This is the most extraordinary verse in John’s Gospel. John wrote his Gospel so that the reader might believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that by believing we may have eternal life. John also continually emphasised the physical aspect of Jesus’ life, saying he was tired, hungry or emotional. Because of this we have a saviour and friend to whom we can call out to help, who is, on the one hand, the son of God, but on the other, so very human. Jesus weeps when he sees Martha and Mary after the death of their brother, and his friend, Lazarus, and can see the depth of their grief.
Today, we too have shed tears. We have hosted a gathering in Chaplaincy of staff and students to watch the livestream funeral of one of our own.
Two things happen in such moments. First the deep and raw humanity of loss kind of resets the balance, helping us to realise what is important and what is not. The second is linked – we re-evaluate that the hope we have. We used a phrase this morning, ‘the certainty of hope in the mystery of God’.
So what does this look like?
23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you.
26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.
29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. (John 14: 23-29)
These seven verses are packed with gold. We learn that when we seek to follow Jesus, his Father will love us, and they will both come and make their home with us. What a thought! (I am often saying in my prayer time: “Please can you come in, I’m sorry it’s a bit of a mess”.) We then hear Jesus’ promise the Holy Spirit – he will go and the Spirit will come, to both guide - looking forwards, and remind - looking backwards. Jesus promises a peace that the world cannot give.
Often in life it is only when we look back that we see the moves of God and the prompting of his Holy Spirit. Well, Jesus covers that too. He tells us of these gifts before they happen, so that when they do, we will believe. Faith is lifelong learning.