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Sermon by the Rev. Dr. George Hermanson, "."
Anyone with a Red-Letter edition of this Gospel - with the words of Jesus printed in red - will know that this passage comes in the second half of a long speech by Jesus to his disciples at their last meal together before he is arrested and brutally executed.
It began way back in John 13:1, where John comments:
Now, before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart this world and go to the Father.
And finishes at the end of Chapter 17, Verse 26, where Jesus concludes:
I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.
So we need to hear this brief section from Chapter 16, not as Jesus giving a lecture on the doctrine of the Trinity, but as a personally intense commitment of abiding, continuing, present love / loyalty / protection / guidance / bonding with his followers then - and now - and always. (Which may be all that needs to be said about the doctrine of the Trinity.)
To set the context for this passage, we need to recall the things Jesus has just said to his followers from Chapter 13 to here. Jesus had not spoken of them before, "because I was with you."
But now that he is going away from them, he speaks of "these things" now so that his followers might know:
- Jesus' foreknowledge of what is about to happen demonstrates that he is "above" the events. The earthly authorities may seem to be exercising power over him, over his body, but they do not really have any power or authority over Jesus.
Jesus goes forward with the full knowledge of the betrayal, denial, forsaken abandonment, and brutal pain that lies ahead, not because he is a masochist, and not because this is a sacrifice that God requires in order to forgive us.
Jesus goes forward to reveal the glory of God, the honour of God, the loyalty of God; to make known the power of God's love; and to show the weakness and futility of violence, disloyalty, self-preservation, fear, death, etc., etc.
- Jesus is "going away," but will also continue to abide - not with, but within his followers - as love, when his followers keep his commandments.
And also by a new presence, the Spirit of Truth.