The Rev’d Derek Arnold
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READING John 14.21-26
Jesus said,’ They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’ Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine but is from the Father who sent me. I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.’
How often do we think about the Holy Spirit, that great gift from the Father to us, which Jesus talks about in today’s Gospel? Jesus made a big promise that the Holy Spirit will teach and guide us in everything we do and say. But do we really rely on the Holy Spirit? Do we seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in moments of difficulty, and I guess especially in matters of faith?
And Judas, not the one who betrayed Jesus, asks that question many of us thinking, ‘What’s all this about?’ He is puzzled, perhaps bewildered, because the words of Jesus are not making any sense to him. And several times in the John’s gospel we hear of people being put off by Jesus’ words, because they are just too obscure.
Because the disciples were still expecting Jesus to establish an earthly kingdom and overthrow Rome, I would imagine they found it hard to understand why Jesus did not tell the world at large that he was the Messiah. But I think that many of them wouldn’t have believed it and didn’t really understand his message. Ever since Pentecost, the gospel of the kingdom has been constantly proclaimed but not everyone has received it.
It is hardly surprising that Jesus’ invitation to share God’s life and work is hard to grasp, for Judas and for us. Learning and understanding take time. But Jesus also promised that we will not be left in a state of frustrating perplexity. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would help them remember what he had been teaching them.
Afterall the disciples were the eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life and teaching, and the Holy Spirit helped them remember without taking away their personal perspective on what they had witnessed and experienced, therefore I believe we can be confident that the gospels are accurate records of what Jesus taught and did.
Judas asks Jesus why he will not reveal himself to the world and Jesus answers because the world does not love God. And then predicts for the second time about the coming the Holy Spirit who will clarify what Jesus has said and in that way, will preserve the authenticity of the Christian community.
Keeping the commandments are all different ways of loving God, and being love to all, in all circumstances. I believe how we keep them is a gauge of whether we love God or not. Jesus said that his followers show their love for him by their obedience to his teaching.
Letting ourselves to be loved unconditionally is about letting God take up residence in us, allowing him to work through us. His presence in us will be revealed through the fruits of the Spirit, that is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Do we feel that sense of God working through and in us?
your wounds declare your love for the world
and the wonder of your risen life:
give us compassion and courage
to risk ourselves for those we serve,
to the glory of God the Father.