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Gospel of John 14: 15-21 (NIV)
15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you for ever – 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me any more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
How powerfully the image of the Holy Trinity is presented in this short passage! A single sentence from Jesus has brought all three persons together (verse 16): Jesus will ask the Father and the Father will give another Counsellor, the Spirit of truth who will be a companion forever.
From these verses I begin to understand why so many in the world not only reject Jesus but reject any possibility of his existence. It is evident from the Gospels that Jesus was known to ordinary people and to the Jewish and Roman authorities. Anticipating his imminent crucifixion, Jesus made what may seem to be an obvious statement: “Before long, the world will not see me any more …”. The startling part of this sentence was yet to come: “… but you will see me” (verse 19).
How could it be that “the world” would not see Jesus after his resurrection from death but that such a privilege would be granted only to his followers? It appears from verse 21 that Jesus is the one who decides to whom he will reveal himself. The opportunity to see him and the ability to recognise him are not necessarily prerogatives of just anybody for Jesus will show himself to the person who loves him. That person will in turn be loved by the Father and Jesus too will extend to that person his love.
The same, it seems, pertains to the Holy Spirit. “The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But,” said Jesus to his disciples, “you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you” (verse 17).
Loving God (the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit) is complemented by our putting into action our desire to do what pleases the beloved. That includes being obedient to what is commanded. I do not see this as responding instinctively to a word of command (the kind of obedience drilled into those in the uniformed services). Rather I see this as yearning always to be a source of delight to the beloved and that includes knowing what is required (commanded) and doing it willingly (obeying).
Conversely those who ignore God, those who deny God’s existence, have no sense of wishing to please God or to obey what is commanded. These are described as having eyes but not seeing, having ears but not hearing or, as Jesus said to the Pharisees, as facing condemnation: “now that you claim that you can see, your guilt remains” (John 9: 41).
Holy Spirit, live with us and be in us we pray, now and always. Amen.