August 12, 2020

Sunday’s Gospel: Upper Room Promises

By Chaplain Mike

Each Sunday, we present devotional thoughts based upon the Gospel reading from the Revised Common Lectionary.

Today is the sixth Sunday in Easter.
Today’s Gospel is John 14:23-29
(GNT).

Gospel Text

Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and my Father and I will come to them and live with them. Those who do not love me do not obey my teaching. And the teaching you have heard is not mine, but comes from the Father, who sent me. “I have told you this while I am still with you. The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you. “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid. You heard me say to you, “I am leaving, but I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father; for he is greater than I. I have told you this now before it all happens, so that when it does happen, you will believe.

Thoughts

  • Love and obedience.
  • Memory.
  • Peace.

These characteristics of life with Christ were the very aspects the disciples struggled with in the Upper Room and days following.

  • In the sight of Jesus humbling himself to wash their feet, their lack of obedient love for him and one another had been exposed.
  • All the Gospels likewise testify to their cluelessness about the suffering their Master was about to endure, the death he was soon to die. They simply forgot or had not adequately processed his words foretelling the tribulation to come.
  • Finally, a growing sense of dread was squeezing their hearts, soon to explode within them into full-blown terror, causing them to flee and hide in self-protection.

Yet here, in the midst of the turmoil, Jesus promises them that his “going away” will bring to pass a new situation in which these virtues will grow in them. His “going to the Father” will lead to a new day when the Father and Son will “come to them” and send the Spirit to them. With the presence of the Triune God supporting and sustaining them, Jesus’ friends will find a new spiritual capacity to love, obey, remember Jesus’ teachings, and experience his peace.

  • To enable them to obey God and love one another, Jesus pledges this gift: “My Father will love them, and my Father and I will come to them and live with them.”
  • To assist them in remembering Jesus’ words, he will send the Holy Spirit, the Helper, who will bring his teachings to mind and seal his sayings in their hearts.
  • To calm their trembling spirits and relieve their fears, Jesus promises to impart a peace unlike anything the world could ever give, a peace that will involve his very presence with them.

The new situation Jesus promised his friends in the Upper Room is the Easter reality in which we, those who follow Christ through the words of those apostles, live.

Peace, troubled soul, thou need’st not fear;
Thy great Provider still is near;
Who fed thee last, will feed thee still:
Be calm, and sink into His will.

The Lord, who built the earth and sky,
In mercy stoops to hear thy cry;
His promise all may freely claim;
Ask and receive in Jesus’ Name.

Without reserve give Christ your heart,
Let Him His righteousness impart;
Then all things else He’ll freely give;
With Him you all things shall receive.

Thus shall the soul be truly blest,
That seeks in God His only rest;
May I that happy person be,
In time and in eternity.

Words by Samuel Ecking, late 18th century

Comments

  1. JoanieD says

    I love Jesus’ words, “Do not be afraid.” I think so much of the trouble we have in life is because we are afraid. We are afraid of pain, abandonment, loss, death, disease, unhappiness, evil, lack of control and so much more. We need to trust God that He is with us in every moment of our lives. We get busy in the daily-ness of our lives, though, and forget. Let Jesus’ words remind you that He is with you at all times.

    • Thanks for this comment, Joanie. It seems to me that much of human behavior (especially the negative) is directly or indirectly related to fear. It is our most elemental problem.

      How fitting that we are taught that love is its opposite (“perfect love casts out fear,” etc.)

  2. A beautiful reminder of how much has been given to us in Christ. The blessed Trinity has given us themselves so that we have everything we need for “life and godliness” now! The Spirit is always with us/in us reminding and empowering us to live each moment in the Peace that is Christ. We are never alone in our thoughts or our circumstances. He is always present to comfort and guide us in Jesus’ ways, truth and life. He is risen!

  3. What rich blessings Jesus poured out on his disciples. He promised to be near but also provide the Spirit. It sure seems that all went way over their heads until later. What a shame.

  4. “This is my body. This is my blood. Given and shed for you.”

    Those are the promises that I can rely on, especially if I am tempted to get religious and occupied with ‘self’ and what I AM DOING.

    The external Word are the promises that give us assurance.

    Thanks.