Easter 5 :: Getting to Heaven

CRW 0252

Dappled Light

“No one comes to the Father except through me.”

There is a kind of US vs. THEM attitude when considering the afterlife. We want to get to heaven, but we sure as heck don't want our enemies to get there. We very much like the thought that heaven is special and that only the most spiritually fit will get in. God forbid if someone we detest is seen in heaven! That would somehow diminish our efforts. And it’s that way with all sorts of things in society: gay marriage, unfettered wealth, great achievement in sports, or success at work. If we see others we don't agree with [or don't like] doing these things, we think it somehow diminishes us and the efforts we have taken in life. Could this be behind the idea that "Jesus is the only way to heaven; everyone else is going to hell”?

Now, certainly there are those for whom every word in scripture is writ large from the very hand of God and, therefore, is to be taken at face value as true [and factual]. If this describes you, you probably should not finish reading this!

Taken out of context, these words of Jesus seem to make it clear that the only way to get to Heaven [where God is] is through belief in him. Those who follow another belief system, even if that system is belief in the one God [Jews, Muslims, Zoroastrians, etc.] will simply not get to heaven.

But what if you look at this passage within the context of Jesus’ life and witness? What kind of God does Jesus proclaim? A God of wrath? A God of eternal punishment? A God of “no-second-chances”? Hardly! The God Jesus reveals to us is a God of love, of mercy, and of forgiveness. This is not good news to those who want God to be exclusive.  But it is wonderful news for everyone else!

So maybe, just maybe, that “no one comes to the Father except through me” bit means that through the witness of Jesus we have come to know God in a new way. And this God is a God of love. Now that’s Good News to share!

Something to ponder:

What kind of God has Jesus revealed to you?

Link to RCL Lectionary for Easter 5

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