Grace and peace to you from God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
This weekend is the final weekend of the Easter season for this year. The passage from the Gospel is again from St. John the Evangelist. The story is the promise of the Holy Spirit for the believers. The Holy Spirit is sometimes referred to as the Advocate, or the Companion, or the Comforter. Jesus says this Holy Spirit will be sent by God in Jesus’ name. The purpose of the Spirit is to “teach you everything and will remind you of everything I told you” John 14:26.
This 14th chapter of John is part of what is sometimes referred to as Jesus’ Farewell Discourse. Last week Jesus tells the disciples he must go and they cannot go with him. This is troubling for the disciples. Peter promises to be resolute in staying with Jesus throughout the “crisis.” Jesus tells him that he will not be able to do so. Then, in chapter 14, Jesus says those words which are so familiar: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places…” John 14:1-2ff. Jesus is still trying to comfort and encourage them as the chapter continues.
Toward the end of the chapter, Jesus returns to the new commandment he gave them to love each other. He says whoever loves him will keep his word and it is God’s word that they will be keeping. Then Jesus says that they will have a holy Companion—the Holy Spirit—to be with them forever and that the disciples are gifted with the peace of Jesus.
It would seem something of a natural progression to go from loving each other, the reception of the Holy Spirit, to receiving peace. Jesus tells them (and now us) that this peace is not like the peace the world talks about. That peace is more often the ending of a particular bit of violence which then brings temporary relief. The peace that Jesus gives is a peace that comes from within ourselves. This peace is the peace of God’s kingdom—justice, compassion, forgiveness, and, of course, love. When one keeps Jesus “word,” peace is the result because keeping his word puts you right into the Kingdom of God: what the Gospel of John calls eternal life. So keeping Jesus’ word means loving God and neighbor. That love is the very soul of the Holy Spirit. And the gift of the Holy Spirit is peace which gives one a recognition of eternal life with God. Let not your hearts be troubled.
Pastor Jeff Blackman