Summary: Before his ascension, Jesus address the disciples and gives them parting words that will enable them to carry out the ministry to which he is calling them
John 14:23-29 “The Gift of Peace”
During this time between the resurrection of Jesus Christ and his ascension into heaven, the church has used the gospel of John to focus on Jesus’ personal teachings to his disciples. A few Sundays ago we talked about the final exams that Jesus gave his disciples along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Though the gospel lesson for today is found earlier in John’s gospel than the final exam passage, the words of Jesus remind me of a commencement address.
The time for graduation has come. There are only a few opportunities left for Jesus to say something to the disciples before they hit the road and begin the mission on which he has sent them. Jesus chooses his words carefully.
As a parent, what would you say to your son or daughter has he or she heads down the aisle to receive his or her diploma and start a new chapter of his or her life?
Jesus tells his disciples that if anyone loves him that person will obey Jesus’ commandments. We know, as well as the disciples, what the commandments of Jesus are. They can be summed up in one word, “Love.” Jesus tells his disciples to live love.
To speak the words, “I love you,” is easy. Jesus knows this. Actions are more difficult than words, but the also carry more weight. Actions speak louder than words.
Today is Mother’s Day. Mother’s have flowers, candies, fragrances, jewelry and other items showered upon them. Mother’s are taken to dinner and made to feel like “Queens for a Day.” If these gifts and activities of today are the capstone of a year of days filled with love and care, if words have been backed up with actions, then this is truly a day when Mom is honored. If it isn’t, most Mothers will receive the diamond necklace with a smile, but mutter under their breath, “I’d much rather have you clean your room on a regular basis without me having to get on your case, or have you take out the garbage without me having to ask you a dozen times.
It is easy to look at the cross of Christ and say, “I love you Jesus.” It is much more of a challenge to faithfully act in love toward the people around us. It is especially difficult for us to allow the Holy Spirit to integrate the teachings of Jesus into our lives as well as our heads, and to bear the fruit of the Spirit—the characteristics of God—in our lives. It is much easier to simply say, “I love you Jesus,” during Sunday morning worship, and ignore the implications of loving God and our neighbor after twelve noon on Sunday.
Jesus then assures his disciples that they will not be alone even though he will be leaving them. The Father will send them the Holy Spirit he tells them. To paraphrases Jesus’ words, the disciples need to stay connected.
These are words that every parent knows. Before any graduate takes a step into the future, every parent will grab him or her by the shoulder, pull him or her close, and whisper into his or her ear, “Remember to call, whatever you do don’t forget to call.”
The Holy Spirit is God’s presence in us. We receive the Holy Spirit at the time of our baptism, or when we respond to God’s grace and receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior. The Spirit has two purposes in our lives.
1. The Holy Spirit will teach us all things. Life in Christ is an ongoing educational experience. We never stop learning or growing. The Holy Spirit uses our life experiences, both the difficulties and the blessings, to teach us and to draw us closer to God.
2. The Holy Spirit will also bring to mind Jesus teachings. In order to remember we first must have been exposed to the teaching. This is not a process of osmosis; rather it is a process of study. Imagine that you are facing a huge test for class. You’ve been fairly faithful in your attendance, only skipping a few classes. But, you have never cracked the book. Do you think that you will be reminded of the right answers when the Scantron sheet is in front of you? There is a greater likelihood of your remembering the right answers if you read the book and studied its content. The Holy Spirit reminds us, during times of trial, what we have learned.
DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF
Finally, Jesus tells his disciples that he is giving them the gift of peace, and encourages them to use it. He says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”