YESTERDAY we witnessed the coronation of a monarch for the first time in seventy years, and for the first time in many people’s lives. During the ceremony prayers were said asking God to bless the new King and Queen. In turn, the King and Queen made promises to serve God and His people. Everybody watching was also invited to join in a pledge of loyalty to the King and his heirs. Some of you may have chosen to do this, and others may have chosen not to do so. In our service today we will make a public statement, a communal declaration of our faith in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is what we are doing when we recite the Creed together — we are proclaiming our shared beliefs as Christians.

Today’s Gospel reading is taken from an important moment in Christ’s life and ministry. After the Last Supper, Jesus gives a number of farewell discourses to His disciples. Before Our Lord’s Passion and Death, He spends time talking to His followers, to set their hearts at ease and to prepare them for what is about to happen. Jesus begins by saying:

“Peidiwch â gadael i ddim gynhyru’ch calon. Creddwch yn Nuw, a chredwch ynof finnau.” “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” (Jn 14:1)

Our Lord is telling the disciples not to be afraid, and to put their trust in God, and also in Him. Fear and trust motivate people at the deepest level. However, trust casts out fear. Because God is trustworthy, and thanks to our relationship we rest secure in Him. We know that we are safe, that we are loved, and that we are cared for. This is the foundation upon which our spiritual life is built.

Jesus then develops His teaching:

“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (Jn 14:2)

The Father’s house is the Temple in Jerusalem, but the Temple is also Christ’s Body. Jesus goes to prepare a place for His disciples by going to the Cross on Good Friday. The word translated as ‘rooms’ means (in the original Greek) ‘somewhere to abide’. Christians are called to abide in Christ, in His Death and Resurrection. Our Lord prepares a place for us by dying and rising from the dead. We abide in Him by living the way of Jesus, following His example and His teaching, and putting them into practice in our lives.

Jesus’ teaching, however, leaves His disciples somewhat confused:

‘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 had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”’ (Jn 14:5-7)

His followers do not yet understand where Christ is going. This is because the reality of His Death and Resurrection is something they must experience before they can begin to comprehend it. We, by contrast, are in a better position than the disciples. We know where Jesus is going, and how He will get there. Our Lord refers to Himself as the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus is the way. The way that leads through death on the Cross to the new life of Easter. He is the way to life in all its fullness, and those who follow Him are said to be ‘on the Way’. Those persecuted by Saul in Acts 9:2 are described as such by Luke. Christians are people ‘on the way’, a pilgrim people, with Heaven as our true home. Jesus is the Truth. He is God, the source of all truth. We can have faith and put our trust in Him. Jesus is the Life. He is the Creator and source of all life. He offers us Eternal Life in Him, the new life of Easter, which we continue to celebrate.

Despite Our Lord’s statement that to know Him is to know the Father, His disciples are unable to understand what He means. So Philip asks: 

“Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” (Jn 14:8)

This leads Jesus to say:

“Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? 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 authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” (Jn 14:9-11)

When we see Jesus, we see God. When we hear Him speak, we hear the voice of God. When we see His works, we see the works of God. To know Jesus is to know God, and be in a relationship with Him, which finds its culmination with Him, forever in Heaven. 

Thus we can share the confidence of Peter, who writes to Christians who: 

‘like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.’ (1Peter 2:5)

The apostle Peter is the rock and he calls all the faithful, that is you and me, to be ‘living stones’, that is living temples of the Body of Christ.

‘But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.’ (1Peter 2:9)

Peter calls Jesus’ followers, the Church, to be holy, and set apart for service of God and of others. This is symbolised by the anointing with holy oil which forms a part of our baptism, the ordination of clergy, and the coronation of a King. We are united to Christ, we become His Body, and are nourished by Him so that we may be strengthened for service. Our royal identity comes from the King of Kings, the source of all earthly power. We plead the sacrifice which has reconciled God and humanity on the Cross. He who is the Word of God, who is the Living Bread, has come so that we may have life and have it to the full. We are nourished so that we may live lives characterised by proclamation of the Gospel, and the service of others, as shown by the calling of seven deacons in this morning’s first reading.

Let us then be living temples which proclaim Christ’s victory. Let us share the Good News of His Kingdom with others, so that all peoples may come to know and love God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. To whom be ascribed all, glory, dominion, and power, now and forever. Amen.

James Tissot – The Last Sermon of Our Lord (Brooklyn Museum)

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