For the first 3 and a half years of my ministry, I was single.
And I lived on my own.
And I enjoyed it.
For the most part.
I could do what I wanted.
When I wanted.
I could watch what I wanted and stay up as late as I wanted.
It got pretty lonely.
It was hard sometimes to come home to an empty place.
And then I met Kristen.
We fell in love.
We got married.
And after living the single life, I was ready for this new adventure called Matrimony.
I was looking forward to my new dwelling place.
My life was not solitary anymore.
But our Gospel passage helps me realize something.
I was never alone.
The 14th chapter of John is part of a section called The Farewell Discourse.
This discourse is five chapters long, beginning with the 13th chapter and ending with the 17th.
Chapter 13 features the last supper shared between Jesus and his disciples, Jesus washing the feet of the disciples, , and the revelation that Judas has turned traitor (13:30).
That is a lot to soak in , but what compounds the issue for the disciples is Jesus then reveals what is about to happen to him.
And as I read this discourse, I tend to believe that the disciples are trying to deal with the life-changes they are experiencing.
A fellow disciple has joined the bad guys.
Jesus their teacher had washed the feet of his students.
He talks about his upcoming death.
And the disciples are not handling it very well.
I mean, can you blame them?
They are looking at a future where they are going to be left all alone with no place to go.
And I believe they wonder “where God is in all this?”
So in Chapter 14, in our Gospel reading today, Jesus offers his disciples words of comfort, hope, and promise.
And he also offers them a place.
A dwelling place.
Now John 14 is often read at funerals.
Because there is something comforting in knowing that Jesus has prepared a place for us, his followers, for when our time on earth is done.
BUT there is more to this passage than a promise of a future home.
Jesus is promising the disciples and us a place now.
In our lives.
The dwelling place that Jesus offers …is himself.
What does that mean?
It means that Jesus is not abandoning anyone.
He is not just preparing a place for the future.
He is preparing a dwelling place for the present.
And with this place comes a relationship with God.
Now you talk about all the surprises in John 13 (footwashing, death predictions, and betrayals),
Well Jesus gives the disciples ANOTHER surprise in our passage.
Philip asks for a sign that they have seen God The Father.
And this is the surprise,
Jesus says, “You are looking at him!”
For three years, God has been right there.
Waiting for the disciples to open their eyes and see who was with them!
The disciples had not just become friends with Jesus, their Rabbi.
They had become friends with GOD!
There had never been a moment when they were WITHOUT God!
You see this dwelling place meant they were not living alone.
They were living with God!
And for a frightened group of men who had no idea what the future held for them, this dwelling place offered them comfort, hope, and relationship.
And so as I read this passage I realize now more than ever that in the days I thought I was alone, God was with me.
God was present in the phone calls with mom and dad,
The time I spent with my congregations, especially the Youth,
The people I met at the local bookstores and the gym who became my friends,
The music that would capture my heart and not let go.
And God is still with me.
I hear and see God every day in the voice of my wife, the coos of my son,the singing of this congregation, and the phone calls & texts from family and friends.
What does this mean for us?
It means that God is with us now.
Each and every one of us.
Think of all the people, places, and moments that make you feel alive, that make you smile, that make you feel loved.
And those are the moments where God says, “I’ve been right here the whole time.”
We cannot evict God from our lives.
And so we have to learn what it means to dwell WITH an ever-present God.
For it is a constant relationship.
And too often we forget that.
I believe it can help to think of the dwelling place not as a “place” like a house, but the place where we are in the warm and safe arms of our Father.
The great thing about the Dwelling Place is that it is not stationary.
It can move around.
It can go wherever we go.
And it can be wherever we need to be.
And just as God offers us this place near him, we are called, we NEED to offer this same place to the world around us.
Too many people feel abandoned.
Too many people feel unloved.
Too many people feel scared.
They need a safe place.
They need THE safe place.
And there is only one person who offers this place.
It is the person we have come to worship this morning.
And as we leave this place, do not let your hearts be troubled.
Because wherever we go, Jesus goes with us.
Because that is what He does.
You have heard people say “Let Jesus into your hearts.”
But today, I invite you to “enter in the dwelling place that Jesus has made for you.”