Is there a more profound reading experience than reading John's Gospel and recognising a new depth of understanding?
Last Sunday and this coming Sunday the RCL takes us through John 14. The first few verses have become too familiar for me having taken a few funerals with verses 1-6 as the reading. But somehow this year my eyes have been drawn to new recognitions of what Jesus is saying in this last testament. Here is just one recognition from the two Sundays, from verse 20:
In these words 'a' if not 'the' central theme of John's Gospel is presented.
As the Son is to the Father, so are the disciples to the Son:
- as the Son is in the Father, so are the disciples in the Son;
- as the Father has sent the Son into the world, so the Son sends the disciples;
- as the Son reveals who the Father is, so his disciples are to reveal who the Son is.
In a twist about the very authorship of this unique gospel presentation of Jesus, the Son lies close to the heart of the Father (1:18) and the disciple who reveals this lies close to the heart of Jesus (13:23).
The verse cited above is in Jesus' speech about the way to the Father, which is the way to the Father in this life and the life beyond. The purpose of life is to live in the Son and the Son in us, which means union with the Father through the Son. As other verses in the chapter and subsequent chapters disclose this union involves the Spirit which proceeds from the Father and the Son. The purpose of life is union with God Father Son and Holy Spirit.
Our responsibility as Christians is enormous. John's revelation is that through Jesus we meet God and through us the world meets Jesus.
But which Jesus does the world meet when it meets me, or you, or all of us together as 'the church'?
If the world meets the wrong Jesus, some pale imitation perhaps, or some vague almost indiscernible figure, what on earth will it understand about God?