Easter 6C

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This page is part of the Lectionary series within the Living with Jesus Now project.



Contents

Lectionary

  • Acts 16:9-15 and Psalm 67
  • Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5
  • John 14:23-29 or John 5:1-9



Introduction: Jesus and the Spirit

This week the Gospel texts take a marked turn towards the Spirit as the means by which the risen Lord is present in the community of faith. While the historicity of the words attributed to Jesus in John 14:23-29 is—at best—problematic, the underlying reality of the Spirit as the essential continuing religious experience for the early Christian movement seems to be well-grounded in history.

While the interpretation of this experience as the "Spirit of Jesus" lies necessarily in the realm of faith rather than history, the fact that early Christians understood themselves to be the community among whom Jesus continued to be present "in the Spirit" seems clear.



John: The Community of the Spirit

This week's notes will begin with the core Gospel text for Sunday, and its partial parallels in the Johannine farewell discourse and in the Synoptic tradition:

John 14:23-29

Gospel of John


Synoptic Gospels


John 14:23-25
Jesus answered him, "Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. 25I have said these things to you while I am still with you.
[no parallels] [no parallels]
John 14:26

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said

to you.
John 15:26

When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf.

John 16:7-15

Nevertheless I tell you the truth it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment 9about sin, because they do not believe in me; 10about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. 12"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
Mark 13:11

When they bring you to trial and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.

= Matt 10:19-20
When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; 20for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

= Luke 21:14-15

So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; 15for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.
John 14:27-29
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 28You heard me saying to you, 'I am going away, and I am coming to you.' If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe."
[no parallels] [no parallels]


These direct parallels to John 14:26 come from other parts of the Farewell Discourse as well as from the Synoptic tradition. They reveal a shared memory that understood Jesus as instructing his followers that the Spirit of God would give them courage and eloquence when they faced--as they would do--persecution for their faith. While Luke eliminates the explicit reference to the Spirit in favor of "wisdom," it seems he knows the same tradition.

It is a moot point whether the saying attributed to Jesus originated on the lips of Jesus before Easter, or came as a prophetic word "from the Lord" on the lips of some early Christian prophet. In either case, the instruction would have been received and treasured as a word of encouragement from the Master. The distinction between words of the historical Jesus and words of the risen Lord is mostly of interest only to historians.

We can place this saying in a wider context if we how consider how various key traditions within the NT dealt with the relationship of Jesus to the Spirit they experienced in their midst.


Apart from the passages already cited, we should note the following representative passages that deal with Jesus and the Spirit in GJohn:


Testimony of John the Baptist

1:33 I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.'


Jesus at Tabernacles

On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, 38and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, 'Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water.'" 39Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified. [John 7:37-39]


Easter Night

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." [Joihn 20:19:23]



Jesus and the Spirit in Paul

The following representative citations give a sense of how Paul understood the relationship between the shared experience of "the Spirit" and the post-easter reality of Jesus.


Galatians 4:3-7

So with us; while we were minors, we were enslaved to the elemental spirits of the world. 4But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. 6And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" 7So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.


1 Corinthians

... these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God's except the Spirit of God. 12Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. 13And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual. [1Cor 2:10-13]
Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says "Let Jesus be cursed!" and no one can say"Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit. 4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. 12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. [1Cor 12:3-13]
Thus it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living being"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 146But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. 47The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven. [1Cor 15:45-49]


2 Corinthians

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. [2Cor 3:17-18]


Philippians 1:18-20

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance. 20 It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way, but that by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death.


Romans 8:5-17

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law--indeed it cannot, 8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you. 12So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh--13for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" 16it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ--if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.



Jesus and the Spirit in Luke-Acts

Wait for the promise of the Father

You are witnesses of these things. 49And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." [Luke 24:48 -49]
While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. "This," he said, "is what you have heard from me; 5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." 6So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?" 7He replied, "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." [Acts 1:4-8]


Day of Pentecost

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o'clock in the morning. 16No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel 17'In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. 18Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. [Acts 2:14-18]
This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. 33Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear. [Acts 2:32-33]
Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him." [Acts 2:38-39]


Peter and Cornelius

While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. 45The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, 46for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, 47"Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" 48So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days. [Acts 10:44 -48]
And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. 16And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' 17If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?" [Acts 11:15-17]
After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, "My brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that I should be the one through whom the Gentiles would hear the message of the good news and become believers. 8And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; 9and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us. [Acts 15:7 -9]


Barnabas and Saul

Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the ruler, and Saul. 2While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." 3Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. 4So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia; and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John also to assist them. [Acts 13:1-5]


Disciples of John

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. 2He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?" They replied, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." 3Then he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They answered, "Into John's baptism." 4Paul said,"John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus." 5On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied-- 7altogether there were about twelve of them. [Acts 19:1-7]



Summary

The experience of being part of an alternative community -- that had been called into existence by God through Jesus and was sustained as a community by the ongoing presence of the Spirit -- lies at the very heart of Easter. The legends of the empty tomb and stories of individual encounters with the risen Jesus are secondary elements in that spiritual reality centered on the collective experience of the Spirit among them. In their own distinctive ways, the various NT texts gathered here express that same interpretation of Christian community as an ongoing experience of the risen Lord present in their midst as Spirit.

Perhaps Paul might have the final word on this occasion:

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. [2Cor 3:17-18]



Jesus Database





Liturgies and Prayers

For liturgies and sermons each week, shaped by a progressive theology, check Rex Hunt's web site

Other recommended sites include:



Music Suggestions

See David MacGregor's Together to Celebrate site for recommendations from a variety of contemporary genre.


Other suggestions:

  • For the beauty of the earth - AHB 77
  • A New commandment - AHB 571
  • Happy the home that welcome you - AHB 495
  • Now let us from this table rise - AHB 450
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