15”If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
When you read this passage, it's easy to think that Jesus is talking about those special people in his life. Jesus is talking to his disciples, continuing this long farewell speech that started in John 13. In this passage, he tells the disciples that they will recieve the Spirit, something the world can't recieve because they don't know Jesus.
It's easy to hear this passage and think not just think Jesus is speaking to his disciples, but that he is speaking to us, the present-day disciples who want to follow Jesus. It's also easy to think that we have some special knowledge that the rest of the world doesn't have. We have access to the Spirit, something the rest of those poor suckers don't have.
Only, the disciples didn't quite get it, did they? Peter denied Jesus, Judas betrayed him and the rest basically took off at the very moment Jesus needed them. Even as Jesus is speaking to them about being given the Spirit, they were like the rest of the world in not knowing who Jesus was.
What should dawn on us is that the disciples, both then and now are also part of the world, the world that denies and ignores Jesus. We are the world.
This passage reveals that those who profess to follow Jesus can be just as blind as everyone else. It reminds us that we are as the old saying goes, simply "sinners by grace."
As we stand in our pulpits or sit in the pews this Sunday, we should remember that we don't always "get Jesus." Like the disciples of old, we can be see Jesus right in front of us and yet not see Jesus- choosing to live as if God didn't exist.
But while that is part of the message here this week, thank God it isn't the whole message. Jesus starts this passage by saying that if we love him we will keep his commandments. It all goes back to relationship. We place our trust in Jesus. We love Jesus and we show our love by keeping his commandments- even though we will mess up.
Maybe it's not accidental that we have this text on Memorial Day weekend, a time when we remember those who gave their lives serving their country. These folks showed their love of country by serving and giving the ultimate sacrifice. The servicemen and women who died serving showed fidelity- an ongoing relationship with their nation. Likewise, we are called to fidelity with Christ, an ongoing relationship where we show our love in keeping his commandments- loving our neighbor, welcoming the outcast and loving even the enemy. We do this as imperfect disciples who sometimes don't understand Jesus, but still going on serving in Jesus name.
Go and be church.