John’s Farewell Discourses 3

2 06 2008

OK I confess …. I lost my notes on John 16 and only just found them last night LOL, which is why i haven’t continued in a while. In any case … here we discuss John 16.

John 15 ended on a gloomy note, and I’m hoping things get a little better.

Jesus tells us that he is telling us all these things so we will not be taken off guard when things get tough and so we would remain steadfast and not lose hope. He even warns us that for our witness, we could be thrown out of the assembly or our community. I imagine this is probably pointing more towards the tensions between the early Christians who worshiped in the temple and synagogues than to anything we might encounter today. However, anytime we speak truth to power or challenge conventional wisdom in the name of the love of God and the Good News of the Gospel, there is bound to be conflict on some level.

Jesus is telling us all of this now because he is going away. He goes on to say that it is actually good for us that he leaves so the Holy Spirit can come and be with us forever. Not only that, the Holy Spirit is not just for us who follow Christ, but for everyone, including those powers-that-be we call “the world.” The Holy Spirit is for the world because it convicts those powers for its selfish ways and that it and its students are subject to God, the ultimate judge.

In the cross and resurrection of Jesus, the powers of this world are condemned and their days are numbered. The Holy Spirit will expose the lies of the world for what they are, lies which serve only to perpetuate a system of greed, consumption, control, and hierarchy to further its own ends at the expense of everything and everyone else.

Jesus has much more to say, but his little rag-tag band of confused and frightened disciples couldn’t comprehend what he was saying and couldn’t possibly bear to hear more. When Jesus says (to paraphrase) “I have much more to say but you cannot bear to him them now” could he be talking about the end of slavery? equal rights for all? Who knows? One thing we do know is, as Dr. Martin Luther King said, “the arc of the universe is long and it bends towards justice.” Call me crazy, but I can’t help but think that the Holy Spirit is the one pushing us along this arc, however slowly we move and however long that arc is. In some way, we are being guided to a more realized view of what the Kingdom of God is like if we all loved one another as God has loved us.

This entire speech has caused quite a commotion among the disciples, and they still don’t know what he is talking about. Understandably, they were also very sad at the thought of their teacher and friend leaving them. However, they are once again encouraged by Jesus. He does not diminish the sorrow or fear that they have and neither does he sugar coat his words, but he also promises that their sorrow will be turned into joy. He compares what they are experiencing to a woman in labor. The labor pains are great, but as new life is brought into the world, it overcomes the pain and its memories. So it is the same with Jesus going away and coming back.

Again, Jesus reassures us the Father hears us. Because the disciples trust Jesus and followed him, they can know the love, peace and joy of God just as Jesus does.

At this point the disciples says, “Oh yes we get it now!” and then Jesus replies, “are you sure? I can tell you right now that you’re about to make a run for it and leave me here.” Then he gets a bit reflective and says, “you know what? I’m not alone after all for the Father, the One who sent me, is with me as he always is. I’m telling you all this so the trust you have placed in me will grow.”

He ends on this note.

“You are going to have a lot of pain and suffering in this world, but know this: I am much bigger than all of it.”

And in that is our hope. Christ has overcome anything the world (or the church for that matter!) can throw at us. In that is our peace.

I was going to stop here, but I will follow on RSFJ’s suggestion and end with John 17, where we see a very intimate moment in which Jesus prays to the Father.



5 responses

2 06 2008

Nothing about “the spirit of truth?” In this sense, I also find the word “Advocate” interesting, too, as this term resembles legalism.

2 06 2008
Reverend boy

For some reason i did not have a reference to the spirit of truth in my notes. I’m sure there was a purpose at the time but it escapes me at the moment.

The notion of “advocate” in reference to the Holy Spirit always struck me as a bit odd. I wonder what was the reasoning behind using this word as opposed to another?

2 06 2008

All I can say is that I find this resonating in my heart. I love what you say about being pushed along the arc… thank you.

Off to my John class this evening!

4 06 2008
John-Julian, OJN

I think the importance of speaking of the Holy Spirit as “Advocate” is that it was a counter-balance to the name of the devil – Satanás – which in Hebrew/Aramaic means “adversary” or “accuser” (and it was used in legal proceedings as the “prosecutor”). The Holy Spirit is one who stands on our side, defending us against the accusations of the devil!

5 06 2008
Grandmère Mimi

RB, I was going to say that the Advocate stands between us and the law and pleads for us, but I love what you say, John-Julian. Accuser-Advocate. That really works. Beautiful insight.

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