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. 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.
‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 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. 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. 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. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. (NRSV).
When Jesus told his disciples he would be with them ‘…only a little longer…’ (John 13:33) the disciples took it to heart. They had invested so much in their teacher that they struggled to imagine what life would be like without his lead.
Who were they without Jesus? Where would they go? What would they do? What are disciples without a rabbi?
But Jesus is not without a plan – and one he is graciously and patiently revealing. After all, he has named these ‘friends’. He wants them to be in the know.
But his promised absence worries them. Simon Peter, Thomas, and Philip all ask of this coming absence prior to our passage. They are concerned at his abandonment. They are ‘troubled’ and ‘afraid’.
They want to know more: ‘Where are you going?’
Our passage is a response to another question. Judas (not Iscariot) asks: ‘Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?’
It is a fair question given Jesus’ previous remark: ‘…those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’
Jesus’ answer begins with an invitation to obey. Such obedience is the response of love – a love that will be reciprocated. The Father and Son – ‘we’ – will live in them.
Indeed, it is more than this. The Godhead will make a ‘home’ in the obedient.
It is, of course, beyond their comprehension. Perhaps they have come to know something of ‘God among us’ – but, God living in us? This is a different concept altogether.
But, as Jesus’ suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension unfold, there will be another alongside them. They will come to know and trust this one as well. The Spirit of God will be there – teaching, advocating, reminding. Even in the darkest of hours they will not be abandoned, left, or orphaned.
I am left wondering if this presence is the very source of the rest Jesus hopes they will know: ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you’.