Do we ourselves keep Jesus’ commandments? If not, why not? Do we need to do anything about that?
As a follow-up to that question, probably a necessary one – what do we think Jesus’ commandments are?
Isn’t this the central question that arises from the text – John 14:15-29 – we’re studying for Sunday, July 31?
It’s also the question that seems to connect this text with the theme of this quarter, “partners in a new creation.” Because keeping Jesus’ commandments could be a way to contribute to that new creation. If only a new creation of ourselves.
Some notes on the text are here. Here are a couple of additional questions we might want to think about or discuss, in relation to this text:
One major theme in the text is the gift of the Advocate or Paraclete, the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit (vv 16-17, 26). How does the way Jesus talks about the Holy Spirit here fit with the way we normally think about the Holy Spirit? That is, does it reinforce our usual ideas? What are those? Does it change them in some way? How?
[More personal] What do we normally take as an “experience of the Holy Spirit”? Would we want to share, or feel comfortable sharing, any personal stories of this experience?
[Maybe even more personal] How important would we say experiences like this are to us? Why is that, do we think?
In v27, Jesus tells the disciples he is leaving his “peace” with them. What do we understand this to mean? Why do we think that?
Do we think it has any connection with the Spirit? What connection?
Do we think it has any connection with “shalom”? What connection?
[More personal] Does this peace seem valuable to us? Why?
[Maybe even more personal] Would we say we ourselves experience this peace? Why, or why not? How would we describe it? Thoughts, feelings about that?
How do we feel about Jesus here? Why is that? [Both – why does this text give us that feeling, do we think? A question about the text. And – why do we feel that way about that, why does that impression of Jesus give us that feeling? A question about us.]
[Here’s what I’m noticing, and why I ask this question: Jesus does not seem anxious at all. That leads me to think about when, where, and how anxiety arises, and then what it says about Jesus, and about Jesus’ understanding of the world, that he is NOT anxious. Especially when he knows he is about to walk out of this room into the consequences of betrayal, all the way through to the cross, … And it reminds me of that series of questions that I encountered in a book I read once:
- Do you believe the story of Jesus?
- Do you believe in Jesus?
- Do you believe Jesus?
- Do you believe what Jesus believed?
Ultimately, that question about peace may be deeply connected to that last question, it seems to me.
The book, btw, is David Augsburger, Dissident Discipleship: A Spirituality of Self-Surrender, Love of God, and Love of Neighbor, Brazos Press, 2006.]
Image: “Reading,” Alexander Moravov, 1913, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons