John 16:25-30. Plain speaking

Jn 16:25 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”

29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”

Finally Jesus’ disciples ‘get it’: Jesus came from the Father and entered the world. Now he is leaving the world and going back to the Father. It sounds straightforward enough… except for the implications. God’s Agent who pre-exists his human birth, is standing right in front of them— just as he has been for the past three years. Further, God’s Agent shares all his authority, has direct access and address to God, and is confidently returning to him.

If all that is true, who is he? The conclusion seems inescapable: God has become human– with eyebrows, elbows and knee-caps. God has been among them but did not destroy them in their sin. Instead, he has loved them. He has graciously revealed himself to them. On the other hand, God does not yet seem to have changed the world much, even though he has been resident for a while. And now he’s leaving… It makes sense. A bit.

But there is comfort. Jesus says that soon they too will address the Father, not indirectly with Jesus as Agent and Go-between, but ‘in his name’. They will address God as though they were Jesus. And he will love them. Relationship with the Father will be opened to them in a way never imagined or anticipated.

The enormity of this news is slowly dawning on the disciples. They have begun to grasp just the very beginnings of who Jesus is and how he relates to God. As the beneficiaries of the work of the Spirit and centuries of theological rigour, we might smile at the disciples’ struggle. But our knowingness is some kind of vanity. God incarnate who goes to the cross to become King of creation, turning death back upon itself and redeeming God’s elect for eternity is a beautiful mystery revealed only by grace.

Heavenly Father, thank you for graciously revealing your gospel to me. Thank you for your Spirit’s enabling and faith to believe it. Please enrich me in knowledge of you and your will that I might now live as you have called me to.