The Gospel for today has a number of “sayings” of the Lord Jesus which all amount to a kind of litany of love and setting forth of the gifts that He by his grace is and will accomplish in us. Lets get right to work and consider the wonderful gifts of grace.
I. Power – Jesus said to his disciples: “Whoever loves me will keep my word
Here is a fundamental theology of grace: that the keeping of the commandments and mandates of the Lord’s word is the fruit of his Love. Let us state it plainly: the keeping of the Commandments is the fruit of Love, not the cause of it. “Yes,” says the Lord, “If you love me, the keeping of the commandments is sure to follow.” And note this too, we do not initiate this Love, God does. Scripture says, We love because he first Loved us (1 John 4:19).
Pay attention. No one can give what they do not have, and no one can possess what they have not received. God is the author and initiator of Love. Thus Love ALWAYS starts with him. The Lord is not setting up some sort of loyalty test here as if he were saying “If you love me, prove it by keeping the commandments.” That is not he gospel! The Gospel is that God has loved us, before we were ever born, before we could do anything to merit it. He loved us when we were dead in our sins. And HE took the initiative and loved us, when we hated him and crucified him.
And if we will accept this love, it will enable us to love God with the same love with which he has loved us. And with his love in us we will begin to love what he loves and who he loves. We will love holiness, forgiveness, mercy, justice, compassion, chastity, generosity and so forth. And we will love our brethren and even our enemies. Why? Because God loves them and when his love is in our heart, so is his love for them, and for all the things he loves besides.
Do you get this? Love enables us to keep his word, to live it and love it. When I was young I dated a girl who liked square dancing. At the time I had no love for square dancing and thought it silly. But my love for her meant I started to love what she loved, and her family too. Do you see it? Love changes our heart and our desires if we let it have its way.
So let Love have its way, and you will keep the commandments. The keeping of the commandments is the fruit of love, not its cause. Love is the power of grace at work in us to love what and who God loves. Jesus says, If you love me, you will keep my commandments (John 14:15).
II. Presence – [Jesus says] and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
One of the great desires of Jesus was to restore us to unity with the Father. Jesus was crazy about his Father and earnestly desired to have us know Him and love Him more deeply.
If we will but accept the Father’s love and shalom offered through Jesus, we will have a tender and joyful relationship with our Abba, our Father who loves us! Jesus often spoke of his Father almost as a doting Father. He was like a shepherd who left 99 in search of one, He was like someone who lost a coin and swept diligently to find it and, having found it, throws a party more costly that the value of the coin to celebrate. He is like a father whose son told him to drop dead but when His son finally returned, ran to meet him and threw a celebratory party.
Do you grasp this? The Father loves you and Jesus has reconciled you to him (cf 5:10). Now run to him, run to Abba, God. If you take one step, he’ll take two, and start running to embrace you!
This is the Gospel: Jesus Christ has reconciled us to the Father, by the Father’s own request. He loves you. Now run to him and watch him run to you. He wants not distance, but intimate presence, love and embrace.
III. Perfection – “I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.
We all know that the Christian journey is not accomplished in an instant. But rather, we make this journey with God, the Holy Spirit, who teaches us and makes us mindful of all that Jesus has done for us, and taught us. Little by little we are given a new mind, a new heart, a new walk, and new priority, a new and better life. May God who has begun a good work in bring it to perfection (cf Phil 1:6).
And if we are open, he is faithful and he WILL do it. The process may be slow, but that is because we have foreheads of brass and necks of iron (cf Is 48:4). But God is faithful and patient. I am a witness; and if he can change me, he can change you too. He has promised and will do it.
We will be transformed by the renewal of our minds (cf Rom 12:2), for the Holy Spirit will bring to our mind all that the Lord IS and all that he taught. Let the Lord change your mind and heart. And if he does that, the rest will follow: sow a thought, reap a deed, sow a deed reap a habit, sow a habit reap and character, sow a character reap a destiny. And it all begins with the mind.
One of the gifts of grace is the renewing our minds, leading to total transformation.
IV. Peace – Jesus says, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.“
What is the gift of peace? Peace is shalom, it is more than an absence of conflict. It is the presence in the relationship of everything that should be there. Peace is the experience that everything is alright.
For us peace is access once again to the Father. It is to be able to walk with him once again in Love, in and through Jesus Christ. And we don’t just walk with him in some earthly garden paradise, as Adam and Eve did (but lost). Rather we walk with him in heaven. In Jesus we are seated with the Father in honor at his right hand.
So, what does it mean when the same Jesus who said, “The Father and I are One” (Jn 10:30), also says, “The Father is greater than I” (Jn 14:28)?
Theologically it means that the Father is the source in the Trinity. All the members are co-eternal, co-equal, equally divine, but the Father is the Principium Deitatis (“the Principle of the Deity”).
Jesus proceeds from the Father from all eternity. In effect Jesus is saying, “I delight that the Father is the principle of my being, even though I have no origin.”
Devotionally, Jesus is saying I always do what pleases my Father. Jesus loves his Father, is crazy about him, is always talking about him and pointing to him. In effect, he says, by calling the Father greater, “I look to my Father for everything and I do what I see him doing (Jn 5:19) and what I know pleases him (Jn 5:30). His will and mine are one, and what I will to do proceeds from him and I do what I know accords with his will, Whom I love.”
And here then is the source of our peace, that we, with Jesus love the Father and always do what pleases him. And Jesus “goes to the Father” but he takes us with him, for we are members of his mystical Body. In Jesus, we enter the holy of holies, and sit next to the Father in love and intimacy.
Here then are some important gifts of grace. It is for us to lay hold of them and live out of them. The Lord promises them to us, so they are ours. And if at times they seem distant, reach out and take back what the devil stole from you. These are gifts of the Lord’s resurrected grace.
Here’s a song that speaks of peace and presence, not to mention power.