Elvis has left the building
John 14 v5-14
“Elvis has left the building” used to be announced at the end of Elvis Presley’s concerts to encourage his hysterical fans to accept that there would be no further encores and to go home. The first known use of ‘Elvis has left the building’ was printed in the DETROIT TIMES, 23/11/56:
“Presley gave his guitar a final bang, flung it from his shoulder and fled the stage seconds ahead of the mob. Outside, a car waited, with door open and motor running. By this time, his press agent, Oscar Davis, was on the stage. He grabbed the microphone and yelled:
“Elvis has left the building. Hold it. Hold it. Elvis is gone.”
The Kelsey Grammer sitcom ‘Frasier’ used a play on the line at the end of each show – “Frasier has left the building.”
Elvis, Frasier and THE CHURCH HAS NOW LEFT THE BUILDING!
John writes his gospel to communicate that Jesus is the fulfilment of the Temple. He still is. The Temple will fall. Jesus predicts that. The glory of God is in Jesus not the Temple. Jesus is the presence of God and the centre for all activity under heaven and on earth.
Jesus announces he is leaving them. He is only a young man but it is time to go. Jesus will leave the building soon.
Thomas thinks geographically, v5 ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ 6 Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’
Philip is thinking supernaturally, v8-14 Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’ Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
The answer to Philip is you have what you want but you cannot see.
The world calls to the Church, ‘Show us your God’ and then tries to fit the God they want into their own frame of thinking.
The Church cries to God, ‘Show us your glory’ and then does the same.
Don’t you know? Haven’t you seen? Will you not believe?
The Church has left the building for the first time since anyone can remember.
What does the world see?
Jesus says it has to be two things: His words and works that bring people to know God.
May our words not be our own, v10
May we dwell in God and He in us, v11
May our works be His works, v12
Isn’t that amazing?
Then we read something even better than that. We can ask for anything and He will do it! But we know that’s not strictly true. Because not only has Elvis left the building but our loved ones have too. Our friend, spouse, parent and child, we asked but they didn’t stay. That ask wasn’t just anything it was something really special, very important. Easter Sunday has just gone, it can be a very difficult day to rejoice in the Resurrection when the loved one died. Why didn’t they stay in the building? Why did they have to leave? It is because when we ask we ‘ask in my name’, v14.
Jesus would ask that very night in the garden of Gethsemane. ‘I don’t want to go’.
In my name means according to His will, not ours; His word, not ours; His glory; not ours. Asking God for something can in fact be the most submissive and painful thing to ever do! Only the brave ask God in His name.
Jesus tells his disciples they will do even greater things. How is that possible to do anything greater than even just one of the miracles of Jesus?
Well Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God in Judea and Galilee and his disciples would go to the ends of the earth; Jesus had hundreds of followers when he left the building but within 40 days they would be gathering thousands; in a few years the gospel would end up in Rome of all places but 2,000 years later it is now all over the world.
What Jesus is saying is this, when I leave this building, it isn’t over, go further.
Elvis has left the building. Jesus has left the building and maybe you’re loved one has too.
We don’t all leave at the same time though we would want to. One day someone will mourn you leaving the building too.
In lockdown the CHURCH has left the building and the message is the same. It isn’t over!
We carry on, we go further, we have more experiences, we carry the words and the works until the day comes and we too leave the building.