So many questions. So much uncertainty. Shaken, frightened, bewildered disciples of Jesus are listening to him 'explain' what's ahead. He's told them he won't be with them much longer. And they are understandably upset at the thought that their dear friend, their Master, is leaving them so soon. Little could they know all that would mean in the manner of his leaving: his betrayal by one of their own, the abruptness of his arrest, the mockery of his 'trial' followed by the violence of his death by crucifixion. But what they do know now is their questions. And their desperation to comprehend.
One thing Jesus says is crystal clear and comprehensible, or at least it seems that way. 'If you love me, you will obey my commands'. Simple and straight forward. Yet.... What commandments has Jesus given? What has Jesus actually commanded? Only one thing: love. The commandment he gave his friends as they finished their meal together and as Judas had already gone out into the night to betray Jesus. 'A new commandment I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another.' (John 13:34) And now he says, ‘If you love me, you will obey…’
Sounds clear. Love for Jesus is expressed by love for each other. Clear. Simple. But definitely not easy. The love Jesus calls for is the love he shows, the love he gives. What that looks like in terms of Jesus love for us is his gift of himself. What does that mean in practical terms for you and me? For us as a community? How can we do this?
Perhaps, knowing how clearly he's spoken, Jesus also knows how difficult it is for us. And so he follows with such profoundly hope-full assurance that his friends won't be left on their own to do what he commands. They will not be abandoned— they will be accompanied by the Spirit. His Spirit, that he will ask the Father to send to them, and remain with them always.
Such words of comfort and hope. Yet...not really comprehensible. Not really for those listening to Jesus then, nor really for us now. For Jesus is speaking here of the mystery of the Trinity, the God who makes himself known to us in the person of Jesus, the God who called creation into being, and sustains all that is, the God who breathes his life into us by his Spirit. God with us, God beyond us. God before us, beneath and above us. God who makes himself known yet who is beyond our comprehension.
'...I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long ,the world will not seem me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
Surely we cannot read these words of Jesus with full 'comprehension'. Yet we can hold his words in hope, for they are words that point us to the mystery of the God we are invited to trust.
My prayer this morning is that we may we look to Him who holds us in his Grace and Love, and that his grace and love would so fill our hearts that His love may overflow in love for one another.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Eph.3.20)