The Day of Pentecost

by Crossings

John 14:8-17 [25-27]
(The Day of Pentecost)
analysis by Robin Morgan

8Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If in my name you ask me for anything I will do it. 15If you love me, you will keep my commandment. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. [ 25I 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.”]

DIAGNOSIS: Bad (Troubling) Judgment

Step 1–Initial Diagnosis: Unsatisfied
Even when everything is laid right out in front of them, some people are just never be satisfied. (Before we get too judgmental, remember that we are among those “people.”) Philip wants a bigger and better divine “bang” than the consolations that Jesus offers. “Show us the Father, and (then) we will be satisfied.” (You know what they say about being careful about what you wish for?) For Philip, Jesus’ word isn’t “enough.” But he wouldn’t be the last to operate with those kind of conditions. C.S. Lewis, in “Mere Christianity”, could claim that the church is always looking to tack something on to Christianity (“Christianity and…”). The church wants something more than “simply” Jesus’ word to sink their teeth into. Problem is, too often it is the teeth, in all their sharpness, that end up showing in any of the church’s dissatisfaction–and in its supposedly new and improved versions of envisioning.

Step 2–Advanced Diagnosis: Uncomprehending
What the disciples really suffer from is an inability to comprehend the Word that Jesus is sharing. Jesus says as much. “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me?” This failure to “know Jesus” is more than simply a problem of acquaintance. It is a problem that gets to the heart of Philip, and to the heart of the church. We are unfaithful in our hopes to grasp something a little more glossy and colorful vision of the Father than the one which Jesus portrays. What Luther called a “theology of glory” is the more common modus operandi of our being. But its comfort is illusory in the long run.

Step 3–Final Diagnosis: Unsatisfactory
Of course, at the heart of the real problem here is that our “not knowing” Jesus means we also don’t know the Father he represents. And with that lack of comprehension in our faithlessness comes a reverse “not knowing” from the Father. We, ourselves, are judged unsatisfactory in our standing in the Father’s court. Mind you, this unsatisfactory judgment does not mean that we are not seen by our divine judge. We might wish we weren’t.

PROGNOSIS: In-spiration

Step 4–Initial Prognosis: Advocated
Nonetheless, the judgment and condemnation which Philip and we deserve is swallowed up in the new life to which the Advocate testifies. But which Advocate testifies? Who, indeed, advocates (speaks in favor of, recommends, supports) the lives of those who are unsatisfactory in the last analysis? The One who advocates for us is none other than the same Jesus who represents (re-presents) the Father to his disciples, to the world, to us. His advocacy would take him to the cross, where he would make his case for us on his own life’s blood. But the fruits of his work is that we are, indeed, defended in the Father’s court. What’s more, the Spirit is there as our constant teacher of Jesus’s advocacy. Lest we forget, the Spirit of Jesus is there to shore us up with the satisfactory standing we get to enjoy through our Lord.

Step 5–Advance Prognosis: Heartened
With that kind of advocacy program that Jesus has going on our behalf, we can take heart. And that taking heart, our faith, our believing, is enough to count us righteous. Not the other “ands” that we want to bring into Christianity as somehow “mores” that are essential to add to Jesus’ advocacy. In our uncomprehending ways, we already have come to find out that more is less. But with faith in Jesus’ advocacy, we have enough. Indeed, everything we ask for in his name is ours. That should raise our flagging spirits.

Step 6–Final Prognosis: Testifying
Philip and we, the latter-day hearers of Jesus’ word, are called through the words of the Spirit of Truth to the Father’s testimony that Jesus’ whole mission was not only for us, but for all. Set free by the truth of the Lord and the Spirit, we are empowered to testify to the Word made flesh, the Word which comes from our lips to the ears and hearts of those who have not yet heard (or even if they had, to hear it again). “Greater works than these,” our Lord promises, are our works which are in harmony with the work of our Lord through his Church, Advocated, and ad-vocating (literally in Latin, to call) the world. There are other unsatisfied customers out there, waiting to have their spirits filled. In Christ’s advocacy program, we have just what the customer ordered! Satis-est! That means satisfaction, guaranteed!


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