John 14 : 15 - 16, 23 - 26 ( NRSV )

"If you love me,
you will keep my commandments.(15)
And I will ask the Father,
and the Father will give you another Advocate,1
to be with you for ever"(16) . . ,
Jesus answered Judas,
"Anyone who loves me will keep my words.
and God who sent me will love them,
and we shall come to them
and make our home with them.
Those who do not love me do not keep my words.
And my word is not my own;
it is the word of the One who sent me.
I have said these things to you
while still with you;
but the Advocate, the holy Spirit,
who will be sent in my name,
will teach you everything
and remind you of all I have said to you".(26)

Comment

     Jesus continues His farewell talk to His disciples. Jesus is the visible presence of God among humanity. He is the person who establishes a new covenant with the disciples. He speaks like the covenant God of Sinai, demanding to be loved exclusively.
     In continuing His farewell talk to his disciples, Jesus declares that they love Him by obeying His commandments. Already they know that these commandments are only one - the new commandment! Jesus is love incarnate. He is the new commandment. To live His message of love is to love one another. The Father, who is Love, sent Jesus, love incarnate. Now Jesus is going to send the spirit of Love. Jesus doesn't call this spirit, the spirit of Love. He calls it the Spirit of Truth(v.16).
     In the Hebrew scriptures, the holy Spirit is the spirit of YHWH and that's the same as saying the spirit of Justice and true Freedom. The spirit of YHWH spoke through the prophets proclaiming the truth. The spirit of God, or the spirit of Justice, is the spirit of struggle that is present in people. It is also the spirit of Jesus. Worldly ones who practise injustice, don't see or recognise this spirit (v.17b). When Jesus came into the world, it was full of falsehoods, myths and deceptions, because it was full of injustice. Somewhere else John says that Truth is the same as Love. In John's gospel "the world" means the same as "the system" or the unjust society! Jesus says those who belong to the system, cannot receive the spirit. Jesus implies a continued or permanent presence of God's Spirit (v.18).
     The Paraclete, or Advocate, is this presence (v.16) while Jesus is absent! The spirit of Truth, God's powerful and nurturing presence, will be given after Jesus departs. The Paraclete will carry on the earthly advocacy work of Jesus, in and through the disciples. The real gift of Jesus after the resurrection, was the union with Him that does not depend on His bodily presence to all His followers (vv.19-21). After the resurrection, Jesus' life is the source of the Christian life as a community. When life in Jesus' Spirit has been received by His followers, they will recognise that it is a life mutually shared by God - Father and Son (v.20)
     The condition for sharing in the indwelling of the Father and the Son in our lives, is keeping Jesus' commandment. This is loving Him. It is really repeating the earlier verse (cf v.15). Love and keeping the commandments are two different facets of the same way of life. The one who loves is the one who practices the truth and commits no injustice. God is Truth, and Love is Truth. But what happens is that many of us know the Truth, but we don't practise it, or we don't obey the Truth out of fear. We obey a lie. If we obey Jesus' commandment, we have to disobey the commandments of worldly ones. Jesus promises that those who follow His commandment to love, will be able to understand (v.21).      Jesus had indicated He would reveal Himself to His disciples but not to the world. "The world" meant those who cannot recognise the Spirit of Truth (vv.17-21). In their name, Judas (not Iscariot) asks why Jesus would limit His self-revelation to His circle of disciples (v.22). In the Hebrew tradition the Holy Spirit is the spirit of YHWH, which is the same as saying the spirit of justice and liberation. It is the spirit of YHWH that spoke through the prophets proclaiming the truth. When Jesus came, the world was full of falsehoods, myths and deceptions because it was full of injustices. Somewhere else the author identifies truth with love. Jesus' answer to Judas is that those who don't act in His Spirit (follow His commands) will not be able to understand Him.
     It is the Spirit of Jesus that will remind disciples of His practice. It is the Spirit that reminds us what's in the scriptures we comment on -- and which has often been forgotten! Jesus knew that His message was going to be forgotten. The holy Spirit of God, the revolutionary inspiration that exists in the world, is going to adopt the role of counselor or advocate, to remind us disciples of Jesus' Word.
 
footnotes:
John 14:1-31 Jesus' departure and return. This section is a dialogue marked off by a literary inclusion in Jn.14:1, 27: "Do not let your hearts be troubled."
1. [ v.16 ] Another Advocate: Jesus is the first advocate (paraclete); cf 1 Jn.2:1, where Jesus is an advocate in the sense of intercessor in heaven. The Greek term derives from legal terminology for an advocate or defence lawyer and can mean spokesman, mediator, intercessor, comforter, consoler, although no one of these terms encompasses the meaning in John. The Paraclete in John is a teacher, a witness to Jesus, and a prosecutor of the world, who represents the continued presence on earth of the Jesus who has returned to the Father.


 

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