Sunday

21 May 2017

“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you” (v. 18)

Psalm: Psalm 66


Background

Here in John's Gospel Jesus is speaking to his disciples about what is going to happen to him, "in a little while the world will see me no longer" (v. 19). Understandably they are bewildered and downcast about the impending events. So Jesus speaks words of both challenge and consolation.

The words of challenge are that just as Jesus is obedient to his Father, so the disciples will show their love for him by their obedience. This 'love' of which he speaks is not a sentiment or an emotion but a consistency of word and action, and a lived commitment to the values that Jesus has exemplified in his ministry. This love is no easy love, just as the grace of God is no cheap grace.

Jesus knows what a challenge this loving obedience will be and so he promises the disciples a helper - the term 'Advocate' (v. 16) is used in the translation we have used. The word comes from the Greek word 'parakletos' which means someone called in to help in a situation of trouble or distress. Sometimes the word 'Comforter' is used, in its old sense of enabling the dispirited to be brave. So Jesus promises his disciples the Holy Spirit who will enable them to cope with the challenges that lie ahead.

Jesus gives his disciples a very personal and intimate encouragement, "I will not leave you orphaned". Recognising the disciples' sense of foreboding and loss, he wants to reassure them. They will not be like sheep without a shepherd or followers without a leader. They will not be left forlorn. Rather they will be given a helper who will not only enable them to cope but also live out the calling to love in action.


To Ponder

  • Are there times when you have felt 'orphaned'? Recollect how you came out from that experience and what helped you.
  • How can the Church and individual Christians help to give people outside the community of faith a deeper understanding of the richness of the concept of love?

 
Bible notes author:  The Revd Jennifer Potter

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