"Satisfied" – John 14:1-14
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” 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 know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? 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; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
Maybe I’ve been listening to too much of the Hamilton soundtrack lately, but I couldn’t get my attention away from the word “satisfied” in this morning’s Gospel. (“You will never be satisfied… you will never be satisfied.” It’s a recurring theme for Alexander Hamilton in the play.)
And it shows up for Philip and for Thomas, this morning, too: “Lord, show us the Father and we will be satisfied.” “Show us the Father and it will be enough; we will be content; it will be sufficient; that’ll do it.” Jesus, of course, calls b.s. on that assertion. “Where have you been, Philip?” “What have you been up to?” “Have you not been paying attention?”
“I’ve been with you all this time. Everything I say and do comes from the Father that dwells within me. If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father, believe it or not.”
It reminds me that what keeps us looking for, searching for, longing for a better, clearer glimpse of God in the world around us has more to do with us – and our ability to pay attention to what’s right before our eyes – than it does with the God we pretend isn’t loud or clear or present or active enough, or as much as we’d like.
In addition to Hamilton, the idea of what it means to be “satisfied” reminds me of that moment in the Jewish Seder celebration when those gathered around the table recount all the ways God has been present and available to them over the course of their history as a people. The word they repeat, over and over again, is “Da’yanu,” which means something like “it would have been enough,” or “we would have been satisfied.” The litany goes something like this:
Had God taken us out of Egypt without bringing judgments against our captors… Da’yanu – it would have been enough, we would have been satisfied.
Had God brought judgments against them without carrying us across the Sea… Da’yanu – it would have been enough, we would have been satisfied.
Had God carried us across the Sea without caring for us for forty years in the wilderness… Da’yanu – it would have been enough, we would have been satisfied.
Had God cared for us for forty years and not fed us with manna… Da’yanu – it would have been enough, we would have been satisfied.
Had God fed us with manna… given us the gift of the Sabbath… brought us to Sinai and given us the Law… carried us to the Promised Land… Da’yanu – it would have been enough, we would have been satisfied.
You get the picture: freedom from slavery would have been enough; the parting of the Red Sea would have been enough; the manna from heaven, the 10 Commandments, the Promised Land, each of them alone would have been enough to satisfy them with the idea that God was on their side. Da’yanu.
In retrospect, any step along the way “would have been enough,” to see just how generous and kind and merciful God had been. And for a people like the Jews, to ritually recount the gracious deeds of God for themselves, in the face of generation upon generation of suffering in this world, to remember what “enough” is, seems like a faithful exercise in perspective about it all.
So, Thomas and Philip, in today’s Gospel, remind me about how insatiable we are; how unsatisfied, how unsatisfiable we can be; how much more we demand than what has already been given, revealed, broken, poured out, crucified, raised to new life, for crying out loud, before we are satisfied. “We don’t know where you’re going…” “Show us the way…” “Show us the Father…” “…and that would be enough...” (“…and that would be enough…”
It’s funny to me that this passage from John’s Gospel shows up as often as it does on Mother’s Day – with all of its talk about “the Father’s house,” and what it means to “come to the Father through Jesus,” and Philip’s request that Jesus “show us the way to the Father.”
Because in so many ways, when moms get it right, they are the ones who show us the way to the Father…God, that is; the maker of heaven and earth; the Creator of the Universe, I mean. When they get it right, mothers are the ones who embody the works and the will of the Creator, in ways that Jesus describes.
Love… generosity… compassion… goodness… nurture… grace… mercy… forgiveness…
And too much of the time, we can be with God, like small children can be with their mommy’s; like Philip and Thomas were with Jesus: insatiable; ungrateful; always wanting more; always needing to see to believe; to have it made clear what this life of faith is supposed to look and feel and be like, no matter how much or how many times we’ve already seen or experienced it. And we have seen it…
I saw it last week when I was able to help a man with his electric bill, from discretionary money some of you have provided.
I see it each time someone comes to get groceries from our food pantry.
I saw it last week when one of our Partners in Mission showed up, unsolicited, to discuss setting up another fund of money so that no one would have to pass on an event or activity around here because they couldn’t afford it.
I saw it when our community came together to celebrate and remember the short, sweet little life of Brody Stephens.
I saw more of it here, when we at Cross of Grace opened our doors and extended ourselves to Brody’s family as they grieved more privately and remembered their little boy in this place.
Love… generosity… compassion… goodness… nurture… grace… mercy… forgiveness...
All of those things are ways to the Father… ways to new life… the ways of faith… the ways of Jesus… God’s presence in our lives… God’s providence for the sake of the world.
Our call in these Easter days is to stop pretending we haven’t seen it; to stop neglecting to notice it when it happens in our midst; to open our eyes to see the grace and good news that occurs in and around and through our very lives; to be satisfied that it really is enough… more than enough… da’yanu, even… and that it is worth sharing, in the name of Jesus, crucified and risen for the sake of the world.