Click here, John 14:15-21, for an easy to print or email Adobe PDF version.
This passage continues from last week's reading, and is part of Jesus' final speech to his followers before his arrest, trial, torture, and brutal execution.
It follows the classic form of a farewell speech: addressing the survivors' needs and fears; giving instructions for their future behaviour; giving glimpses of the otherwise-unseen-but-present other world, and of immediate future events.
It is also very typically non-linear.
John's reporting of Jesus is not concerned with "history:" what Jesus actually said; where he went; who he met; etc., etc. John wants us to SEE Jesus for who he really is. And the kind of SEEING that John is meaning requires adapting a sideways glance - finding the crack in everything (a la Leonard Cohen). That is why John's reporting of Jesus is so convoluted and confusing to us: he repeats and circles around; confounding our linear "seeing" so that we might really SEE.
Aside: For more on this see my note (no pun intended) Seeing Jesus.
Verse 15. This should NOT be read with a finger-wagging, stern warning tone of voice. This is more a statement of plain common sense logic. What is the commandment? "Love one another as I have loved you." (John 15:12) So this verse reads:
If you love me, you will keep my commandment to love one another as I have loved you.
Verse 16. Since Jesus is about to leave them, Jesus now promises that he will ask God, and God will send them a helper, the Spirit of truth. The "world" cannot "SEE" this spirit, because it has not "seen" Jesus. This Spirit will abide in us as Jesus abides in us. It is a Spirit of truth.
Aside: The underlying Greek word which is translated into English as "truth" is alethea. In Greek, an initial letter "a" is like our English "un." "Lethe" is the river in Greek mythology that the dead drank from in Hades in order to forget their past. And so "a-lethea" - truth - has the sense of: waking up; remembering; overcoming oblivion and stupor; being alive and vital; not being deceived by false ideas or desires or scams; SEEING what is as it actually is.
This verse and the following ones require us to remember that a crucial stress in John is that of abiding. Jesus abides in the Father, the Father in Jesus, Jesus in his followers, his followers in him, the Spirit in them, etc., etc. This means that when it comes to love, Jesus, God, the Spirit, and his followers are all inter-changeable terms.
For example, if Jesus is abiding in you, and I love you as Jesus loves me, then I am loving Jesus (who is abiding in you).