TITLE: The Home Inside Us SCRIPTURE: John 14:23-29
SERMON IN A SENTENCE: When God comes to make his home with us, he transforms our "inside home" -- the home within us -- to a microcosm of that holy city sent from heaven, a grand hotel for the universe, a place of peace.
VERSES 1-31: THE CONTEXT
Jesus' death is immanent, but his concern is for the disciples rather than himself. He reassures them that they will not be alone, and promises them peace. He offers hope not only to his immediate disciples but also to all who love him and keep his word (v. 23).
Verse 23 seems an odd place to begin. In v. 22 (not included in this Gospel lesson), Judas asks, "Lord how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?" The author is careful to inform us that this is not Judas Iscariot, but another Judas -- perhaps Judas, the son of James (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13), but we don't know for sure.
Our Gospel lesson begins with Jesus' somewhat oblique answer to Judas' question. "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."
In v. 18, Jesus says, "I will not leave you orphaned." Jesus will be going back to the Father (v. 28), but not at the expense of the disciples. He will make provision for the disciples, current and future, through the gift of the Spirit. Again, this gives us peace, because we have not been abandoned.
VERSES 23-24: THOSE WHO LOVE ME WILL KEEP MY WORD
23 Jesus answered him, "Those who love me will keep my word (Greek: logon), and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home (Greek: monen) 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.
"Those who love me will keep my word" (Greek: logon -- from logos) (v. 23). This Gospel begins with the proclamation, "In the beginning was the Word (logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (1:1).
-- Jesus is the logos, or the faithful expression, of God. The logos that he brings is not his creation, but "is from the Father who sent me" (v. 24).
-- Jesus calls us to demonstrate our love by keeping his word. As he reflects God's image by faithfully obeying God's will, he calls us to reflect his image by obeying his will.
Love is at the heart of Jesus' word. Jesus has just given the disciples a new commandment, "that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another" (13:34; see also 14:15; 15:12). Keeping Jesus' word means, at a minimum, loving one another.
In the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus identifies two great commandments -- to love God and to love neighbor (Matt. 22:36-40; Mark 12:28-31), but in this Gospel the only commandment is to love one another.
"we will come to them and make our home with them" (v. 23). The Greek word translated home is monen. In v. 2, Jesus promised the disciples a home in heaven, "In my Father's house there are many monai, (dwelling places or rooms). If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?" In v. 23, he promises that the Father and Son will make their home with us where we are. Therefore, whether in heaven or on earth, God is with us. As Paul says, "whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's" (Rom. 14:8).
God's promise to dwell in the midst of his people has its roots in the OT (1 Kings 8:27; Ezek 37:27; Zech. 2:10), and received graphic display in the form of the tabernacle and temple. While these buildings were made with human hands (2 Cor. 5:1), they were nevertheless holy beyond measure, because God dwelt there in the Holy of Holies. Only the high priest is permitted access to the Holy of Holies, and he only once a year, on the Day of Atonement. At Jesus' death, the veil guarding the Holy of Holies will be rent from top to bottom (Matt. 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45), signaling that all the people of God, and not just the high priest, have full access to the presence of God.
In the NT, Jesus speaks of himself as a temple (Matt. 12:6; John 2:19). Paul speaks of Christians as God's temple (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16), which reflects Jesus' promise that the Father will send the Holy Spirit to dwell in us (14:25-26), just as he dwells in the temple.
We say, "Home is where the heart is," meaning that home is the place where we live with loved ones, a place where we love and are loved in return. Home is where they know us best and love us anyway. In vv. 2 and 23, Jesus promises us a place where we love and are loved in return, both here and in heaven. It is quite a promise. Home is where we are with the Lord -- and we are with the Lord now -- and will be with the Lord forever.
Jesus makes this promise to the church, the community of faith, rather than to individuals. "All of the personal pronouns in these verses (12-24) are second-person plural, not singular" (O'Day, 749). This is an important insight for an age that glorifies the individual. We are tempted to celebrate individual spirituality and to downplay the role of the church, but the church is the body of Christ, the agency through which God chooses to dispense blessings and to keep promises. We cannot honor the head (Christ) while despising the body (the church). Cyprian said, "Who has not the Church for mother can no longer have God for father." His wording might be a little sharp, but only a little.
"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" (v. 24). If it is true that those who love Jesus will keep his word, the converse is also true. Those who do not love Jesus will not keep his word -- will not obey his new commandment -- will not love one another. This is "a practical principle for distinguishing insiders from outsiders.... Later, in 1 John, much use will be made of this principle when the community finds itself torn by internal dissension among those who are and those who are not keeping Jesus' words (e.g., 1 Jn 2:4-5). The principle is so important that Jesus emphasizes that it is not his word 'you [plural] are hearing' but is from 'the Father who sent me' " (Howard-Brook, 323).
VERSES 25-26: THE ADVOCATE WILL TEACH YOU EVERYTHING
25 "I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate (Greek: parakletos), 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.
"I have said these things to you while I am still with you" (v. 25). Imagine going on a long trip and trying to tell your children or work associates all that they need to know while you are gone. You feel your lips moving and know that you are saying the right words, but it is difficult to imagine that your listeners fully appreciate the import of your instruction. Only later, after they have done the work without your help, will they really understand. It is clear to Jesus that the disciples do not understand, but he must tell them anyway. Later, they will remember his words, and the Holy Spirit will teach them everything and remind them of all that he has said.
"But the Advocate (Greek: parakletos), the Holy Spirit" (v. 26). Jesus assures the disciples that he will not leave them alone. The word, parakletos is translated variously as Advocate, Comforter, Counselor, or Helper, and describes a Spirit who remains at our side forever (v. 16) to represent us, defend us, argue our case, give peace, or provide counsel as needed. Unlike defense lawyers today, who are not responsible for revealing truth but instead must try to secure a favorable verdict for their client, the parakletos whom Jesus introduces here "is the Spirit of truth" (v. 17). Barclay says, "Always a parakletos is someone called in to help when the person who calls him is in trouble or distress or doubt or bewilderment" (Barclay, 194). The Paraclete gives us peace, because we know that our Advocate, Comforter, Counselor, and Helper is always present with us.
"whom the Father will send in my name" (v. 26). Being sent in the name of another person is the mark of an emissary. "Just as Jesus came in his Father's name (5:43; 10:25), i.e., as his Father's emissary, so the Spirit comes in Jesus' name" (Carson, 505; Brown, 653, sees this differently).
The Paraclete/Holy Spirit "will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you" (v. 26). Jesus has taught the disciples a great deal, but they will understand only after the resurrection. Then the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, will help them to remember Christ's teachings and to interpret those teachings for their immediate situation. The Paraclete, the one who stands beside them day and night, will make all things clear. "This does not mean that he will make new revelations; rather he will bring back to the disciples' memory all the things that Jesus had told them" (Morris, 583).
This is still an encouraging word today. The Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, stands beside us to guide us. If we follow, the Spirit leads us to truth. If we obey, the Spirit leads us to life. But the blessings are not automatic. We must follow; we must obey.
VERSES 27-29: PEACE, I LEAVE WITH YOU
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. 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. 29 And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you" (v. 27a). This is Jesus' last will and testament. "He had little to leave. Even his clothes would soon be the property of the crucifixion squad of soldiers. But there was one thing he could give -- Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you -- a mighty gift indeed" (Gossip, 713).
As Jesus will reveal in the next chapter, he will also leave his disciples with love (15:9-10) and joy (15:11). "When we recall that love, joy and peace are the first three graces in the fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5:22, we may wonder if these three did not form a triad in primitive Christian thought comparable to faith, hope, and love" (Bruce, 305).
"I do not give to you as the world gives" (v. 27b). The conventional greeting, shalom, means peace, but frequent use turns it into a cliché. In common usage, Shalom can mean as little as "I recognize your presence" or "I must go now." By contrast, Christ offers real peace. We see it in the lives of those who have truly entrusted their lives to Christ. We envy their calm strength. Their creed is, "If God is for us, who is against us," (Rom. 8:31) and they have peace.
"If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father" (v. 28b). Jesus is not accusing the disciples of failure to love, but rather that their love is turned inward -- focused on their needs instead of the Son's return to his heavenly home. Jesus has finished his mission on earth, and is returning to the glory that is his natural heritage. Anyone who truly loves him will rejoice in his renewed glorification.
"because the Father is greater than I" (v. 28c). Arius will turn this into heresy by denying Jesus' deity, but it does not confuse anyone who has read Philippians. "Christ Jesus. emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness" (Phil. 2:5-7). Christ accepts the limitations imposed by his humanity. The Father, not subject to these limitations, is greater than the incarnate Jesus.
The inequality, however, is temporary. In his high priestly prayer, Jesus will pray, "So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed" (17:5). Paul assures us that this prayer was answered. "Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:9-11). In this Gospel, Jesus' glorification takes place through his death, resurrection, and ascension, which end in his return to the glory from whence he came.
"And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe" (v. 29). "Finally, in verse 29, Judas gets the 'answer' to the question asked in verse 22" (Howard-Brook, 327). Jesus reveals himself to the disciples and not to the world in his pre-death instruction. The disciples will not fully appreciate the full import of Jesus' words until the things about which he speaks have taken place. Jesus is laying the foundation so that the disciples will be able to believe once the events about which he is speaking begin to unfold.
There are reasons to believe that Americans are growing more and more preoccupied with their homes. Some people claim that we have gone from simply cocooning in our homes to burrowing into them, and thus shutting out the world far more successfully. No longer is our home just our castle; it has become our fortress.
When we have a choice, we don't venture out as much as we used to. It's at home that we now have our feasting and fun, our games and celebrations. The home entertainment center and the Internet now consume much of the time once taken by the city park, the private club, the neighborhood bar. Our world now consists of two distinct halves, like an apple split by an ax: the one side is work or school or whatever it is we must do; the other side is what we're free to do, and increasingly we choose to do that at home.
Consider what this means for business. It's better to invest in video stores, not movie theaters; in carry out food franchises, not restaurants; in mail order operations, not shopping malls.
The message sounds forth from every direction. Decorate your home! Equip your home! Maintain your home! Enjoy your home! Worry about your home! Your home reveals who you are, and who you want to be. First, make your home in your image, and then let it return the favor: you are made over in the image of your home. You own it; it owns you.
Having a home is the beginning point for all this. But there's more to life than home ownership. I'd like to suggest a different angle. What about becoming a home?
Our home is not only the four walls around us. There is also a home inside each of us. We may be aware of this inside home and comfortable with it, or we may neglect this home, remain absent from it, keep moving away from it, as though driven from our deepest selves. What about the home we already are? The condition of our inside home is at least as important as that of our outside one. We need to be as concerned about who occupies this interior residence as we are about the occupant or occupants of our outer domicile.
One reason our inside home is so important is that here God desires to be our guest. Remember a promise Jesus makes at the Last Supper that appears in today's Gospel. "Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with him."
The Father and the Son will come, and with them as always the Holy Spirit will come. The Trinity wants to dwell inside each of us. Do we make room available, or do we leave the Trinity no space?
Our inside home may be filled from floor to ceiling, cluttered by all manner of stuff that has collected there: preoccupations and attachments and resentments that crowd the space where God would be. Our inside home may even be loaded from floor to ceiling with ourselves. We may be full of ourselves, and leave no room for God. Blessed are the empty!
The classic practices of the Christian life tend to be more exercises in clearing out than in adding on, in emptying rather than accumulating. Thus they run against the grain of much ordinary existence, especially in a society like ours that is preoccupied with acquisition and consumption. It's easy for our spirituality to become a matter of collecting religious merit badges, when what the Trinity seeks is not what we do, but who we are. God desires our company, our companionship, our kindness.
It's a strange thing that God wills to be our guest, as strange as Jesus born in Bethlehem's barn, yet equally true. So strange is this divine desire that we may fight it or ignore it, trying to keep the Trinity at a cold distance. Yet our inside home can be a royal suite that welcomes the King of glory. It may be seem to us a dump, but God seeks it out as a lodging place in this world. To accept this visitor is to become holy. In the end, holiness is a form of hospitality
Still, there's danger in having God come as a guest. He arrives with pentecostal fire, burning away the precious accumulation that clutters up our lives, the junk that makes our existence stagnant. The Lord makes his own space in our homes, space not only for the divine immensity, but for God's friends as well, space for all those the Lord loves, whether or not they love him. When we welcome God, then the hospitality becomes inclusive: we welcome all creatures, both good and bad, who in God exist and move and live.
When we welcome God as guest to our inside home, then we welcome a hungry horde, those countless camp followers who accompany him. All creation makes its claim. Can you stand to be a friend of God when he is so indiscriminate about those he embraces? Can you stand to host an open house, not for the pristine, glorious God alone, but for everyone he accepts in his reckless, wasteful love? It will mean for you a cross.
Your inside home will then become not some place for you to burrow or cocoon, not a way for you to avoid life and stay safe. Your inside home will then become a microcosm of that holy city sent from heaven, a grand hotel for the universe, a place of peace.
Christ gives to us in a way different from the world: it is noisy peace he offers us, the peace and wholeness of a world reconciled at a tremendous price. To love him means making room in ourselves for this world and this Savior.
-- Copyright for this sermon 2004, The Very Rev. Charles Hoffacker. Used by permission. Fr. Hoffacker is rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Port Huron, Michigan and dean of the Blue Water Convocation in the Diocese of Eastern Michigan.
MORE SERMONS ON THIS TEXT: You might also find the following sermons helpful.
Richard Fairchild, "Peace I give you." This sermon begins with a nice image of peace in a turbulent world, and talks about how Jesus gives us peace amidst our turbulent lives.
Angela V. Askew, no title given. This sermon weaves together the Gospel lesson with the text from Rev. 21-22 to play out the dialogue between the coming absence of Jesus and the coming presence of the Holy Spirit.
A century ago, there lived in Poland a famous rabbi, Hofetz Chaim. A visitor from the United States stopped to visit with the rabbi, and was surprised to see that the rabbi's home, while clean and neat, was a simple room furnished only with a cot, a table, a couple of chairs, and a number of books. He asked, "Rabbi, where is your furniture?"
The rabbi responded by asking, "Where is yours?"
His guest was surprised at the question. "My furniture?" he asked. "But I am only a visitor here! I'm only passing through."
Rabbi Chaim replied, "So am I."
Everything in me wants to move upward.
Downward mobility with Jesus goes radically against my inclinations,
against the advice of the world surrounding me,
and against the culture of which I am a part.
-- Henri Nouwen
* * * * * * * * * *
Our society has inundated us with the importance of importance.
We have been conditioned to believe in the big, the fast,
the expensive and the far away.
I'm still convinced that if you have to move
even ten inches from where you are now
in order to be happy,
you never will be.
Life becomes precious and more special to us
when we look for the little everyday miracles
and get excited again about the privilege of simply being human.
-- Tim Hansel, You Gotta Keep Dancin'
* * * * * * * * * *
Contentment consists not in adding more fuel,
but in taking away some fire;
not in multiplying of wealth,
but in subtracting men's desires.
-- Thomas Fuller
* * * * * * * * * *
The seed of God is in us.
Given an intelligent and hard-working farmer,
it will thrive and grow up to God, whose seed it is;
and accordingly its fruits will be God-nature.
Pear seeds grow into pear trees,
nut seeds into nut trees,
and God seeds into God.
-- Meister Eckhart
* * * * * * * * * *
We can no more find a method for knowing God
than for making God,
because the knowledge of God
is God himself dwelling in the soul.
The most we can do is to prepare for his entry,
to get out of his way,
to remove the barriers.
For until God acts in us
there is nothing positive that we can do in this direction.
-- Alan W. Watts
* * * * * * * * * *
HYMNS: Thanks to the Rev. Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia, pastor of Allendale United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg, Florida for the hymns.
Baptist Hymnal (BH)
Chalice Hymnal (CH)
Collegeville Hymnal (CO)
Gather Comprehensive (GC)
Lutheran Book of Worship (LBW)
Lutheran Worship (LW)
Presbyterian Hymnal (PH)
The Faith We Sing (TFWS)
The Hymnal 1982 (TH)
The New Century Hymnal (TNCH)
United Methodist Hymnal (UMH)
Voices United (VU)
With One Voice (WOV)
Blessed Jesus, at Thy Word (LBW #248; LW #202; PH #454; TH #440; TNCH #74; UMH #596; VU #500)
Come Down, O Love Divine (CH #582; CO #498; GC #465; JS #420; LBW #508; LW #162; TH #516; TNCH #289; UMH #475; VU #367)
Also known as Come Forth, O Love Divine
Dona Nobis Pacem (CH #297; CO #598; GC #730; JS #348; TH #712; UMH #376; VU #955; WOV #774)
Holy Spirit, Come (CO #304; LW #167; UMH #331; WOV #686)
I've Got Peace Like a River (BH #418; CH #530; PH #368; TFWS #2145; TNCH #478; VU #577)
Let There Be Peace on Earth (CH #677; GC #731; JS #565; UMH #431)
Of All the Spirit's Gifts to Me (BH #442; CH #270; UMH #336)
The Church of Christ in Every Age (BH #402; CH #475; CO #613; JS #774; LBW #433; PH #421; TNCH #306; UMH #589; VU #601)
The Gift of Love (BH #423; CH #526; PH #335; UMH #408)
There's Within My Heart a Melody (BH #425; CH #550; UMH #380)
Trust and Obey (BH #447; CH #556; UMH #467)
Where Charity and Love Prevail (CO #387; GC #625; JS #429; LBW #126; TH #581; TNCH #396; UMH #549)
Your Love, O God, Has Called Us Here (BH #509; TH #353; TNCH #361; UMH #647)
SCRIPTURES FOR UPCOMING WEEKS:
We follow the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) and use Gospel texts for Sundays only. The RCL tracks with the other major lectionaries most of the time, but there are occasional differences.
May 23 Easter 7 John 17:20-26
May 30 Pentecost Acts 2 and John 14
June 6 Trinity John 16:12-15
June 13 Proper 6C (OT 11) Luke 7:36 -- 8:3
June 20 Proper 7C (OT 12) Luke 8:26-39
Barclay, William, The Daily Study Bible, "The Gospel of John," Vol. 2 (Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press, 1955)
Beasley-Murray, George R., Word Biblical Commentary: John (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999)
Brown, Raymond, The Anchor Bible: The Gospel According to John XIII-XXI (Garden City: Doubleday, 1970)
Bruce, F. F., The Gospel of John (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1983).
Burridge, Richard A., in Van Harn, Roger (ed.), The Lectionary Commentary: Theological Exegesis for Sunday's Text. The Third Readings: The Gospels (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001)
Carson, D. A., The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Gospel of John (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1991).
Cousar, Charles B.; Gaventa, Beverly R.; McCann, J. Clinton; and Newsome, James D., Texts for Preaching: A Lectionary Commentary Based on the NRSV -- Year C (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994)
Craddock, Fred R.; Hayes, John H.; Holladay, Carl R.; and Tucker, Gene M., Preaching Through the Christian Year C (Valley Forge: Trinity Press International, 1994)
Gossip, Arthur John and Howard, Wilbert F., The Interpreter's Bible, Volume 8 (Nashville: Abingdon, 1952)
Howard-Brook, Wes, Becoming the Children of God: John's Gospel and Radical Discipleship (New York: Maryknoll, 1994).
Krentz, Edgar, and Vogel, Arthur A., Proclamation 2: Easter, Series C.
Lindberg, Paul H., Lectionary Bible Studies, "The Year of Luke," Lent-Easter, Study Book (Augsburg-Fortress, 1976).
Moloney, Francis J., Sacra Pagina: The Gospel of John (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1998)
Morris, Leon, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995).
O'Day, Gail R., The New Interpreter's Bible, Volume IX (Nashville: Abingdon, 1995)
Sloyan, Gerald, "John," Interpretation (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1988)
Smith, D. Moody, Jr., Abingdon New Testament Commentaries: John (Nashville: Abingdon, 1999)
We welcome your feedback! email@example.com
Copyright 2004, Richard Niell Donovan
Send to Printer
(use browser's print feature to print out this page)
Home by Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
Sermon for 6th Sunday of Easter, Year C
Based on Jn. 14:23 & 27
By Pastor Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
Home…. What is a home? For some, it’s a place of sorrow, insecurity, hurt, pain and abuse. For others, it’s a place of joy, security, comfort and love. The Gospel of John often has a strange way of speaking, which is foreign to the other three Gospels. In today’s gospel, Jesus speaks of a home; a different kind of home than most people would think of.
He tells his disciples and all would-be followers of his that: “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.” These words give all faithful followers of Jesus a wonderful promise. This special home that Jesus is referring to here, provides us with everything we need in life—everything necessary to live our lives abundantly, to fulfill God’s will and purpose.
The culture of Palestine during this period of history placed a great deal of importance on the home and hospitality. The home was a place of nurture, rest retreat, growth and fellowship. People were given adequate food and drink for their survival and physical health. They were given a bed on which to rest after a day’s work. They were given a place to retreat from the world with all of its endless problems and demands. They were given a place for the opportunities of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual growth and fellowship. The home was not only a centre for the basic family unit; it was also the centre of hospitality for banquets, study, higher learning and worship. The home, in addition to all of this, was a place of protection and amnesty for foreign travelers, refugees, and outcasts.
Therefore, when Jesus, speaking about the Father and himself, said: “We will come to them and make our home with them,” he is making a very wonderful promise. He is promising—through the power of the resurrection—to be present with us; to live with us and provide for our needs; as we journey through this life. As we live in this world, he is dwelling with us; we are able to enjoy the close fellowship-communion with him in the same way that he enjoys close fellowship-communion with the Father.
In the midst of our limited, insecure world; Jesus is our source of true security. He gives us small portions of eternity right now, as we journey through this life. This happens whenever he gives us the physical as well as the spiritual food and drink to survive and enjoy good health (wholeness). He gives us rest when we are weary of life so that we can experience the freshness and newness of another day. He is our centre of retreat when the world’s pain, problems and demands are closing in on us. He provides us with countless opportunities for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual growth and renewal. In an often hostile, dangerous world, his hospitality is so wonderful and inviting—we are able to feast at his banquet, grow in his wisdom, knowledge, understanding; and we are given the privilege of worshipping him. In addition to all of this: Jesus provides protection and amnesty for foreign travellers, refugees, and outcasts—often working through us, his followers to accomplish this work. What a marvellous promise that Jesus and the Father have made their home with us!
Because God the Father and Jesus have made their home with us; we can hear and truly live by these words of Jesus in verse 27: “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” One of our worst enemies is fear. Fear incapacitates us and makes us helpless, apathetic, uncaring and unloving. We are afraid of ourselves—we are afraid to succeed; we are afraid to fail; we are afraid to get involved; we are afraid to love. We are afraid of others—especially if they belong to a different culture, race or religion. For example, the media so frequently stereotypes the Muslims as violent people; therefore we believe that all Muslims are violent people, not so! We are afraid of the world—there are so many changes, so many complex problems, we wonder what we can do to make a significant difference. Often we don’t want to think about the world—we’d rather build a fortress around it and place a “Keep Out” sign around our fortress. We are afraid of the unknown—who knows what the future holds; it cannot be predicted with clarity—we are uneasy living by faith; we’d far sooner live by sight. Perhaps most of all, we are afraid of God—we may believe God exists all right, as many polls indicate; but many of us don’t really want to get too close to God. If we get to know God real well, then we will have to live under God’s reign and love God. Many of us would rather be our own masters, run our own lives and love only ourselves. It is in this context, this situation, that God comes to us. God bids us to leave all of our fears and troubles with God. God wants to make a home within us and offer us a marvellous hospitality. A life of health, wholeness, peace and love.
There is an option to living by all of our fears and troubles; we do not have to be paralyzed by our fears and troubles. The option is God making a home within our lives—a home of love, security, joy, peace, confidence and hope. A home that makes it possible to keep God’s word by getting involved and putting our Christian faith into practice in response to what God in Christ has done for us. The following story illustrates our need to get involved, to put our faith into practice.
A man was trying to read a serious book, but his little boy kept interrupting him. He would lean against his knees and say, “Daddy, I love you.” The father would give him a pat and say rather absently, “Yes, Son, I love you too,” and he would kind of give him a little push away so he could keep on reading. But this didn’t satisfy the boy, and finally he ran to his father and said, “I love you, Daddy,” and he jumped up on his lap and threw his arms around him and gave him a big squeeze, explaining, “And I’ve just got to DO something about it!” That’s it—as we grow in God’s love, we aren’t content with small-talk love, or pat-on-the-head love. We want to get involved and “DO something about it.” 1
Hopefully we’ll be so enthused with God’s love and grace that it spills out over into every area of life; every encounter with others as we live each day—making a significant difference.
1 Cited from: James S. Hewett, Editor, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton, ILL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1988), p. 329.
Send to Printer
(use browser's print feature to print out this page)
My Heart Christ’s Home by Davon Huss
Sermon for 8/11/2003
My Heart, Christ’s Home
A. Wanted: Fishers of Men. You catch them and the Lord cleans them.
B. Cleaning fish or getting them ready to eat is a disgusting job.
C. Took the boys fishing and we caught 4 catfish. I took them home and tried to clean them. The knife was too dull to fillet them so I had to do it the old fashioned way and gut them and then clean them.
D. I am so thankful that when we are fishing for men, the Lord takes those who are saved and cleans them up.
A. Many people have a misunderstanding when it comes to church and Christianity. “When I get my act cleaned up, then I will come to church.”
B. We need to understand that without Jesus Christ no one will be clean. No one will be able to clean up their act. (2 Pet 1:3 NIV) His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
C. When the blood of Christ washes our sins away, Christ also begins the process of removing the junk from our hearts.
D. When we were baptized, several things occurred. We usually emphasize that through our faith in Christ, our sins are forgiven, our slate is wiped clean and we are on our way to heaven. We have been pardoned through the blood of Jesus Christ. We made Christ our Savior.
E. However, when we are baptized with faith in Christ, we are making Jesus our Lord. What does the term Lord mean? It comes from an old English term which refers to the “lord” of the manor. Still use that term in Europe. This person is the Master of this manor, of this property.
F. (Rom 10:9 NIV) That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
G. When we were baptized, we made Jesus our Savior but we also made Him our Lord. He bought us with his blood and we are His.
H. Also when we were baptized, Jesus Christ came and began living in our hearts. Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
I. (John 14:23 NIV) Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
J. Jesus Christ is living in our hearts; He has made our hearts His home. (John 14:17 NIV) the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
Thesis: This morning I want us to compare our hearts to the rooms in our houses and see how Jesus would view each room. (Idea and portions adapted from Robert Boyd Munger’s My Heart Christ’s Home)
1. Let’s take our Friend Jesus into the study- the Library.
A. This is the room of our minds. It is the room that controls the other rooms.
B. Jesus enters with us and looks around at the books in the bookcase, the magazines upon the table, the computer on its desk, and the pictures on the walls. As we follow His gaze we become uncomfortable.
C. Strangely, we had not felt self-conscious about this before, but now that Jesus was there looking at these things He is embarrassed.
D. Some books were there that His eyes were too pure to behold.
E. On the table were a few magazines that a Christian had no business reading.
F. The computer has internet sites, e-mail’s, programs and documents stored that are not wholesome or family friendly.
G. As for the pictures on the walls- the imaginations and thoughts of the mind- some of these are hideous.
H. Red faced, we turn to Jesus and say, “Master, we know that this room needs to be cleaned up and made over. Will you help us make it what it ought to be?”
I. “Certainly!” Jesus says. “I’m glad to help you.”
1. First of all, take all the things that you are reading and looking at which are not helpful, pure, good and true, and throw them out!
2. Put on the empty shelves the books of the Bible, my Word. Fill the library with Scripture and meditate on it day and night. Fill the computer with the same things.
3. As for the pictures on the walls, you will have difficulty controlling those, but I have something that will help. He gives us a full-size portrait of Himself. “Hang this in the center,” He says, “on the wall of your minds.”
J. As we follow Jesus instructions, we discover that when our thoughts are centered upon Christ himself, His purity and power cause impure thoughts to back away. He will help us to bring our thoughts under control.
K. (2 Cor 10:5 NIV) We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2. The Dining Room
A. From the study we go into the dining room, the room of appetites and desires. We spend a lot of time here trying to satisfy our wants.
B. We say to Jesus, “This is our favorite room. We are quite sure You will pleased with what we serve.”
C. Jesus seats Himself at the table with us and asks, “What is on the menu for dinner?” “Well,” we say, “our favorite dishes: money, academic degrees, stocks and possession, with articles of fame and fortune as side dishes.” These are things that we like- secular fare.
D. When this food was placed before Him, He said nothing, but we observe that He doesn’t eat a thing. We say to Him, “Master, don’t you care for this food? What is the trouble?”
E. Jesus answered, “I have food to eat that you do not know of. If you want food that really satisfies you, do the will of the Father. Stop seeking your own pleasures, desires, and satisfaction. Seek to please God. That food will satisfy you.”
F. Jesus goes into the kitchen and brings out a dish that really satisfies! What flavor! What a joy to do the will of God! There is no food like it in the entire world. It really satisfies.
3. The Living Room
A. We go into the living room. This room is intimate and comfortable. WE all liked it. It has a fireplace, overstuffed chairs, a sofa, and a quiet atmosphere.
B. Jesus said, “This is indeed a delightful room. Let us come here often. It is secluded and quiet, and we can fellowship together.”
C. Jesus promised, “I will be here early every morning. Meet me here, and we will start the day together.”
D. So the next morning, we get up and go into the living room and some of us watch TV and others of us read the morning paper. We do this for about a week and we notice that Jesus is off in a corner all by himself, looking very lonely.
E. We go over to him and ask, “What’s the matter Jesus?” Jesus says, “I want to be with you and talk with you and all of this noise makes that impossible.”
F. So we turn off the TV and Jesus takes a book of the Bible from the case. We put down our newspapers and read it together. He unfolds to us the wonder of God’s saving truths. We come before Him and talk about our troubles and He gives us advice and strength to go through life. He hugs us and tells us everything will be fine.
G. However, little by little, under the pressure of many responsibilities, this time is shortened. After a while, we begin to miss whole days of going down into the living room with Jesus. We are just too busy. After all, we moved the TV into the rec room and we spend more time there.
H. One morning we rush out the door and we notice that Jesus is in the living room. We come back and say, “Master, have you been here all these mornings?” “Yes,” He says, “I told you I would be here every morning to meet with you. Remember, I love you. I value your fellowship. Even if you cannot keep the quiet time for your own sakes, do it for mine.”
I. Don’t let Christ wait alone in the living room of your heart!
4. The Workroom
A. Before long, Jesus asks us, “Do you have a workroom in this home?”
B. Out in the garage of our hearts we have a workbench and some equipment, but we are not doing much with it.
C. We lead him there. He looks over the workbench and says, “Well, this is quite well furnished. What are you producing with your life for the Kingdom of God?” He looks at the one or two toys that we have thrown together and he holds up one for inspection. “Is this the sort of thing you have been doing for others in your Christian life?”
D. “Well,” we say, “Lord, we know it isn’t much, and we really want to do more, but after all, we don’t seem to have strength or skill or time to do more.”
E. “Would you like to do better,” Jesus asks. “Certainly,” we say.
F. “All right. Let me have your hands. Now let my Spirit work through you.”
G. We give up our hands to him and he makes wonderful and useful things.
(Eph 2:10 NIV) For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
5. The Rec Room
A. He asks us about a rec room where we go for fun. We were hoping he would not ask about that. There are certain associations and activities that we wanted to keep for ourselves.
B. He asks one day and so we reluctantly take Him. He sees the TV and asks to see our favorite programs. After a few minutes of this, He grows uneasy and asks, “Is this how you spend your free time?”
C. Then he notices a Game Cube and asks, “Can we play some games?” Jesus looks at the games and we are quite embarrassed. It is nothing but violence. Jesus doesn’t want to play those. Then Jesus asks, “Can I have something to drink?”
D. “Well, Jesus what do you like?” “What do you have?” “Well, we have Vodka, Wild Turkey, Jim Bean, and Jack Daniels.” Jesus says, “Just a few drops of this will make me drunk. Do you get drunk? Is this how you spend some of your free time?”
E. We tell Jesus, “We shouldn’t have let you into this room.” In a hurry, we leave the house and go out with our friends. It is some of the most miserable hours we have ever had.
F. We come home and there is a light in Jesus room, so we go and talk it over with Him. We say, “Lord, we have learned our lesson. We know that we cannot have a good time without you. From now on, we will do everything together.”
G. Then He takes us down into the rec room of the house. He transforms it. He brings new friends, new excitement, and new joys. Laugher and music have been ringing through the house ever since.
6. The Hall Closet
A. One day we found Jesus waiting for us at the door. An arresting look was in His eye. As we enter, He said to us, “There is a peculiar odor in the house. Something must be dead around here. It’s upstairs. I think it is the hall closet.”
B. As soon as He said this, we know what he is talking about. There is a small closet up there that has just a few things from our old life that are dead and rotting.
C. We have no where else to store them. We don’t want them out in the open for that would be terrible.
D. Jesus asks for the key to the closet door and we are quite reluctant. We have given him everything else. We say, “This is too much. We are not going to give You that key.”
E. “Well,” Jesus says,” if you think I’m going to stay up here on the second floor with this smell, you are mistaken. I will stay out on the porch.”
F. He has been such a good guest, we had to give in. We give him the key and tell him to clean up the mess.
G. He opens the closet and throws all the garbage away. Then He cleaned the closet and painted it. It was done in a moment’s time. What victory and release!
H. (Heb 9:14 NIV) How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death!
7. Transferring the Title
A. We have an idea. “Lord, is there any chance that you would take over the management of the whole house and operate it for us as you did that Closet? Would you take the responsibility to keep our lives what they ought to be?”
B. “I’d love to. But I am just a guest. I have no authority to proceed, since the property is not mine.”
C. Running as fast as we can to safe, we take out the title deed to the house. We eagerly sign the house over to him alone for time and eternity.
D. Things are different since Jesus Christ has come and lived in our hearts.
A. When Jesus comes into a person’s heart, that person will change. Some changes will be immediate, others will take time. However, Jesus will make changes.
B. What about those people who claim to be saved but there is no evidence of changes in their lives?
C. Many people want a pardon from hell, but they do not want the Governor living with them. When Jesus pardons us, he comes in and lives with us.
D. Jesus is not our get out of jail free card; He is our Savior and our Lord.
Send to Printer
(use browser's print feature to print out this page)
Do not let your hearts be troubled by Dr. Jerry Morrissey
Year C Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 20th, 2001 John 14: 23-29
Title: “Do not let your hearts be troubled”
Jesus is in the midst of his farewell address to his disciples. The overriding theme at this point is his departure from them and his sending the Paraclete to take his place.
The Synoptics tell us that Jesus spoke to his disciples at their final meal together, but John has the discourse spanning five chapters. He presents Jesus as delivering one final packaged message that, in fact, contains material the Synoptics have scattered throughout his public ministry. Put in the form of a “farewell message” the material has a timeless value, so it speaks to all Christians of all ages and conditions. The urgency of the imminent coming of the kingdom preached in the Synoptics is replaced by the urgency of Jesus’ imminent death and the “coming of the kingdom” is replaced by the coming of the Spirit. The Spirit or Paraclete does not become incarnate, as Christ did, but dwells in all who keep Jesus’ commandments. His stay with them is not temporary but permanent. The Spirit will be Jesus himself in a different form. He will teach them, counsel them, console them and will be recognized by them in the peace they experience. This peace is Jesus’ gift to them. So is his Spirit. They are one and the same reality.
John has put together in this chapter; once independent sayings of Jesus about divine presence and divine indwelling. Jesus speaks of the indwelling of the Spirit (14: 15-17), Jesus himself (14: 18-22), and the Father (14: 23-24). This is the same divine reality or presence, experienced by the Christian in different forms.
In verse twenty-three, “Those who love me will keep my word,” “Love” (agape) is synonymous with “keeping my word.” It is not a feeling but an attitude that exists in an atmosphere, the atmosphere created by awareness of the divine indwelling. “Word” is synonymous with “commandment.” It includes, but is broader than, specific directives. “Keeping the word” is enfleshing the presence, the divine indwelling, by relating to others with the same attitude as God does.
“My Father will love them,” that is, will treat them as they treat others.
“We will come to them,” Jesus’ focus, at this point, is on the Father and Son as a unit, but it will shortly include and involve the Spirit as well. In verse twenty-one, Jesus said, “I will love him and reveal myself to him.” Now, the Father is included. “Coming to him,” “loving him,” “revealing to him,” and “dwelling in him” are all different ways of saying the same thing. This indwelling is neither available to the world nor confined only to a few. It is open to all who meet the above stipulations. It is not a mystical experience of the esoteric kind, for that would not be accessible to all. It is like what Paul means by being “in Christ,” only the focus is reversed to being “Christ in us.” The Greek word translated as “dwelling” is mone, not a geographical place but a condition. It is the same word used in John 14:2, “rooms,” to indicate the inner beings, the souls, of Christians.
In verse twenty-four, this repeats the ideas in verse twenty-three, in the negative. The absence of love is caused by the absence of hearing and keeping the word of Jesus which, in turn, comes from the Father. In John 3: 16 the Father’s love caused him to send his Son into the world. Now this love causes the Father and Son to send themselves into the Christian.
In verse twenty-six the Advocate, the Holy Spirit: “Advocate” translates the Greek, paracletos, literally “the one called alongside.” It is a term for a lawyer, really a defense attorney, although in John more of a prosecutor. It also means an intercessor, helper, consoler, and counselor. In verse sixteen, Jesus referred to him as “another Counselor,” meaning that the Holy Spirit will take the place of the absent Jesus. He will perform the same functions that Jesus did while in the flesh.
“Whom the Father will send in my name,” that is, as Jesus’ representative. The same Father who sent Jesus will now send Jesus again in the form of the Holy Spirit. Jesus bore God’s name because he was the revelation of God to humans. Now the Spirit is sent in Jesus’ name because he is the revelation of Jesus, unfolding the meaning of his words across time.
“He will teach you everything,” the sentence continues with “and remind you of all that I have said to you,” which means the same thing. “Teach” and “remind” are equivalents. It is not that there will be new teaching or more teaching, but that the presence of the Spirit will prompt the memory to remember what Jesus taught and the mind to interpret his teaching in new situations, learning the full or fuller meaning of Jesus’ words. “He” means that this spirit is more than a tendency or influence, a neutral or neuter force. “He” is the means and substance of a continuing personal relationship with the Divine. “Of all that I told you” hearkens back to verse twenty-five, “I have told you this while I am still with you,” and interprets it to mean all that Jesus taught either by word or example. Now, the Spirit will ensure and empower the correct interpretation for new and unforeseen situations. Jesus’ teaching is not locked into a particular time or framework. It is for all time and times. The Spirit will see to it that its relevance and power are unlocked.
In verse twenty-seven, “peace…not as the world gives,” Jesus is saying “good-bye” to his friends and so “peace” would be appropriate in any event. It was used as both a greeting and a farewell. But this is no ordinary good-bye. And “peace” means more than ordinary well being. It is another word for “salvation” or “wholeness.” It can also be stretched in this context to be another word for the Spirit and even for Jesus himself. “Leave” means here “bequeath.” Thus, it is not a mere farewell, given “as the world gives,” but an abiding and enduring legacy, a living legacy. “Peace” summarizes everything Jesus taught and gives, namely, “eternal life.”
In verse twenty-eight, “if you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father,” Real love for and of Jesus is generous, not possessive. Since it is good for Jesus to return, and in the best interests of all, then the disciples should be glad for him and glad for the effects on them of his departure. There is no advantage in being crippled by emotional reactions of grief or loss. That is simply not the real picture. Jesus is completing his mission by departing, not defeating his purpose in coming.
“Because the Father is greater than I,” the theological controversies of the later 3rd and 4th centuries should not cause us to read more into this verse than is there. Necessarily the Father and Son relationship implies subordination to some extent. It does not mean that Jesus is a lesser kind of being, not really divine, but that, in so far as his mission is concerned, it is the Father who is the sender, and therefore the “greater.” In 10:30 Jesus also said, “The Father and I are one.” Likewise in 14:9 he said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” While doing his mission and modeling obedience Jesus was in a somewhat lesser role. Now that it is finished he enjoys equal glory with the Father. This should be cause for rejoicing, neither grieving, as the apostles would want to do, nor fighting, as later Christians, unhappily, did.
In verse twenty-nine, “I have told you this before it occurs,” Jesus has been describing the conditions of the future, not his future but theirs and ours. First, he must undergo the Passion. As the prophets of old, he saw the present in much broader perspective and so could seem to predict a pre-written future when, in fact, all he was doing was describing what he saw. Like the faithful missioner he was, he continued right up until the end to enlighten his disciples as to what was really there for the seeing, if only they used their eyes of faith, a faith later confirmed by the outcome.
What about this “peace,” this special peace, an unworldly peace, which Jesus gives? It turns out to be Jesus himself! He gives us his Spirit, which is to say, himself in “Spirit” and he describes this gift in as many ways as his can. One of those ways is to use the term “peace.”
He certainly did not mean by it an absence of warfare. God knows we’ve had plenty of that. Nor did he mean an absence of psychological tension, although he really gets upset at his disciples about that. In fact, here and elsewhere he constantly says things like “Do not be afraid” or “Do not let your hearts be troubled” or “Have courage” etc. He clearly was not advocating a sentimental feeling of well being, desirable though that may be. No, he was talking about giving himself, being within us at all times. That means that peace, salvation, truth, light, life and joy are all figurative ways of describing or getting at different facets of the one gift, the gift of himself, the gift of eternal life. Typically a reading at funerals, “peace is described as one of the blessings of the “souls of the just,” who are in the hand of God, that is, dead, physically dead. But, now, in Jesus, this peace is to be enjoyed by living Christians during this life, by those who are “dead to the world.”
This is “attitude” peace, not “feeling” peace. The world cannot give it, nor get it on its own power. It is a gift from Jesus, the gift of Jesus himself. And if Jesus, then the Trinity. All of God lives in each Christian and God, if we let him, insinuates himself into every relationship we have. He accompanies us into our experience of the world, strengthening us with his strength and enabling us to perceive the world as he does. Therefore, Jesus says, “rejoice,” which is to say “Have fun.” Christians have a special kind of fun as they experience themselves playing not only in God’s presence, but with God’s Son. Even painful experiences lose their sharpness in this awareness. Everything has the potential of being experienced as “fun.” That is why in a situation that ordinarily would call for gloom, Jesus says, “Cheer up” and look at things the way I do, the way they really are.
He bequeaths to us his own Spirit. The Spirit, like peace, is Jesus, now present within us, no longer incarnate in his own earthly body, he takes His residence in our bodies and becomes incarnate again and again. He is spreading himself throughout the world through Christians and their bodies. The Spirit is now the ‘form” Jesus takes in order to remain in the world. God did not become human and reveal himself in a human body-being-spirit-person just for folks who lived in first century Palestine. The mystery of the Incarnation, the human “enfleshing” or “enfleshment” of God, did not stop with Jesus. Jesus was the high point and the uniquely unrepeatable point in this mysterious process. In that sense we can say that he is the “end point.” However, we do not mean by that term that he “ended” being in us and among us at some point in human history. He continues to live in us today and therefore live in the world today via his Spirit.
His Spirit, however, is no ghost. His Spirit takes on human flesh when he acts in and through us. Now none of us will ever become God in anything like the way God became human. However, as 1John3: 2 says, “…we shall be like him.” That happens when we allow the Spirit of God to insinuate himself into our spirit to such a degree that he takes over. Then, through our bodies-flesh-persons-activity, the Spirit of God becomes incarnate again and again in every act we perform under his guidance-inspiration-power. Thus, in one sense, the Incarnation was a once and for all time event; in another sense, it continues through time until Christ “comes again.” That also means “becomes again.” Christ becomes again when a Christian lets his Spirit rule his or her life. Jesus tells us here that “keeping his word” and “loving” him amount to the same thing. For, when we keep his word, that is, show that we do love him, his word become part and parcel of our flesh, meaning every aspect of our being, including the material. In one sense, Jesus left the earth; in another, he never left because he left us his Spirit.
The claim to love Jesus can only be verified if his words are kept, that is, lived.
Keeping his words incarnate Jesus in the person keeping them and reveal Jesus to the world today.
Jesus’ words can only be kept, lived, if his Spirit is present and active. Otherwise his words become dead letters.
Jesus uses different words- like “Spirit” and “peace”- to refer to the same reality.
Different words used to point to the same reality let us see that reality in its various facets, enriching our understanding and experience and empowering us to recognize God in the different ways he reveals himself.
Different words: Just as Jesus uses different parables, different comparisons, different analogies to get at the same reality, especially as we read them in the Synoptics, so he uses different words or concepts and even images in John to get at the same reality. In the Synoptics the overriding analogy or image or concept is the Kingdom of God or heaven. In John the Kingdom is replaced by the analogy or concept or image of the King, Jesus himself. Indeed, what is said about the Kingdom of God in the Synoptics is said about Jesus, the King, in John. Jesus is always pointing to the reality of God. In the Synoptics he points away from himself, thereby emphasizing his humility as a human being. In John he is pointing to himself, thereby emphasizing his union with divinity, his Father, God. Fundamentally, everything is about God and the human response to God, that is, relationship. In Scripture “relationship” is called “covenant.” Different words, but the same reality. The same reality looked at from different angles, aspects, facet, modes. “Father” and “Son” are relationship words but they refer to the same reality, God. “Father,” “Son” and “Spirit” all refer to the one God, though they are different words. They refer to God as we experience him in various ways, aspects, modes, facets, phases even. The same is true of “Peace” and “Paraclete.” If Jesus physical death prompts the Father and Son to send the Spirit and if Jesus leaves us his “peace” then Spirit and peace refer to the same reality. Then again, so does joy and all the other ‘fruits” of the Spirit and “gifts” of the Spirit. They are all experiences of the same reality with slight differences or nuances. We should not be put off by all these different ways of referring to the same reality or same relationship with God. Jesus is THE teacher as well as THE King. He approaches his task of teaching humans about more-than-human realities like any good teacher, that is, by saying the same thing in other words over and over again. Each repetition of the same idea in a different key allows more understanding and more and more people to understand what he is saying. If one image or analogy or comparison or word does not get you, perhaps another will. At some point we “see the light” and see by that light into dimensions of reality otherwise closed to us. So, we sit with these various texts and ponder them. We let their truth sink into our minds, hearts, spirits, and beings. We deepen and broaden in our understanding of the words only to enter into union with the Word behind the words. That is why all of Scripture, originally spoken, was written down. It is for us, the later generations. It is so that we also can be in as close contact with the original words of Jesus and his apostles as possible and so that we can receive the same enlightenment and the same power to live or keeps those words. When Jesus says that loving him amounts to keeping his word he helps us to avoid assigning meaning to “love” that he does not intend. When he says “word” instead of “words” he means for us to equate his teaching with himself, not with mere grammatical correctness or exact repetition of words. In the Synoptics that same idea comes out as keeping the spirit of the Law rather than the letter, an idea Paul especially hammered home.
Ongoing Incarnation: Just as a thought is devoid of any materiality until it is formulated, incarnated, into a word, a word that need not even be spoken aloud, so also the Spirit remains “immaterial” or irrelevant to the world until the Spirit is embodied by the actions of the body in which it is present. Amen.