22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
25“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.
She twisted up her mouth to one side of her face and shook her head at me. She still did not understand. We were talking about God’s gracious love for sinners in class. She had come to the office because she was having a hard time with what I was saying. The long folds of her Muslim head covering shook every time she acknowledged that she had not gotten it. God’s love for good people, yes, she understood that. God’s love for people who tried, yes, she could grasp that too. But a gracious and unconditional love for everyone, even terrible people. She was not buying it.
I was reminded of these words. My own ability to make this clear to this young woman not really my fault. It was the fact that our human nature just does not operate in sync with God anymore. He doesn’t make sense to us. The operating principle of God’s kingdom, His relationship with His Son, and with us, is His gracious and eternal love – not power. He has power, don’t make that mistake of thinking about Him, but it is not that power which determines what He does. It is His love. Even on my best days, I cannot really understand that. I am too much of this world and too enmeshed in the power principle by which this world operates.
But Jesus has given me the Spirit of God. There are things I can understand, and certainly things I can thank God for which I do not really understand. I think there is always some old stinker of a sinner lurking in the background o my inner life, questioning if this love of God for me doesn’t have a catch, some fine print which will make it not such a good thing after all. I catch myself circumscribing the love of God, wanting to make it smaller and more reasonable to myself sometimes. But he always finds a way to smash that for me. Like the young woman in my office, I needed God to open my heart and mind to Himself. I still need it. Praise God for Pentecost!