Saturday 20 April 2024

John 14:22-31 – Not to the world?

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‘Why are you showing yourself to us, but not to the world?’ This is such an interesting question, it’s also a natural question. Judas (not Iscariot) wants to know why Jesus shows himself to the twelve, but not to the world. The question suggests it’s Jesus’ choice to hide himself from most people but show himself to a few. Judas is right to find this strange! But it’s not what Jesus has in mind.

In verse 23, he responds by saying that for everyone who loves him, he and the Father will come and make their home in that person. In other words, it’s not just for the twelve, but for anyone in the world who loves Jesus. Or to put it another way, the answer is that he will reveal himself to anyone – if they love him. He doesn’t hide from anybody, but those who don’t love him can never truly see him.

Short of time - Jesus needs to wind the conversation up because he knows what will happen next. He reminds them again of the promised Spirit and tells them that he and his Father will live within them; and the Spirit will teach them and remind them of everything they need to know. He also promises to leave his peace with them, and tells them not to worry or be afraid. This seems to me particularly striking when you consider what Jesus is about to go through at the hands of the Sanhedrin and the Roman governor.

And finally, in verses 28 to 31, he reminds them that he’s going to the Father who is greater than he is, and they will be glad (once they understand the significance of this). So, in what way is the Father greater than the Son? Does this idea even make any sense when we know that Father, Son and Spirit are co-equal within the structure we call ‘trinity’, the three in oneness that they share together? Perhaps the answer is simply that Jesus has limited himself within a human body in order to reach us in this world. For more than 30 years he has remained limited, but in returning to the Father he will regain the ability to be present everywhere at every moment of time with all of his people. In his human body he is inevitably less powerful than the Father, only able to act in the one place and time where he finds himself. He took on our limitations so that he could reach us on our level, in ways we can understand. That time is coming to an end as he returns to the Father.

Time’s up - And then they leave, and the final act will open.

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