Emmitsburg Council of Churches

 

The Holy Gospel according to St. John 14:23-29

Jesus 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. 14:24 Whoever 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.

14:25 "I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 14:26 But 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.

14:27 Peace 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. 14:28 You 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. 14:29 And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.

The Gospel of the Lord . . .


Be Keepers of the Word

In the Word of the Gospel today we are listening to Jesus tell his disciples what to expect in times soon to pass. I would like to lead us through this passage today in more of an instructional mode of preaching . . . . So you might want to take some notes here!

To begin with Jesus is speaking to instruct the disciples. His Words are a mixture of commands, promises, warnings, "potential" for punishment, then more promises that contain rewards or what we might call benefits. And finally there are words of comfort and hope.

Let's start at the beginning of the passage John 14:23. To begin with we might like to note that Jesus is answering a question asked by Judas, (not Judas Iscariot who betrayed him, but another Judas. Judas' question asks, "how is it that Jesus will reveal himself to the disciples, but not to the world?" To which Jesus begins by responding,

"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.

Note here that Jesus equates keeping his word with loving him. This we might describe as following a command (keeping his word) with a kind of promising fulfillment "Jesus will feel loved" when I keep his Word. This should make us feel good about ourselves . . . that is, if we "keep" his word Which we ought to be understanding in terms of action. To Keep Jesus Word is to hold the Word of God as precious and valuable, but even more important is the implication -- to Keep Jesus' Word is to Do his Word!!

You may ask, "Lord where do I keep your Word, or what is it that you desire for me to do in order to prove that I am keeping your Word?? Answering the first question of "where?" The witness of the Psalmist is instructional for us, "Thy Word Have I Kept in My Heart -- that I might not sin against thee."

Next comes the logic of the wisdom tradition where you might be familiar with some Bible verses from Proverbs that make reference to the human as being capable of good and/or evil. In life, you can tell if someone has a good heart or an evil heart . . . . it doesn't take a psychologist, nor a judge in a court of law to tell if someone is good or inherently wicked, that is, if you have been around a person long enough, you can tell by a person's actions and attitudes . . . not that we should spend our days judging people. (God knows!). Nevertheless, we ought to pay attention to the attitudes and actions of our own hearts that is enough to keep us occupied for a life time! No need to be checking up on others. Just get your own life on-line with Jesus.

If we Keep the Word of Jesus we should be demonstrating Good Works and a Life that is characterized by the same goodness that Jesus demonstrated in his life. "Do What Jesus Says, Do What Jesus Does and you will be showing God that you are a keeper of his Word. And if you are, then Jesus says that Both God and Jesus will come to dwell with you. What a wonderful promise!

On the other hand, Jesus says,

"14:24 Whoever 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."

If we do not keep Jesus' words (active and present in our living) then we are demonstrating that we don't love him! This is the inverse of the previous command with blessing kind of the bad news. And is followed by an even more shocking revelation: Note the little "and" that is in verse 24 printed above. Jesus wants us to get a clear message about this teaching. Remember, He and the Father are one. So if your not loving Jesus, then you're not loving the Father. So Jesus reminds his disciples, as well as we who hear this Word today . . . . "and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me." The Word is not just Jesus' word, but it comes from God . . . . Therefore, if we don't keep Jesus Word then we have no part with him and no part with God the Father.

This is starting to sound rather serious, isn't it??

Let's continue on,

14:25 "I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 14:26 But 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.

Note that Jesus emphasized that he is "still with his disciples" and yet by the very effort he has taken to mention his "present presence," he implies that he is about to go away!! And so we are left to wonder "Where is Jesus going?" and "Why is he Leaving his disciples??"

The answer follows == as Jesus goes on to explain that the Advocate, the Holy Spirit will be sent by the Father . . . and the Holy Spirit will come to teach and to remind the disciples of all that Jesus has told them. Here is a wonderful promise that eases our troubled souls if we have forgotten God's Word, or have not understood its workings in our lives, then we can trust that the Holy Spirit will come (in fact has come!). And that the Spirit is present for our benefit(!) So that we can live and love Jesus and God by understanding and doing The Word.

Now we must understand how The Word is more than just these words typed on/in our Bibles . . . this may sound confusing, since the Word is contained in the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Scriptures are the Word;

and yet The Word is inclusive of something more than letters and individual words and even sentences, But the Word is the Totality of Jesus Life, His teachings, his actions and the entire Act of Creation and Redemption!!

So the Holy Spirit Has a Lot of Work to Do in order that we can understand all of the love and wonder of God and get on with doing what Jesus has left us to do. The Word is the entire summation of all that we believe about God and about how God loves us and sustains us day by day this is more than any of us can interpret or encompass with our finite minds and limited imaginations. At least, if we embrace just a small part of who and what The Word is . . . its going to take a life time.

And so we begin to gain an understanding that Jesus desires for his disciples that they should anxiously await the coming of the Divine Helper the Holy Spirit. And so we do -- at least we're getting ready in our hearts and minds for the Day of Pentecost. When we will celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit - this teaching and reminding person of God.

And finally, we have these Words of Comfort from Jesus:

14:27 "Peace 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. 14:28 You 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. 14:29 And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe."

Jesus knows that things will not always be easy for his people who carry on in his name. We will undergo hardships and suffering. We will be misunderstood by our fellow human beings, even family members may reject us because of our allegiance to God in Christ. But Jesus desires that we be comforted . . . . and so he explains what is going to happen before it does, so that his disciples will not be completely caught off guard when Jesus leaves them.

So it is for us . . . whether we are experiencing great blessings in our lives or whether we are depressed, afraid, or just not feeling connected with God. We are invited to embrace Jesus' Words with fresh meaning just for us. For Jesus wants you and I to understand and embrace his word. And to know that he and the Father Do Dwell Within Us by the Person of the Holy Spirit. For this we give thanks to God for Jesus our Risen Lord.

May you dwell in Him and find yourself becoming Busy with Keeping his Word, from this day forward and evermore!

Amen

Read more writings of Pastor Jon