Sometimes I think that Jesus must have felt like the head of the
Department of Rhetorical Redundancy. How many times and in how
many ways do I have to tell these people who I am?
This is a tense scene. Jesus just warned the disciples that one of
them will betray him. He’s about to go where they can’t follow (yet).
Things are about to get ugly. Thomas—the doubter—says, “Lord, we
do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” You
can hear his stress, his worry. Then Philip weighs in: “Show us the
Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus responds, “Have I been with
you all this time… and you still do not know me?” (vv. 5, 8, 9)
I used to read Jesus’s response as exasperation to the disciples’ questions of where they are going and who he is and what is next: “All this time, and you still don’t know? Seriously?” But today, I hear his calm, even soothing response. Which is remarkable, given his own worries; the previous chapter tells us Jesus was troubled in spirit (13:21). And yet, throughout this passage, he reassures the disciples, saying, I’ve been here all this time. Peace. Don’t be troubled. Don’t be afraid. The Father will send the Advocate. Things are going to be okay.
That Jesus juxtaposes the reminder that he is leaving soon with
this parting gift of peace and those instructions to be unafraid and
untroubled is so fundamentally important. It’s awfully hard to learn
or remember anything when our hair is on fire. As part of a daily
practice (struggle), I try to quiet my mind. Generally, I find a walk
outside in nature, with trees, breeze and other creatures offers me an
opportunity to remember, “My peace I give to you.”
And that reminds me, it’s time for a walk.
Jesus says, “My peace I give to you” (v. 27). How can we absorb those words today?
Christ, I don’t know the way. I can’t see you. Give me peace. Amen.