Sixth Sunday of Easter

by Crossings

PARTING PEACE
John 14:23-29
(The Sixth Sunday of Easter)
analysis by Al Jabs


23Jesus 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. 24Whoever 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. 25 I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26But 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. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 28You heard me say to you, `I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.


DIAGNOSIS: Apart, and Homeless

Step 1–Initial Diagnosis: Not keeping (not loving) the Word
The text begins with an answer to a question that we do not hear: The question of Judas (not Iscariot), “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” God reveals Himself through Jesus, but some reject His message. Jesus has an even sharper critique of such rejection: it is not keeping, and not loving, the Word that he brings from the Father (the Word that he is!). Lest we think it is only the problem of those outside the Christian community, we might be helpfully reminded that even we may not grasp this Word. Think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Cheap Grace!” Thrust in the time between the Lord we came from and the Lord to whom we are going, we may tend to follow the charms and instincts of this world along the way. How will we find our way home?

Step 2–Advanced Diagnosis: Troubled and afraid
The disciples’ hearts are troubled and afraid. Their troublesome spirit is a concession that there may be more to the prevailing backdrop of the world’s rejection–that it is not only the bark, but the bite of the world’s hostility that is to be feared. There may also be good theological reason for that heart problem, given their (our) own share in the world’s rejection of the Word.

Step 3–Final Diagnosis: Orphans
The real danger, however, is that the rejection we experience–and share in our worldly concessions of unbelief!–comes back to us as rejection in the departure of God’s Word. In not keeping or loving the Word, in our fearing and untrusting hearts, we also run the risk of being cut off from life with the Father and the Son, becoming homeless “orphans” (v. 18). There is no place for those without place in the company of God.

PROGNOSIS: A parting, but always a Dwelling

Step 4–Initial Prognosis: Homing
The presence of Jesus is a sure sign, however, that God has designed to make his place with us. This is at the heart of his Word, his Gospel. His home is our home. His earthly life unfolded, through life and death and life again, as an assurance that we are forever at home in his kingdom. His parting is not a permanent parting–not even a temporary parting of the home he has made with us. It is a parting to secure our home, even through death. His Holy Spirit/Comforter is also present as a deposit for the fullness of home yet to be revealed. This will be a constant presence and a reminder of our true citizenship in the eternal mansions, at home with Father, Son, and Spirit.

Step 5–Advanced Prognosis: Jesus’ Peace with us
In the midst of discord and strife, peace is promised. In spite of rejection and everything to the contrary of peace, Jesus’ message of “not letting your hearts be troubled or fearful” comes through. Through faith, the disciples (and we) rejoice because they are at peace, and all things are fulfilled. Consider some of the other saintly examples of those who trusted and lived with/in the peace of Jesus: as Bonhoeffer went to his death on April 9, 1945, at Flossenburg, on a beautiful Spring day, his visions had already been lifted to eternity. He was at peace. As Stephen was being stoned, he would ask for forgiveness for his persecutors, because he also was lifted with a vision of the eternal life. I had a conversation with Uncle Emil, 70+ years young. Born in a little ethnic German enclave about 30 kilometers west of Warsaw, Poland, he was a teenager when Russian soldiers overran the family farm in January, 1945. Rape, plunder, murder, and pillaging would follow in their wake. Just five years earlier, young Emil was confirmed in the local Lutheran church. The Pastor had forewarned the confirmands that hard times would come. As the small confirmation class walked to the tune Jesu, geh voran (Jesus lead us on), little did the participants know that within a few years, the pastor would be killed, members of the class would lose their homes and belongings, and numbers would die. They were going to be sifted, as all of us are. Nevertheless, Jesus prepares his followers, and he gives us His promises. History is not a very good teacher. But the Word of Jesus is both preparation and victory. Life over death, belief over unbelief, triumphing through times of testing, times of suffering, times of uncertainty–the victory is assured through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Among the promises of our Lord, the Holy Spirit grants the comfort of our eternal visions. This is the faith, the peace, the life that He gives us–and that we have.

Step 6–Final Prognosis: Keeping (and loving) in Jesus’ Word
We know that we are really sojourners who do not have a lasting country in this changing world. Yet we follow Jesus through it all, confident that our Lord resides with/in us. Our counter-response to the world’s rejection is love. Keeping Jesus’ Word, we will not leave others orphaned. The homing beacon of Jesus’ Word calls us to live between the times by dwelling for the good of all, crossing the lives of all with love, peace, life … home.

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  • Crossings

    Crossings is a community of welcoming, inquisitive people who want to explore how what we hear at church is useful and beneficial in our daily lives.

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