Conditions apply – Monday, 5th Week in Easter – Acts 14:5-18/John 14:21-26
I have long held that obedience is the fruit of love. When you obey it means you love the other enough to trust them. But to obey is also to do as you are asked, not as you wish. It means you surrender your will to the will of another.
When God gave us the commandments, they were not a negotiated deal or a fruit of intense discussion. They were given, they were to be obeyed because we were supposed to be ‘his people’ who loved him. Sadly, it is the fickleness of the human race that wants unbridled love and acceptance without the demands of being attached to that which brings guidance. We want to follow our understanding of God without his commandments and in return we promise him some vague ‘spirituality’ that we claim to have.
Jesus is clear, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15) “They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me.” (John 14:21). If we do this then the Father too joins in the is love fest leading to a revelation of the love of Jesus to each of us who love him.
In the Gospel passage of today, Jesus has been teaching after having washed the apostles’ feet. What is interesting is, that this last supper has Jesus revealing himself completely and the apostles struggling with their acceptance of his words and actions. Peter did not want his feet washed. Philip was not satisfied and wanted to see the father and now Judas (not Iscariot) asks “how is it that will you reveal yourself to us and not to the world?”
Who is this Judas? Judas or Jude is called “son of James” and listed among the Twelve in Luke 6:16. He appears again in a list in Acts 1:13. He is believed to be the ‘Thaddaeus’ of Matthew 10:3 and Mark 3:18. So this is the one who is the cousin of Jesus and the patron of the hopeless.
Jude wants to know why Jesus only reveals himself to his disciples and not to the world. Jesus’ response is that anyone who responds to Him with love will certainly experience His love. The love of Jesus is not for some, it is for all but conditions apply. The ‘world,’ by definition in John’s gospel, consists of those who turn their back on Jesus, his message and his love and that is why Jesus says, “He who does not love me does not keep my words.” So, in answering Judas, Jesus repeated the themes from the previous verses. Jesus would be revealed to and among the disciples through love, obedience, and union with the Father and the Son.
Finally, to those apostles and to us who love the lord, Jesus assures us all that he will not leave us alone. The word, parakletos is translated variously as Advocate, Comforter, Counselor, or Helper, and describes a Spirit who remains at our side forever (v. 16) to represent us, defend us, argue our case, give peace, or provide counsel as needed. the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, will help us to remember Christ’s teachings and to interpret those teachings for our immediate situation. The Paraclete, the one who stands beside us day and night, will make all things clear.
This is still an encouraging word today. The Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, stands beside us to guide us. If we follow, the Spirit leads us to truth. If we obey, the Spirit leads us to life. But the blessings are not automatic. We must follow; we must obey. Conditions apply!