3 May 2010

John 14:21-26

"Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, 'Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?' 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.'" (v.22-23)


This passage lies at the beginning of 'The Farewell Discourse' - four chapters in John's Gospel where Jesus gave his final teaching to his disciples as he said goodbye to them. These verses contain two important themes: Jesus' abiding presence with those who follow him and, love.

Earlier, in chapter 14, Jesus told his close disciples not to be afraid because he was going before them to prepare a place for them in his father's house. These words are often used in Christian funeral services and many people interpret them to mean that Jesus was going to prepare a place for his disciples in heaven. But the concepts of 'house' and 'dwelling' are used throughout John's Gospel as a metaphor for having a relationship with God and Jesus, and we see that here too.

The 'other' Judas (ie not the one who would betray Jesus) wondered how it could be that Jesus would reveal himself to the disciples but not to the world. The disciples were still stuck in their own idea of what the Messiah was going to be like: a mighty hero who would save the Jewish people from their enemies and oppressors - the Romans. But Jesus was talking about something different. He was talking about having a relationship with him in love. Not romantic love and not the kind of love a person has for a child or a parent, but the kind of love that is rooted in ethics and sometimes in duty: love God with all your heart and love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:36-39).

Christians often talk about 'having a relationship with God and Jesus' but it's not always clear to everyone what this might mean. Yet, throughout these passages, Jesus told his disciples that they saw what he did on earth, they had a friendship with him and, if they wanted to continue to be his friends after he is gone, they would imitate what Jesus did and obey what he taught them.

But still, the disciples remained puzzled about what it might mean to have a relationship with Jesus after he was gone from this earth.

To Ponder

Christians often talk about 'having a relationship with Jesus'. What, if anything, does this concept mean to you?

At funerals people often talk about the deceased 'living on' in the memory of the living. How have you continued to have a relationship with someone who has passed away?

What kind of love do you think that Jesus is talking about in the above passage?

Bible notes author

The Revd Pam Garrud

Pam is an ordained minister in the Methodist Church in Britain. In August 2009, Pam and her London-born husband Trevor moved to Pam's native United States for family reasons.