Summary: Year C Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 20th, 2001 John 14: 23-29
Year C Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 20th, 2001 John 14: 23-29
Title: “Do not let your hearts be troubled”
Jesus is in the midst of his farewell address to his disciples. The overriding theme at this point is his departure from them and his sending the Paraclete to take his place.
The Synoptics tell us that Jesus spoke to his disciples at their final meal together, but John has the discourse spanning five chapters. He presents Jesus as delivering one final packaged message that, in fact, contains material the Synoptics have scattered throughout his public ministry. Put in the form of a “farewell message” the material has a timeless value, so it speaks to all Christians of all ages and conditions. The urgency of the imminent coming of the kingdom preached in the Synoptics is replaced by the urgency of Jesus’ imminent death and the “coming of the kingdom” is replaced by the coming of the Spirit. The Spirit or Paraclete does not become incarnate, as Christ did, but dwells in all who keep Jesus’ commandments. His stay with them is not temporary but permanent. The Spirit will be Jesus himself in a different form. He will teach them, counsel them, console them and will be recognized by them in the peace they experience. This peace is Jesus’ gift to them. So is his Spirit. They are one and the same reality.
John has put together in this chapter; once independent sayings of Jesus about divine presence and divine indwelling. Jesus speaks of the indwelling of the Spirit (14: 15-17), Jesus himself (14: 18-22), and the Father (14: 23-24). This is the same divine reality or presence, experienced by the Christian in different forms.
In verse twenty-three, “Those who love me will keep my word,” “Love” (agape) is synonymous with “keeping my word.” It is not a feeling but an attitude that exists in an atmosphere, the atmosphere created by awareness of the divine indwelling. “Word” is synonymous with “commandment.” It includes, but is broader than, specific directives. “Keeping the word” is enfleshing the presence, the divine indwelling, by relating to others with the same attitude as God does.
“My Father will love them,” that is, will treat them as they treat others.
“We will come to them,” Jesus’ focus, at this point, is on the Father and Son as a unit, but it will shortly include and involve the Spirit as well. In verse twenty-one, Jesus said, “I will love him and reveal myself to him.” Now, the Father is included. “Coming to him,” “loving him,” “revealing to him,” and “dwelling in him” are all different ways of saying the same thing. This indwelling is neither available to the world nor confined only to a few. It is open to all who meet the above stipulations. It is not a mystical experience of the esoteric kind, for that would not be accessible to all. It is like what Paul means by being “in Christ,” only the focus is reversed to being “Christ in us.” The Greek word translated as “dwelling” is mone, not a geographical place but a condition. It is the same word used in John 14:2, “rooms,” to indicate the inner beings, the souls, of Christians.
In verse twenty-four, this repeats the ideas in verse twenty-three, in the negative. The absence of love is caused by the absence of hearing and keeping the word of Jesus which, in turn, comes from the Father. In John 3: 16 the Father’s love caused him to send his Son into the world. Now this love causes the Father and Son to send themselves into the Christian.
In verse twenty-six the Advocate, the Holy Spirit: “Advocate” translates the Greek, paracletos, literally “the one called alongside.” It is a term for a lawyer, really a defense attorney, although in John more of a prosecutor. It also means an intercessor, helper, consoler, and counselor. In verse sixteen, Jesus referred to him as “another Counselor,” meaning that the Holy Spirit will take the place of the absent Jesus. He will perform the same functions that Jesus did while in the flesh.
“Whom the Father will send in my name,” that is, as Jesus’ representative. The same Father who sent Jesus will now send Jesus again in the form of the Holy Spirit. Jesus bore God’s name because he was the revelation of God to humans. Now the Spirit is sent in Jesus’ name because he is the revelation of Jesus, unfolding the meaning of his words across time.
“He will teach you everything,” the sentence continues with “and remind you of all that I have said to you,” which means the same thing. “Teach” and “remind” are equivalents. It is not that there will be new teaching or more teaching, but that the presence of the Spirit will prompt the memory to remember what Jesus taught and the mind to interpret his teaching in new situations, learning the full or fuller meaning of Jesus’ words. “He” means that this spirit is more than a tendency or influence, a neutral or neuter force. “He” is the means and substance of a continuing personal relationship with the Divine. “Of all that I told you” hearkens back to verse twenty-five, “I have told you this while I am still with you,” and interprets it to mean all that Jesus taught either by word or example. Now, the Spirit will ensure and empower the correct interpretation for new and unforeseen situations. Jesus’ teaching is not locked into a particular time or framework. It is for all time and times. The Spirit will see to it that its relevance and power are unlocked.