Introduction to this study
For the sixth Sunday of the 50-day long Easter season, Jesus continues his farewell discourses by instructing his followers to be obedient and keep the commandments, and by assuring them of his constant, forever presence in their lives. We experienced Jesus’ bestowal of the Holy Spirit on Easter Sunday evening; again in this passage, Jesus promises the gift of the Spirit.
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate, to be with you forever. 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.
18 “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
Backward and Forward
Earlier in John 14, Jesus tells his followers he is the way, the truth, and the life; he says they
will accomplish even greater works than he has done. Sunday after next, on the Seventh and last Sunday of Easter, from John 17 we’ll hear Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer with his plea for unity among his followers. The following Sunday, the 50th day of Easter, will be the Day of Pentecost, and then the lectionary begins the long green season of Ordinary Time.
If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
1. “Keep the commandments.” What commandments is Jesus referring to?
2. “If you love me...” What is the connection between love and obedience?
3. Read Matthew 22:36-40
But isn’t Jesus all about grace, about the free, unmerited, unearned (can’t be bought or worked for) gift? Hebrew bible scholar Walter Brueggemann calls the Ten Commandments the working documents for covenantal community. He says obeying the commandments helps us keep our freedom.
4. What is the connection between obedience and freedom?
5. What is the connection between commitment and freedom—in marriage, in employment (for example)?
Martin Luther begins his Small Catechism, traditional preparation for First Communion, with the Ten Commandments.
6. But aren’t the sacraments all about grace, about gift?
7. What does it mean to obey Jesus?
“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate.” Advocate as in counselor, defender, defense lawyer, helper, attorney—someone who reliably has your back.
8. What does is mean for you to have the Holy Spirit as advocate, defense attorney, by your side at all times?
Worlds and Orphans
In the New Testament, two different words typically get translated as “world.” Here in John 14, “world” means this created planet, a physical space and dwelling place; it also connotes people, institutions, and structures that possibly do not know, follow, or obey God. In the second paragraph, when Jesus promises not to leave us orphans, the Greek word is the same as our word for orphan.
9. Jesus will not leave us orphans? What does that promise feel like to you?
10. How do we experience the Spirit of Truth?
Where we live: according to scripture
This passage from John’s Gospel begins and ends with love, commandments, and obedience. The fulfillment of God’s promises to us depends upon the free, unearned gifts of grace, but they also depend upon our obedience.
John 14:21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.
11. What does Jesus mean when he tells us he and the Father will love and reveal themselves to those who love him?
12. Does God not love everyone?
The Fifty Days of Easter are almost over—Easter is a week of weeks (7 x 7). The Day of Pentecost is the fiftieth day of Easter!
13. How do we live in the Holy Spirit as Easter people every single day?
Final thoughts: What insights have you gained during this Easter season that will help you live Pentecost more fully?