30 May 2015

John 14:8-17

“This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.” (v. 17)

Psalm: Psalm 133


This is an astonishing passage, in which Jesus is promising his disciples that they will come to be filled with the Holy Spirit and because of that they will be able to do everything he himself has done, and more. John sets this dialogue in the context of the Passover meal that Jesus is sharing with his disciples. On the face of it, this is a promise that is made when things are at their bleakest. Jesus has just predicted that one of them will betray him, and Judas has slipped out from the supper table to do just that (John 13:21-30). As John's Gospel puts it: "And it was night" (John 13:30). At a supper table where all are sharing the food and receiving the bread, it has been possible for one of them to receive evil into his heart instead of a blessing.

God cannot force us to receive the good things that are offered to us. Depending on how we are inclined to receive what is before us, we can take into ourselves the power either for good or evil. The Gospel of John often talks about 'the world' as an entity which, in itself, cannot understand or accept the word or presence of God, even though of course it has been created by God. The Prologue of John's Gospel (John 1:1-14) speaks about Jesus as the Word of God who took flesh, but was not recognised: "He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him." (John 1:10-11) And so this writer deals with the mystery of how Jesus could fail to be acknowledged by all.

We do not have the power, through our own efforts or understanding, to know what is truly going on in our world. Unless we are filled with the Spirit, our eyes remain veiled and our ears blocked. But when God's Spirit is within us, we will understand, and we will be able to receive what God has in store for us.

To Ponder

  • Think about some of your strongly held political views. Who or what has given rise to these convictions in you?
  • As you encounter the news each day, pray for the Spirit of God to help you interpret the world.

Bible notes author

Janet Morley

Janet Morley is currently the Commissioning Editor for HOLINESS, the journal of Wesley House, Cambridge ( She worked for ten years in the Connexional Team, with the training and development officers, and latterly, as Head of Christian Communication, Evangelism and Advocacy.