and they don't see it. They eat their parents food and sleep in their parents house and wear their parents clothes. Even the money they call their own is just allowance from their parents. Yet their focus is on how can I get them to give me this toy that I want? They try and ask in the right way. They try be extra good when mom and dad are watching. 

We can live that way with God. We just focus on what we are trying to get from God. We don't just live in a trust relationship with Him. If we learn to do that Jesus has another promise for us.
Amen, amen, I say to you,whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,and will do greater ones than these,because I am going to the Father.
What Jesus did while on earth did not constantly access his divine power. What He did was what a human can do when living in perfect harmony with God. We can access all of that power. The only thing that stops us is our own sin. In some ways the works we do are greater because we are sinners. God's raw power does not give Him as much glory as His ability to work in a loving way with people like us and empower us to do good works. Not overpowering us and making us puppets but loving us into submission and getting us to want to work with Him. 

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