John devotes a lot of time to Jesus’ farewell to his disciples. In this selection, Jesus tells the disciples that he has more to say but the news is beyond what they can bear. What is the worst news that anyone can give to us? If the person is one we truly love, the worst would have to be of their death. We can join with them in the struggle against a terminal illness and try to manage the side affects, for example. What is the most difficult is losing them and facing life ahead without them.
Jesus had already told them a few verses earlier that they will find themselves ousted from the synagogue. More than that, some of the disciples will even be killed by people thinking they are serving God. Now Jesus is saying he is going away and in their grief that is all they can handle for now. The loss of Christ would be the ultimate loss. Their bad news and resulting questions are the same for us today. How would we (the church) move forward as his body in the world? How would we speak of hope without his guiding words? How would we know his comfort without his presence?
This Sunday is Holy Trinity Sunday and we struggle to understand God as Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The harder we try to put this doctrine written down in stone, the more elusive is the outcome. Yet, this is the way that God has chosen to relate with us. The sad news was of Jesus going to the Father. The good news is that the Counselor – the Spirit of truth – will come to guide us in the truth.
Our listening isn’t always the best. We choose to hear what we want to hear. However, if the church is to be a witness to Christ then we need to listen to the guidance from the Spirit of truth. If we are going to speak of hope then we need to listen better to the instruction from the Spirit of truth. If we are going to know comfort from Christ, it will be by the Spirit’s presence.
The bad news was of Jesus going to the Father. The good news is the coming of the Spirit of truth. We need the Spirit to guide us as our poor stewardship is leading to climate change. We need the Spirit of truth to help us maneuver in a world where truth has become self defined. We need the Spirit to guide us into the future that is still to unfold.
While Jesus has gone to the Father, we have the Spirit with us. The good news of the Trinity is that God has not abandoned us but is fully engaged in redeeming the world around us.