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Jesus' Words after...

Jesus' Words after the Last Supper: Chapter 2


Jesus' Last Talk at Table

I will start my study of each and every talk by breaking them into short sections, often just a verse long, while always respecting the order of their appearance in the text. I will go back to the original Greek when I feel the need to do so. I will comment and try to make sense of every sentence within the context in which it is found, as I believe that no excerpt can be understood properly if taken out of context. I will try to paraphrase every sentence whenever I feel the need to do so. In fact I will, at the end of each discourse, provide a complete paraphrase of it, trying that way to provide a personal version faithful to the original.

I will be as honest as I possibly can be. I will admit my difficulties when baffled by a text. And I will try to find a way to make sense of it. I will not take for granted anything but the original text, working on it until I come up with what I consider to be an acceptable translation, acceptable in the sense that the meaning I have come up with fits properly within the text as a whole and within the Gospel taken as a whole.

A. The Introduction: «Glorification»

Right from the start, I must admit that I cannot make sense of Jesus' introduction to His first talk as it is translated in the King James Version:1

Therefore, when he [Judas] was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.2

I take for granted that Jesus is referring to Himself as the «Son of Man», something He has done consistently in this Gospel. In fact, it cannot possibly refer to anyone else in the context of this Gospel.

This statement about «glorification» has the following logical structure:

  1. The «Son of Man», Jesus, is «glorified» now.
  2. His «glorification» causes God to be «glorified».
  3. Because of this «glorification» of God through Jesus',
  4. God Himself will «glorify» Jesus, and this, right now.

The Oxford Dictionary states that «glorify» means «make glorious», «exalt to the glory of heaven» where «glory» means «exalted renown», «honourable fame», «special distinction», «subject for boasting» and so on. A paraphrase based on this definition would be something like: «I am now going to become a subject of boasting; My exalted fame will give God a special distinction in the eyes of humans. Because of this exalted renown I will give God, He will immediately make Me a subject of boasting.»3 I must say that I do not find this at all clear! So perhaps it would be useful to go back to the original Greek text and see if there is another possible translation for the term «glorify».

The Greek verb translated by «is glorified» in the first verse of this segment is «edoksasthè» (εδοξασθη), the passive (aorist) form of the verb «doksazô» (δοξαζω). In its active form, its first meaning is «have an opinion», «believe», «think», «judge». In its passive form, it would thus mean: «to be known as», «to be thought of as», «to be judged as», «to be believed to be». The problem then becomes «to be known as» what? This is not expressed in the sentences where these words appear. Part of the idea behind the normal understanding of «glory» is «fame»: a public understanding of someone or something.

Jesus saying about «glorification» would have the following translation:

  1. The coming events will permit people to make a judgment on Him.
  2. This judgment on Him will affect people's judgment on God.
  3. This will cause God to Himself make a judgment on Jesus
  4. which will follow there and then.

I think we could all agree on the fact that any judgment, opinion, belief of God on Jesus must be a correct and truthful one. So, surely, there must be in the use of this term here the idea that the judgment that will be made is a correct and truthful one. If this is the case, the most reasonable translation would be «to be known correctly», «to be judged correctly». This sort of fame has to do with accuracy, correct knowledge.

So our segment could be translated quite differently as: «It is now that I am really going to be known for Who I am, and Me being really known will mean that God will also be really known for Who He Is; furthermore, as God will be really known in Me, He will make sure that His knowledge of Me is proclaimed right away.»

From this, I understand Jesus to be saying that the coming events, His handling of the ordeal to come, His passion and death, which His disciples will be witnesses to, are going to clearly define Who He Is and thus Who God Is. God will vouch for this affirmation of Who He Is through Jesus' actions by His own corroboration that He Is indeed like Jesus says. This corroboration of God will be Him raising Jesus from the dead, Him bringing Jesus back to life, another event which the disciples will witness.

This interpretation seems to make sense since Jesus earlier in this Gospel made it clear that His «glorification» was related to His death, as He mentions it immediately after.4

This last interpretation of the text makes it a fitting introduction to Jesus' first talk as it contains its major theme in a nutshell.

B. Jesus' farewell

Jesus then gives to His disciples His farewell message: «Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.».5 After what can be described as a term of endearment applied to His disciples, Jesus tells them that He is leaving them for somewhere they cannot go, as He had told them and others many times before. They will look for Him and will be unable to find Him. He neither tells them where He is going or why they cannot go with Him (probably as He assumes that they had already worked it out by what He had said on previous occasions).

He then goes on to say: «A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.».6 This is His last will and testament, His «new commandment»: love one another like He loves them.

The Greek word translated by «commandment», «entolèn» (εντολην), could be translated by «order», «instruction»: Jesus is really giving His disciples their marching orders! This order is «new» as it is His last, final one. The Greek verb translated by «love», «agapate» (αγαπατε), could also be translated as «show friendship», «treat with affection». It implies looking at the other as an equal, as a fellow human; not as a thing, a tool, an instrument to be used and abused. It refers to a concrete way of looking at the other, not just an emotion. They are to look after each other just like Jesus looked after them.

He then adds that this must be their «trademark», the way for others to identify them as His disciples: «By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.».7 So this «of Jesus» friendship is an absolute «must» for His disciples: without it, they just are not «of Jesus».

Jesus is then (not at all surprisingly!) interrupted by Peter, who is still mulling Jesus telling him He is going away and leaving him behind: 8«Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.»9 Jesus reiterates that Peter cannot follow Him just now, but adds this time that he will definitely do so later.

This still does not sit well with Peter, always very impetuous:10 «Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.»11 Peter claims he is ready to die for Jesus! This Jesus rebutts by foretelling his three denials of Him that same night: «Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.»12 13

C. Jesus' reassurance about His disciples joining Him later

There is no doubt that all the disciples were sadden by Jesus' farewell: they did not want Him to leave them! They could not understand why He would, after all this time. They counted on His presence: He was the center of their lives; they could not think of life without Him.

He thus has to reassure them. He starts: «Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.»14 He asks them to trust Him just like they trust God. This trust is needed for them to accept what Jesus is going to say to them next.

He follows by: «In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.»15 So Jesus is not just going away; He is going ahead of them, to prepare things for when they will join Him. Jesus points out that where He is going and where they will follow Him later is where His Father lives: His House. He is just going to prepare their rooms for their future stay with Him and His Father.

He then adds: «And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.»16 Not only is Jesus going now to prepare their rooms, He will come back to take them to His Father's «place» so that they can all live together again.

He assumes that His message is understood; so He adds in conclusion: «And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.»17 After all, He just told them He was going to prepare them a place in His Father's house! Where does He live, His Father? Why has He called Him «Father in Heaven» all these years? And He just told them He would come and pick them up as well. So why should they not already know that Jesus will lead them by the hand along the way there?

The reason the disciples cannot follow Him now is because they will not die now as dying is the only way to the Father. He has to go to prepare Heaven for them. Which perhaps could mean among other things showing them how to live to reach Heaven.

To me, there is a break in Jesus' talk at this point. He lets things sink in before moving ahead, He takes a time out to make sure that what happened with Peter's question does not happen again.

D. Jesus spells out His rôle and that of His disciples

This is just as well as His disciples are still in the dark. So «Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?»18 Thomas does not understand where Jesus can possibly be going, nor the way He will get there. Jesus tries again: «Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.»19

There is a lot packed in this short sentence! Our poor Thomas got more than he can cope with! The first part, «I am the way», could refer to Jesus' coming to pick them up. But what about the truth and the life? How make sense of this and what He adds?

Jesus started His talk by pointing out that the way He was going to live the next day is crucial to understand Who He Is and so Who God His Father Is. He now clearly states that the only way to get to the Father is by following His example as He is the One Who tells the Truth about Who God Is, He is the One Who lives life the way His Father meant it to be lived. This statement is of the greatest importance: those who do not live their lives like He does cannot come to the Father. This is why He insists on the fact that they have to love each other, be of service to each other, put others first. Only then will they be able to be in God.

Jesus follows this first statement in response to Thomas' question by another which basically makes the equivalence between the Father and Himself, His Revelation: «If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.»20 Jesus states that knowledge of Him is the same as knowledge of His Father, as He is His Father's Manifestation on earth. Then He adds that it is from now on that His disciples will know Him, will understand what makes Him click, Who He is, because it is in His passion and death that He reveals both Himself and His Father.

But of course, His apostles are still lost (which is quite useful to us, as it means the same point is somewhat clarified each time it is reiterated in a different fashion): «Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.»21 Philip still thinks that the Father can be «materialized» just like Jesus and he are! This is where his difficulty lies; for him, the Father, to be real, has to be visible. He cannot think of Jesus as the visage of His Father.

So Jesus has to make just this point:

Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.22

Jesus has to reaffirm that He is the Father's Incarnation, that He is His Father's Instrument and Mouthpiece. And He argues that this statement of His is proven by the miraculous works He has done, works that no human can do by herself. He could not have performed these miracles without God working through Him as He, by Himself, cannot. It is only because Jesus is perfectly representing His Father and His Father perfectly «controls» Him that these miracles can be.23

Jesus has thus answered Philip. But as He has brought up the fact that He has done great acts of service to others because of His identification with His Father, He goes on to tell His disciples that they too will do the same if they act like Him, in accordance to His ways, living like Him: «Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.»24 He tells them that these works of service that He has being doing, they will also do if they trust Him; in fact, they will do even greater works of service than He did. And why? Because He is going to His Father.

Why will Jesus going to His Father have such an effect? Why will it mean that His disciples will be able to do more than Jesus was able to achieve in His earthly lifetime? But first, is this true? Did they actually achieve more than He did?

The answer is yes. While He opened the way to them, they built on the foundation that are His life and words and managed to convert many to His way of life, to His vision of why we exist. Up until that night Jesus had only managed to put together a small group of clueless individuals. Within a few weeks, these will have created a solid core of many new enthousiastic followers, ready to put their life on the line for Jesus' vision.

Why should Jesus' going to His Father have such a profound effect? First, because of the way He is going to His Father: His passion and terrible death, where He shows a complete trust in His Father's ways as well as patience, humility, a complete lack of violence, a total readiness to forgive, to excuse. Second, because God Father shows that death is not the end of it all: life continues. In fact, it not only continues, it is brought to a new, higher level in the extraordinary bodily transformation that is the resurrection from the dead as the risen are more real, more alive than they were before death.

Jesus' resurrection proves beyond a shadow of a doubt the truthfulness of His message, of His life, of His love. It proves that He is the Embodiment of His Father, that God is perfectly with Him, in Him. And this experimental proof that Jesus is now more fully alive as a body than ever before, a proof that Thomas will double-check by putting his hand in Jesus' wounds, gives them the courage to go ahead and do greater things.

Jesus was an obscure preacher in an insignificant backwater of the Roman Realm. One generation later, His message will be preached all over that Empire, bringing about thousands of people ready to follow Him to the Father to become more alive than they ever were, and who will know for themselves the fact that Jesus is indeed Who He said He Is, and that God is indeed Who Jesus said He Is.

E. Asking in Jesus' name

After telling His disciples that they will do even greater works than Him because He is going to His Father, Jesus makes a promise: «And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.»25

Jesus repeats Himself to stress His commitment to His promise. Twice He promises that He will grant His disciples anything that they ask in His name. And once He adds that this is to «glorify» His Father in Him.

Now, what does it mean, to ask «in Jesus' name»? This is a formula often used by Christians when begging God for something or other. But is it used correctly?

The following formula is used in my country, the Kingdom of Canada: «In the name of our Sovereign Lady, Queen Elisabeth...». She who utters these words does so on the orders of the Queen of Canada, according to her laws and regulations and within the powers vested in her by Her Canadian Majesty.

There are at least three persons involved in this example: the Sovereign who delegated to a chosen representative some powers to act in a specific way, the representative to whom these powers have been delegated under a specific policy, and the individual harangued by the Sovereign's representative.

This last individual can herself be a Sovereign: the Queen of the Netherlands, for instance, receiving the credentials of the ambassador of the Queen of Canada. So the disciple would be acting here as Jesus' ambassador, asking things in accordance with her Sovereign's (Jesus') policies and orders.

This means that the disciple cannot ask just anything she feels like in Jesus' name; no, only things which are in accordance with Jesus' plan, His program for her.

Furthermore, Jesus is adamant that He is the One to Whom the request is made, He is the One Who actually has the power to grant it. He did not say that everything that the disciple asks in His name will be granted by God His Father but by Him, God the Son. To come back to our example, He is not only the One Who gave His disciple Her orders but the One Who will see that what she asks according to His policies will be granted. And He says that He will so act to «glorify» His Father, to make Him known for Who He really Is.

Jesus follows the text we have just looked at by: «If ye love me, keep my commandments.»26 which can be read to say: «If you love me, you will do what I ask of you», which - in Jesus' case - is to be like Me. Jesus goes back on His first point about His commandment of Love, about the sign of discipleship. Jesus will grant His disciple's prayers if she asks Him to make her more able to fulfill His command.

Jesus will provide anything that the disciple asks of Him as long as it is to bring to perfection the mission He has given her. And the reason He will is that this mission, clearly given by Jesus, proclaims Who God Father Is as it is manifested by the love the disciples share, a love that copies Jesus' love.

F. The rôle of the «Breath Advocate»

It must be quite clear that there is nothing that Jesus wants more from His disciples than that they live like Him. But this requires a lot of strength and stamina. So Jesus adds: «And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;»27

Jesus was the One granting prayers a minute ago; now He is the One who prays. The Greek word translated by «I will pray» is «erôtèsô» (ερωτησω). This verb means either «ask a question» or «ask for something», which of course can then be translated as «petition».

What Jesus asks from God Father is another «Comforter» for His disciples. The Greek word so translated is «paraclèton» (παρακλητον), which means «whom one calls for help», «advocate for the defense», «intercessor».

So it is obvious that Jesus sees Himself as a «helper», an «advocate for the defense» as He will ask His Father to send His disciples a Helper as His replacement. This Replacement will be sent by God Father just as Jesus was sent by God Father. Why? Because it is God as Father, as the One Who cares for His children, as the One Who looks after His children, Who sends them a new Helper to replace Jesus. And this Helper will always stay with them.

Jesus describes this Helper: «Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.»28

There is an awful lot of information packed in this one verse! But what are we to make of it? How can we make real sense of this rich sentence?

The Greek word translated by «Spirit» is «pneuma» (πνευμα) which means «blow», «puff», «wind», «breath», «breath of life». So this «Helper» is a «breath»! and a «breath of truth»! What does this mean?

But there is more: this «breath of truth» is not available to the «world» as it can neither see nor know it! What is the «world»? This word is the translation of the Greek word «cosmos» (κοσμος) which means «order», «good order», «in good order», «order of the universe», «world», «universe». This word then, refers to the social, economic, political and physical order of the world we live in. A much better translation would be «world order» as the concept of good and proper organization is paramount to the term. This world order, described in social, political, economic and physical terms, is subject to internal «laws» which provide it with order against chaos.

The Greek verb translated by «see» is «theôrei» (θεωρει) which means «observe», «examine», «contemplate», «inspect», «make sense of». The Greek verb translated by «know» is «ginôskei» (γινωσκει) which means «learn to know», «understand». So Jesus is saying that this world order cannot make sense of this «breath»; that this world order cannot grasp it as it is totally foreign to it, so foreign that this «breath» is, to all intent, invisible to it!

This «breath», incompatible with the world order, has to do with the truth. So Jesus claims that Truth and this world order are incompatible. On the one hand, this «breath of life» which speaks the Truth cannot be understood by this world order; on the other hand, it is understood by Jesus' disciples, for it is in them: they actually breathe it if they live according to Jesus, loving instead of judging, refusing to fight, refusing to hate, refusing to demand retribution, punishment, justice but breathing love towards all, friends and foes alike.

This «breath» is internal to those who live according to Jesus; it is a strength that they have inside them; it is what keeps them going, it is what drives them. It is something real, experienced as coming from God by those who actually live by it.29 While Jesus is Someone Who is experienced as outside the self, the «Breath of life» is Someone Who is experienced inside our body, ourselves, just like our breath comes from inside our body, ourselves.

G. Jesus promise to return soon

Jesus then moves on to a different stage of His talk. He goes on with: «I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.»30 This translation seems wrong to me as the Greek word translated by «leave», «aphèsô» (αφησω), actually means «let go», «hurl», «throw» and the one translated by «comfortless», «orphanous» (ορφανοος), means «without father or mother», «orphan». So what Jesus is saying to His disciples is: «I will not send you on your way as orphans.» Why? Because He will come to them.

This is bizarre! What does this sentence mean, that Jesus would be sending His disciples orphans, without a father? Before we try to make sense of this, let us examine the next two verses, which might shed some light on this problem.

We first have: «Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.»31 Jesus first says that this world order will never see Him again. This can easily be understood as He will then be dead and buried. He adds that His disciples will see Him again soon while others will not. This implies that He will show Himself alive though dead only to them. This of course is what happened after His resurrection: He showed Himself to be really and truly alive to His disciples but not to others.

He then goes on to say that His disciples will live because He will live. This again is true because His disciples' lives will be changed completely by the fact that He will be well and truly alive again. This will become the determinant factor in their lives.

He follows that with: «At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.»32 He says that the disciples' knowledge that Jesus is well and truly alive while being dead will prove to them that He did tell the truth about His Father; that He and His Father are indeed one, and so they are with Him.

Now can we make sense of Jesus' statement about not sending His disciples orphans? We do know that He told them that God is their Father just like God is His Father. So His statement could be read as Jesus not sending them without them knowing for a fact that God is their Father.

Jesus' message is based on God being Father, One Who cares, Who loves, Who is of service to His humans. Because He is so, there is no point worrying about anything: what others do to us does not matter in the end as God Father will take us to Himself. This earthly life is not the end, just a beginning. What comes next is a life more real, more complete, a life in the presence of God Father.

A way to show that God is indeed Father is by Jesus being raised from the dead. His reappearance after His death as a real, complete human being is the proof that the disciples are not without a God Who is their Father, and so that they are not orphans.

And it is with this proof as the basis of their lives that He is sending them on their mission of proclaiming His message about God Father and His love and service for all and sundry, message that He is sending them to live by their love for each other. Indeed, their proclamation is first and foremost one of putting into practice this love rather than just talking about it.

H. Loving Jesus means living like He said we should

Jesus now clearly states that He demands deeds, not words. He tells His disciples to live according to His orders: «He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.»33 For Jesus, love is something active, concrete. To love Him is to act like Him, to follow His directives. And the one who so acts, being Jesus-like, will be loved both by God Father and by Jesus. Indeed, Jesus will even manifest Himself, show Himself to her. Because of her love for Jesus, she is immediately loved both by God Father and by Jesus, Who will then be present to her in a very concrete way.34

This is followed by the fourth and last question, this one by Judas: «Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?»35 Jesus' answer to this question is very informative: «Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.»36 For God and Jesus to be «seen», «sensed», «experienced», the disciple must first love Jesus, live according to His words. Then both Jesus and His Father will love her and live in her. We could say that as Jesus' way of life becomes internalized in the disciple, she becomes a «temple» in which God as Father and as Jesus lives. And she who has become such a «temple» will know for a fact that God Father is within her, and so God the Word.37

Jesus now comes back to what He considers the most important: loving Him means loving God and living as He wants us to: «He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.»38 Not keeping His precepts is tantamount to not loving Him, nor God His Father, as He only said what His Father wanted Him to say. Again, nothing is more important than to live according to His words. In fact, nothing else is important.

He then goes on to say: «These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.»39 He states that He became a human to show them how to live correctly, truthfully, both in words and deeds. I would go as far as saying that this is the only reason He became a human as I believe that «to be saved» actually means living our life as He lived His. And this He showed to its fullest on Good Friday.

I. Another rôle of the «Breath»: Peace-giver

Jesus is now going to His death and so He will not be there anymore to give support and guidance to His disciples. They will need to take over, to be in charge. As He knows that His disciples will need a Helper to fulfil their new rôle, He adds: «But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.»40

Jesus gives a new name to His disciples' new Helper, Whom He had called «Spirit of truth» previously: «Holy Ghost». The Greek word translated here by «Ghost» is «pneuma» (πνεομα), the same one we saw would be better translated by «breath» and the one translated by «holy» is «agion» (αγιον). Its translations are «holy», «sacred», «august». When it comes to «breath», the term «august» seems to me to make the most sense: it is the quality of a breath that is deep and slow, measured, controlled. The breath of someone who is serene, confident and unafraid. It is the breath of someone who is not bilious, angry, raging, full of trepidations or anxieties or imprecations.

Without breath, a human dies; so breath is absolutely necessary to life. But breath is more than that as the type of breath indicates the kind of person the human is. An august breath implies someone serene, someone who is in control, someone who can figure out with assurance what to do.

This «August Breath», Who was referred to earlier as the «Breath of Truth», gives the disciples the assurance that God loves them, looks after them, sees to their needs, gives them what they need to do the mission Jesus is sending them on. This peaceful «Breath» reminds them all what Jesus said as they begin living His message. A message is, after all, only understood when it is interiorized, and this is what this «Breath» does: it makes Jesus message alive inside His disciples.

Jesus goes on to elaborate: «Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.»41 Jesus' peace is not like the world's, He says. Why is that? His peace is based on Love while the world's peace is based on Force, Violence.42 Jesus' peace permits His disciples' hearts to be untroubled, as they are unafraid, as this peace is this «August Breath», this confidence in God Father.

J. Jesus' closing comments

Jesus proceeds to a kind of recapitulation. He starts with: «Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.»43 This starts as a straightforward recapitulation of something already said: He is going (to death) and will come back (alive from death). He always uses the expression «going to the Father» to mean «going to death» as this is the only way to go to Him. Then He slips in a new message: the disciples should rejoice for Jesus that He goes back to His Father as His Father is greater than Him!

I can understand that the disciples should be happy for Jesus that He goes to meet God Father, just like people should be happy when we die to meet God Father. What could be construed as odd is that «my Father is greater than I». Jesus, Who said that He and His Father are one, now says that the Father is greater than Him! Perhaps, but He also said that He gets His marching orders from God Father, that He is God Father's Mouthpiece, acting by Him. So God Father is greater than Jesus. Being one does not mean being the same, equal.

Jesus then adds: «And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.»44 He tells them that things will happen just as He said they would. This prescience will be a further proof to His disciples that He is of God.

He then adds something which I find odd: «Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.»45 The first part of the sentence is clear: He has very little time left in this life, and will not spend most of it with them, but being interrogated, tortured, hanged to die on a cross. But He then mentions why: the coming of the «prince of this world» who «has nothing over me».

The Greek word translated as «prince» is «archôn» (αρχων): it means «leader», «king». The related verb «archô» (αρχω) means «be first», «lead», «guide», «start». So it refers to the one who leads the world, who gives it its orders. This leader has nothing on Jesus and so is totally different from Him. What is going to follow is a clash of «civilizations», of world views, of living.

On the one hand, this world order, on the other, Jesus. On the one hand, a world of violence, on the other, a world of love. And this clash is exactly what will happen: Jesus will be tortured and killed by Roman soldiers on the order of the Roman Proconsul of Judea, representating the sole superpower of the time, the Roman Republic. Jesus will not fight back, complain, rage against this injustice, nor utter a word in His defense. He will only forgive and show His love to all who want it, like the murderer crucified next to Him who begs Him to be with Him in Paradise.

Then He follows up with His last statement of this talk: «But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.»46 He finishes by stating that the actions He is going to do over the next day will be in accordance with His Father's instructions as loving His Father means following His will. So Jesus' actions will prove to this world order that He truly loves His Father.

How is that? Jesus has preached day in, day out, that His Father is a God of Love and Service and not a God of Violence. He will now practice what He has been preaching: forgiving rather than fighting back, loving rather than hating, giving rather than grasping, letting go of life rather than self-defense. He preached to believe in God's love comes what may: He will now live this to the full. So the representatives of this world order, Pilate the Proconsul, the Chief Priests, the Centurion at Calvary, all will be able to see for themselves that He is true to His words, that He really lives His Father's message.

We can see in this first talk a progression of ideas with a back movement due to the disciples' questions. We can also see in it a thematic unity. Everything fits well in its place.

K. The Beaulieu Revised Version!

I will now try to put this first talk in my own words. Of course, this is somewhat presumptuous. But there is nothing like trying to paraphrase a text to see if one really understand it. So here is my «version». I sincerely hope that it does fully convey the message found in the actual Greek text. The one liberty I will take consists in omitting the disciples' questions from Jesus' talk.

«What is going to happen to Me in the next few hours will tell you exactly and truthfully Who I am and Who God Father Is. My reaction to what is to come will tell you exactly how you must live your life as it is the only way you can come to God Father.

You should already know that I am representing God Father because of the various works and miracles God Father has done through Me: I could not have done them on My own.

I am going to die soon as this is the way to God Father. On the other hand, you must live. Only later will you die, when I come to fetch you to bring you to God Father. In the meantime, you have to represent God Father, and act like Me, doing great works and miracles. You have to strive to be like Me, to follow My instructions, so that God Father is known for Who He Is. I want you to love each other just like I love you. This is to be the criterion to identify you as My disciples.

You will need help. I will see that God Father sends you a new Helper, a Truthful Breath that will act within you, that you will experience while He is invisible to this world order.

I will also clearly show you that though dead, I am alive. You will then clearly see that God Father is in Me just like I am in Him and that I tell you the truth about God Father.

I want to make one point perfectly clear: loving Me means following My instructions, which really are God Father's. The Truthful Breath that God Father will give you will remind you of all I said, and, as August Breath, will give you the kind of peace that only God as Father can give you.

The kind of peace this world order gives is no peace at all, as it requires you to be constantly on your guard, ready to threaten violence. My peace, based on trust in God Father, casts away all anxiety as you are not to protect yourselves but only trust in God Father.

I am telling you all this in advance so that you can check later that I was telling you the truth and that I indeed knew what was to come. In this clash between this world order and Me, between two world views that have absolutely nothing in common, you must clearly show by your love that you are on My side, the side of God Father.»

1 Again, Jesus' words will be in red throughout as is often found in Protestant Bibles; all biblical quotes are from the King James Bible recognized by Protestants as the Bible in English.

2 John 13:31b-32

3 My paraphrases of Jesus' words will be in purple throughout.

4 «And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.» (John 12:23-24)

5 John 12:33

6 John 13:34

7 John 13:35

8 It is interesting to note the delay between the question and the point at issue as it took some time for it to «sink in». Jesus had moved on in what He wanted to say. Peter' question thus brings Him back to a point He had made previously. This often happens in the real world.

9 John 13:36

10 Notice that there is no delay here as Peter did not need any time to react on this occasion.

11 John 13:37

12 John 13:38

13 Jesus' answer must have hurt Peter: it shut him up for the rest of the evening!

14 John 14:1

15 John 14:2

16 John 14:3

17 John 14:4

18 John 14:5

19 John 14:6

20 John 14:7

21 John 14:8

22 John 14:9-11

23 We see here that for Jesus «theology» is an experimental science: it is based on facts, events; in this case, on the fact that He did miracles for all to see. Jesus also clearly states that «miracles» are events which cannot happen according to the Laws of Nature: God has to overrule those Laws for miracles to happen. The Laws of Nature do not apply some of the time or most of the time but all of the time. All the events which do not conform to them must be due to a direct action of God where He acts outside these Laws. Water left alone in a container never becomes wine: this is absolutely impossible according to the Laws of Nature. It can happen only if God violate these Laws.

24 John 14:12

25 John 14:13-14

26 John 14:15

27 John 14:16

28 John 14:17

29 Again, God is experienced by the disciple as real and distinct from her. Theology is thus even today an experimental science, as God is experienced today by those who seek Him. Theology is more than an experimental historical science, as after all, Jesus' life and death happened in history and are not as such experienced now. Jesus is not actually reliving His earthly life now: He is well and truly dead! He lived in history and was experienced then only by a small number of people. But the dead Jesus can be experienced today as He, dead, lives for ever in His Father.

Of course, God cannot be «experienced» by those who refuse on principle to recognize His possible existence just like the positive electron (positron) could not be «discovered» until its possible existence could be contemplated by the researcher. In that case, the thorough analysis by Anderson of a single trace left by that particle on a photographic emulsion could only be made sense of by the assumption of its existence. But as soon as this analysis was published, those who now accepted its existence were able to make sense of hundreds of other traces of that particle that had been already collected over the last years, traces that were until then simply treated as either unimportant or baffling. Which shows that what is considered impossible cannot be experimentally found, but only what is considered to be possible. Furthermore, it can be found only by those who are ready to invest time and effort in investigating it.

To come back to God, those who do not care about His existence or Jesus' message for example, will not be ready to spend any time or effort to find out if He Is, and if so, if He Is as Jesus said He Is.

30 John 14:18

31 John 14:19

32 John 14:20

33 John 14:21

34 Again, Jesus makes it clear that theology is an experimental science.

35 John 14:22

36 John 14:23

37 This is yet another clear statement by Jesus that theology is an experimental science.

38 John 14:24

39 John 14:25

40 John 14:26

41 John 14:27

42 «Si vis pacem, para bellum.» (If you want peace, prepare war.) Roman author unknown.

43 John 14:28

44 John 14:29

45 John 14:30

46 John 14:31

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Solemnity of the Epiphany of Our Lord, January 6th, 2008

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