Reader: “Since I live,”
Response: “you also will live.”
Scripture: John 14:18-31
No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”
Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?”
Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.
“I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Once again, there is so much that could be said concerning these verses. Jesus is having this conversation with his disciples on Maundy Thursday merely hours before his crucifixion. The disciples are picking up that Jesus is going to leave them and they are afraid. Thomas had just asked where Jesus was going and Jesus had responded with, “I am the way, the truth, and the life . . .” Remember, these men had been living and traveling with Jesus for three years and now they would be left alone. He was their security.
Jesus assured the men that they would not be abandoned but that he would come to them. It appears clearly that he was telling them that he would come to them again after the resurrection. They were still trying to process that he would be killed. It is also very obvious that they were not expecting his resurrection. We listen as they struggle to grasp what is happening. There are gaps they are unable to fill.
There is an insightful section where Jesus talks about his being “in the Father and you are in me and I am in you.” Jesus is endeavoring to help them (and us) understand a basic and most significant truth. What is he saying? All persons who believe in Jesus are indwelt by the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. On becoming a Christian, one receives the indwelling Trinity. In the First Testament, God’s presence with his people was between the cherubim above the Ark of the Covenant in the Tabernacle. Later on when the Temple replaced the Tabernacle, God continued to reside above the Ark in the Holy of Holies. People travelled to Jerusalem to be near the presence of God (cf. Psalm 84). Now Jesus is explaining that God’s dwelling place is in the hearts of people! To those who love and obey God, Jesus will reveal himself. How is your love and obedience going? How is Jesus revealing himself to you? This truth didn’t end at the end of chapter fourteen of John!
The disciples are thinking this conversation applies just to them so one of them asks a question. Why will the Messiah only be manifested to them and not everyone else?
Jesus’ response is that the manifestation is spiritual, therefore, it is available to everyone. Obedience is at the heart. Obedience is not a matter of keeping the rules, but obedience to what Christ has said. Obedience is a demonstration of love. To this point, the disciples had demonstrated their love for Jesus by leaving all behind and following him for a few years. But now he is physically leaving them.
In Jesus’ absence, the Father is sending the Advocate, the Holy Spirit whose role will be different. He comes as a teacher to remind the disciples what Jesus has said. Prior to Pentecost, which was still in the future at this point fifty-some days away, the Holy Spirit had come upon people for specific events or tasks, but was not continually indwelling. But with the events of Easter and Pentecost, the dwelling place of God, moved from the Temple to the human heart of the believer. The Holy Spirit was the everpresent guardian, teacher, encourager, guide, and comforter.
Jesus then gave his disciples and us the most wonderful gift―peace of mind and heart. This was a kind of peace not found anywhere in this world. Nothing known to man can produce it, not power, wealth, love, time, patience, strength, looks, or health. Nothing. This is complete peace with God. And it comes from him as a gift. In the disciples’ anxiety and fear of being left alone, Jesus told them ahead of time what would happen to him in order to give them peace. And his peace came from the assurance of the presence of God in their lives. They would not be alone.
Our passage concludes in a very matter-of-fact manner; it almost sounds like the end of a phone call! “I don’t have much more time to talk. My appointment with death has arrived.” Notice Jesus’ calmness and peace throughout this whole conversation. We see firsthand the presence of God functioning in a dreadful crisis. The Father, Son, and Spirit are one, functioning in perfect harmony. That same perfect functioning community is available to every believer every moment of every day, today included! Such is the peace of God beyond understanding.
Music: “Peace I Leave with You” Kantorei of Kansas City
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following
your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. Amen
―The Road Ahead – Thomas Merton