6th Sunday of Easter
May 21, 2017
John 14: 15-21
Who’s your superhero? Wonder Woman (My favorite!)? Batman (Pow!)? Superman (Faster than a speeding bullet)? No? You gave up superheroes long ago? Well, me too. But Jesus wants to talk to you. He has an Advocate for you. An advocate that abides forever.
You can ask Daina or Laura what an advocate is; it’s a legal term, not a theological one. An advocate it someone who fights for you. In a courtroom, it’s someone who’s familiar with the law and can help you put up an argument against the charges against you and defend you. A good advocate can be the difference between life and death. An advocate can be anyone who comes to your defense, who sticks up for you, who’s got your back in a bad situation, who can set the terms to your advantage.
Jesus is at supper with his disciples on the night he will be arrested. He has much to say, because he knows that this is their last time together and that they will be traumatized by all that is about to happen. He wants them to know that even though he is going away, he is not leaving them alone. Jesus abides.
Throughout the Gospel of John that word keeps popping up: abide. You may not see it translated as abide every time; it is also translated as ‘dwell,’ ‘stay,’ ‘be in,’ ‘be with me,’ ‘make our home with him.’ From the very beginning, John’s message is that God fills our world, came to be part of it – abide in it – and that especially after Jesus’ resurrection, God is still part of our world through the Spirit of Jesus, sent to accompany those who know and trust God.
I have to say that this is one of my personal favorite passages of Scripture. There have been plenty of times in my life when I have felt abandoned, seen my dreams crushed and expectations destroyed, been left behind, lost my way, had to start over again with my heart in shreds. “I will not leave you orphaned,” Jesus says.
I am coming to you.” In those times, that promise has been what saved me. To trust that Jesus is with me has made it possible to keep on living the way God expects, trusting God first and loving and honoring others.
I’m sure that you, too, have struggled, started over, learned to live without something that you counted on. Maybe you are in the middle of just such a struggle this day, this time. Jesus wants you to know that you are not alone. Jesus’ Spirit fights for you, to keep you from despair, to tell you over and over and over again how much God loves you. To make sure you know that you are a gift to the world and that even when you can’t see your way, God’s Spirit protects and defends you.
Because here’s the thing: Jesus’ death on the cross was to show you how much God loves you. When you see Jesus on the cross you see straight into God’s loving heart, willing to suffer all humans can dish out. When our hearts are broken and our lives feel wrecked, we can trust that God can meet us right there. Pain and brokenness are not foreign to God. But Jesus’ resurrection tells us that God’s love is stronger than death. What feels like death is never the end of the story. “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.”
We all need a superhero. Someone who can duke it out with the pain and craziness of our world and our lives. Someone who can keep us on track and in Jesus’ company through thick and thin. We all need to know that God notices our distress and our failures and hears our prayers. And Jesus wants you to rest assured that you have his own Advocate. He’s got your back. When we mark our babies with fragrant oil at their baptism, we say, “You are sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.” That’s what I’m talking about. Jesus abides. Amen.