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Jesus' Words after...

Jesus' Words after the Last Supper: Chapter 3


Jesus' Talk on the Walk

According to the Gospel's author, Jesus gave His first talk before leaving the room where He had just eaten with His disciples. This implies that He gave His second «talk» after leaving that room, while on His way with them. This would explain that talk's different format. One can even assume that Jesus would have stopped a few times on the way to talk again to His disciples, before getting to the brook Cedron.

This second talk seems to have been an offshoot of a new parable by Jesus. As this parable is about a vine, it could have come to Jesus' mind as He was walking with His disciples on their way to the garden where they were all to meet Judas. As it was the full moon, or close enough to it, the moonlight permitted them to see quite well in the night. So one can picture Jesus talking while walking, stopping to make a point, walking some more. This fits rather well with the loose structure of this text.

After all, we have no reason to believe that they all walked silently to meet Judas. On the contrary, Jesus' realization that He had very little time left with His disciples would have prompted Him to speak.

This talk is definitely not a mere repetition of the previous one. The disciples' rôle is put in more active terms while Jesus' is put in more passive ones. Furthermore, the style is totally different, with the introductory parable giving it a completely new color.

A. The parable of the vine

Jesus' second Maundy Thursday talk starts with a beautiful parable, where He compares Himself to a vine and God Father to the farmer: «I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.»1 I would rather translate this as «I am truly a vine and my Father is its farmer.»

In this we see God Father in an active rôle while Jesus is in a somewhat passive one. Not that a vine is totally inactive, but its farmer lords over it as he can decide to cut it down, or prune it in any way he so chooses. He goes on: «Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.»2 We see the farmer working to maximize his vine's grape output. So Jesus says He Himself is like a vine. His Father cuts off the branches that have no grapes and those that do, He prunes to make them produce even more. Jesus, just like everyone else, has to produce as much fruit as possible.

Jesus then goes on to say something that I find rather strange and out of place just here: «Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.»3 Here, Jesus brings His disciples into the picture. But what is this all about? The Greek word translated by «clean», «katharoi» (καθαροι), means «without blemish», «spotless», «unadulterated», «clean», «pure». But what has being «without blemish» got to do with the vine? How can Jesus' words make His disciples «spotless»? What does this means? Why is it just there?

I do not know much about vines, being born and bred in a city. But I have heard that vines can suffer from rot which attacks their branches and makes them incapable of producing fruit. This rot, which changes the nature of the branch from what it should be, shows itself as a blemish on the branch's surface. So it is likely that this is what Jesus has in mind here. If this is the case, the branches of the vine that must be without blemish are His disciples. After all, they are the ones that must be so.

This interpretation seems to be correct as Jesus then proceeds with: «Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.»4 The Greek word translated as «abide» is «mainate» (μαινατε). It means «stay», «stay put», «stay with», «stay the same». We could thus translate the first sentence as: «Stay with Me and I will stay in you.»

Jesus then proceeds to explain that His disciples are His branches and that, as vine branches, their job is to produce grapes, something they cannot at all do if they are not part of the vine. So His disciples cannot bear fruit without Him (nor, for that matter, can He without them).

He then reinforces this message, which shows how important it is to Him that His disciples understand it clearly: «I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.»5 Again, He makes clear the symbiotic relation between Him and His disciples. Together they form one body, one organism: a vine.

Perhaps it is worth pointing out that the branches are not the vine but only parts of the vine. It is by its roots and its leaves that the vine as a whole nourishes the grapes that grow on its branches. The vine is one, but has many parts and many branches. Only the vine's branches that are alive and well bear its fruit.

This is why He adds: «If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.»6 The only way a branch can stay alive is by staying part of the vine; otherwise it falls off the vine where it withers and dies and ends up burnt. Let me remark here that Jesus is clearly stating that any human who is not part of Him withers and dies as only He can keep them alive. Only by living His message, by being like Him, can she really stay alive.

Now this is quite a statement! It means that anyone who is not a good Christian dies. This is true... but what does it mean to be a good Christian? It means to live like Jesus did, to follow His precept of love for all; it means to bless and not to curse; it means to forgive and not to hit back; it means to love and not to hate; to be of help, of service rather than to lord over. This, after all, is Jesus' message in a nutshell.

Jesus now moves on to say: «If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.»7 We have a rather strange promise which requires two conditions, one of which having to do with His words staying in His disciples. What is this all about?

Jesus spoke earlier about His words making His disciples «spotless», «unadulterated». Could it be that His words are the sap that gives life to the branches and makes them pure, genuine vine branches? That certainly could explain why the branches that are not being fed by His words would be cut off from Him as the Vine. It would also explain how it is that staying in Jesus requires being «fed» by His words.

If the disciple is fed by Jesus' words, if she lives as His branch bearing His fruit, she can ask anything she wants: it necessarily will be what Jesus wants and so will come to pass. Again we have the same idea as in the previous talk: asking anything that is in accord with Jesus' plan is going to happen. But let us be more precise: anything that is asked about herself, as it is going to «be done to you». The disciple is to ask to be bearing more fruit, to be more and more what she is meant to be.

This Jesus makes clear by this parable's ultimate sentence: «Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.»8 Here the translation is slightly wrong as the Greek text does not say «so» but «and». A better translation would be: «Bearing more fruit and being My disciples show My Father to be Who He really is.» In fact, one could say that «bearing much fruit» is «being My disciple»: Jesus wants results. Being His disciple requires a behaviour truly different from that of a disciple of this «world order».

B. Your fruit is your love

Jesus seems to leave His parable as He starts on the subject of love. He first states: «As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.»9 It is interesting to note that Jesus loves His disciples just like God Father loves Him. In a way, one could say that it is God Father Who taught Jesus how to love (a statement not totally ludicrous, as He is God Father's Son and children learn from their parents).

But what is this about remaining in Jesus' love? The Greek word translated by «continue» is in fact the one He was using just previously about the vine's branches. So we can see that this section is really based on the parable just examined. Remaining in Jesus' love is like remaining His branch, and so continuing to be fed by His instructions.

He explains more fully: «If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.»10 To continue, remain in Jesus' love, the disciple must keep Jesus' orders, just like Jesus had to keep God Father's orders to continue, remain in His love. Now there is something rather strange about this statement.

Indeed, either God Father's love is unconditional, or it is not. Either He loves each and every human whatever, or He does not. Jesus elsewhere stated that God Father makes His sun shine on good and evil humans equally. This statement seems to contradict the former.

Perhaps we need the previous parable to understand how to reconcile both texts. God Father makes His sun shine on His vine. He also prunes His vine to make it give more fruit. He helps it, He is of service to it; He loves it, He tends to it with care. He provides this help to every branch of His vine; but He cannot in practice look after the branches that have fallen off His vine as they are dead. He did not wish them to die; on the contrary, He wanted to look after them just like His sun is still shining on them, but to no avail. His love is thwarted by the branches which have cut themselves off from His vine.

For a branch to cut itself from the vine, it has to refuse to receive its sap. Without this sap it cannot remain a vine branch: it becomes a dead branch. This sap is what permits the branch to be what God Father wants it to be: a fully grown vine branch. This same sap flows from the vine (Jesus) to its branches (His disciples) and so becomes what God Father wants each one of Jesus' branches to be.

So it seems that we have a way to reconcile both statements. God Father wants all of us to be fully ourselves, but we cannot do that without living according to Jesus' teaching and example. We can decide not to follow His ways, to cut ourselves from Him and from God Father: He does not cease to love us, but His love is now totally futile, as we are now basically dead: we are of this world order, an order of violence and death.

Jesus follows with: «These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.»11 What has joy to do with what He has just said? Jesus wants His joy to remain in His disciples and He wants His disciples' joy to be complete. He says that what He has just said to them should have that effect. And what He has just said had to do with His Father's love for Him, His love for them, and their love for each other and for Him. Love brings about joy. Complete love brings complete joy.

Jesus now reiterates a sentence that He basically said in His first talk: «This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.»12 Again, the disciples must copy Jesus' love in their love for each other. They have to act like Him. He immediately adds: «Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.»13 This statement certainly was meant by Jesus to refer (among other cases) to what He Himself would live in the next few hours. But does it make sense? How is it that Jesus is going to die for His friends?

What is going to happen is that Jesus is going to be arrested, found guilty of sedition by the Roman Proconsul, found guilty of blaspheme by the Chief priests, tortured and put to death by crucifixion. He is also liquidated as someone who was deemed dangerous to the survival of the Jewish people by the powers that be. These are facts, but they have absolutely nothing to do with what Jesus just said. In what way is Jesus laying down His life for His friends?

Jesus will show by His passion and death how to cope with adversity, with this world order. He will stand tall, answer questions only when He thinks it valuable for the hearer and stay silent otherwise. He will remain unafraid, peaceful, patiently facing the blows, the insults and the terrible ordeal of crucifixion. He is thus giving His friends an example of how to live selflessly, refusing completely to adopt any of this world order's methods. He is giving to His friends the supreme example of the Christian life.

Jesus then goes to say: «Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.»14 To be a friend of Jesus, we have to follow His orders; nothing else will do. Again, to be a friend of Jesus, one has to love Him, and loving Him means following His orders, which means, following His example.

C. The disciples are sent as friends and not as servants

It is possible to imagine that something happened at this point of the walk and thus of Jesus' talk; I can imagine that they passed a house where a servant was taking orders from his master. This would explain why Jesus now brings up a point He has not dwelt on before: «Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.»15 Jesus' distinction between «servants» and «friends» is one based on knowledge: while the orders given to a servant do not normally contain any explanation or justification, the orders given to friends come with arguments as to why they are crucial, imperative, necessary. And this explanation comes from God as Father, as the One Who knows His plan for each of us.

Jesus goes on to say: «Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.»16 This sentence is quite complicated and contains many points, some which we have already seen, sometimes in a different form, and some which we have not.

What He is saying is that He is the One Who gives orders. He chose His disciples. They are His agents, and it is their job to work effectively (bring forth much fruit, a return to the introductory parable) for the Kingdom. As long as they are His agents, His officials, His vine branches, God as Father will grant them anything they ask for. (Here it is not Jesus Who receives and grants His disciples' requests but God Father.)

Jesus than closes this section of His talk by what He considers its fundamental point: «These things I command you, that ye love one another.»17 All He is saying seems to come down to that single statement: love each other. It is as if nothing else matters.

D. The world's hate of Jesus will be transferred to His disciples

Jesus contrasts His commandment of love for each other with this statement of fact about our world order: «If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.»18 The Greek word translated as «hate», «misei» (μισει), can also be translated by «detest», which to me is even stronger. Jesus claims that this world order detests Him, and will detest His agents, as they are continuing His work.

This is a rather strong statement. Is Jesus basically paranoid? Is this world order really detesting Him and all He stands for? Are not His present agents well considered by our present world order? We certainly cannot say that the Pope is reviled by our world's establishment, its presidents and prime ministers; nor are the bishops persecuted by most of our world's media, tycoons and politicians. So it thus seem that Jesus is plain wrong here. In fact, most if not all Church officials seem to be rather cozy with the powers that be. Could this be explained by the fact that they do not teach this fundamental message of love for all and sundry irrespective of the crimes committed? Could it be because they do not insist on the need to turn the other cheeck at all times? Could it be because they do not preach the need to forgive everyone, whatever the crime? Could it be because they do not stand against all forms of violence, including that done by the police under the law or by a country's armed forces under the orders of a legally constituted government? Did any member of the clergy suggest to the American people that they should turn the other cheek after the destruction of the World Trade Center?

Jesus adds on this subject: «If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.»19 Jesus makes it clear that this world order has no problem with those who act according to its laws and customs. Those it cannot cope with are the individuals who act outside those laws and customs, as they by their very existence put into question the whole scheme on which it is based. And, adds Jesus, He has taken His disciples out of this scheme as His commandment of love towards one another is contrary to this world order. This makes them outlaws, people to be hunted down and destroyed.

He goes on to say: «Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.»20 Jesus is sending His disciples as His agents, to proclaim His message. This word order's reaction to them will thus be the same as it was to Him.21 Those who accept Him will accept them; those who persecute Him will persecute them.

Jesus then goes one step further in His claim: «But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.»22 The reason why some will persecute them for following Jesus, He says, is because they do not know the One who sent Him, God Father. Indeed, their god is not every human's Father, but someone who crushes his enemies and makes them pay to the full; a god of justice, a god of war, a god that divides people between the «saved», his personal friends, and the «damned», those his friends cannot stand.

E. This world order's mistakes are now faults

Jesus then utters some sentences that I find difficult to understand in the King James version: «If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.»23 Here we have the first reference to «sin» in Jesus' discourses after the Last Supper. The Greek word so translated, «amartian» (αμαρτιαν), means «error», «mistake», «fault». This text would be better translated as: «they had no fault until I came and spoke to them, but now they have no excuse concerning their mistake». Jesus has come to correct the mistake good religious people had made in interpreting Who God Is and what He wills. But now the excuse of ignorance is no longer valid as Jesus has made these corrections, has proved that He indeed speaks for God, has proclaimed Who God really Is, has clearly stated what we must do to be saved.

That this is the correct interpretation is made evident by what follows: first Jesus' assertion to be the incarnation of His Father: «He that hateth me hateth my Father also.»24 where He makes clear that He speaks for God Father, and then by: «If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.»25

Jesus clearly says that before He came, gave the message He did and did the miracles He did, the people's errors were not faults: they just did not know better. They could not be blamed for their misinterpretation of God's message. This statement is very important as in it Jesus states categorically that the message found in the Septuagint26 is neither clear, correct nor complete.

But now that Jesus has given God Father's message clearly, correctly, completely, now that He has proven conclusively that He is representing His Father by signs and miracles that no mere human could have done without God acting through Him, there is no longer any valid reason to pursue the wrong values and attitudes. What was an error is now a fault.

He follows with: «But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.»27 It is freely that people detest Jesus. They have definitely no cause as He proved that He was God's Voice by His miracles. But God's message is totally unacceptable to this world order; so those who follow it have no choice but to attack both Jesus and His disciples (as they represent Him28) and so attack God Father as well as Jesus definitely represents His Father.

F. The rôle of the disciples' Helper

Jesus then says that His disciples will have a Helper: «But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:»29 Jesus again tells His disciples that God Father will send them the Breath of Truth as a Helper. These are mostly points He already made in His talk at table that evening although there are also two new points.

The first is that this Helper «proceeds from the Father». What does this term mean? The Greek word «ekporeuetai» (εκπορευεται) means «come out». This Breath of Truth comes out of God Father; I suppose we could say that this Breath is an exhalation of God Father.

The second is that this Breath will «testify of me». The Greek word translated by «testify» is «marturèsei» (μαρτυρησει). It is a legal term that means «be a witness», «give a statement as a witness», «testify», «attest». From this word comes the word «martyr» as the one who attests with her life what she is stating. How this Breath of Truth will attest to Jesus is not said. But Jesus is very much someone who believes in actions rather than just words. So this Breath will have to act in ways that are clear for people to see.

Jesus then goes on to say:«And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.»30 The Greek term translated here as «bear witness» is the same one that was translated a line earlier as «testify to me». The rôle of the disciples is to give an account of Jesus' life, acts and words. Theirs is a rôle of telling the truth about Him, of giving us the facts. They are to tell us «the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth» with God Father's Helper within them.

G. The disciples' hardships predicted

Jesus goes on to tell His disciples that He is preparing them for the hardships to come by predicting them, by telling them that they are unavoidable. This way they will not be scandalized when they happen: «These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.»31 He does not want His disciples to think for a moment that their hardships to come are to be construed as a sign that God Father is abandoning them, a sign that He is really on the side of their adversaries.

He goes further. Indeed, He forecasts a violent reaction by the Jewish leaders against them: «They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.»32 His disciples will be persecuted by the Jewish authorities and their followers, all convinced of acting in the true service of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Of course, the reason why they will be so acting is because their knowledge of God is erroneous: «And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.»33 The fundamental problem is their ignorance of Who God Father Is, an ignorance based on an ignorance of Who Jesus is, the Manifestation of God Father.

Jesus then goes on to say: «But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.»34 For Jesus, it is important that His disciples know that He is well aware of the great difficulties facing them ahead. But He trusts that they can and will cope with them, that they are now mature enough to face the music. He did not tell them things like that before as He was there to hold them by the hand when the going got tough.

He tells them why He trusts in their newly found maturity: «But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?»35 Indeed, though He is on His way to God Father, the One Who sent Him on His mission, His disciples are not holding on to Him, pleading that they cannot cope without Him. For Him, the very fact that they are not asking where He is going implies that they are ready to be left alone on their mission.

Which of course does not mean that they do not feel very sad at seeing Jesus go: «But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.»36 They are sad, but also ready to accept the fact of His departure, His death.

H. The many rôles of the Advocate

Jesus now proceeds to try to cheer His disciples up by talking about their new Helper. At first glance, His first statement is rather odd: «Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.»37 Here we have quite a long sentence. He says that it is to their advantage that He leaves them, as it is the only way the Helper can come to them.

But why does Jesus have to go away for their Helper to come? We have seen earlier that Jesus is both His disciples' first Helper and their Master. As He goes, they have to take over: after being mere assistants in Jesus' earthly mission, they now are put in charge. This new Helper is coming to help them take charge, make decisions, face difficulties without the earthly physical presence of Jesus as guide.

This is followed by a very strange statement about this Helper: «And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:»38 Here we have quite a few words whose translation need to be checked.

The Greek word translated by «reprove», «eleigksei» (ελεγξει) means «accuse», « refute», «reproach» someone about something. We have already seen that the Greek word translated by «sin», «amartias» (αμαρτιας), means «error», «fault». The Greek word translated by «righeousness», «dikaiosunès» (δικαιοσυνης), means «justice», «practice of justice». And, finally, the Greek word translated by «judgment», «kriseôs» (κρισεως), means «deciding», «choice», «election», «separating», «judgment», «condemnation».

But what are we to make of this sentence even after having examined the proper meaning of these four Greek terms? What does it really mean? Perhaps this can be understood more easily if we notice that Jesus follows this preliminary statement by the reasons He gives for its validity. So perhaps it should be examined within the context of the proofs He offers.

The first of these is: «Of sin, because they believe not on me;»39 Considering the previous sentence, Jesus says that the Helper will accuse this world order of «sin» for not believing Him. This translation does not make much sense to me. I can make much more sense of it with the substitution of «error» for the word «sin». Jesus would then be saying that the Helper would be clearly stating to this world order that it was for them an error, a serious error, not to believe in Jesus' message.

The second argumentation is: «Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;»40 This is again bizarre! Why is Jesus' going to the Father, disappearing from His disciples, the reason for the Helper to accuse this world order? Furthermore, since when does one accuse someone of righteousness?

We have seen that Jesus going to His Father and disappearing from view means His death. So Jesus' statement could be paraphrased as: «Of righteousness, because of My death». But this does not make much sense either. Of course we have seen that the Greek term translated by «righteousness» could also be translated by «practice of justice». Could this then be better translated as: «the Helper will accuse them about their way of practicing justice, as they will have condemned Me to death.»?

At least it does make definite sense within the context of the Acts of the Apostles, where the disciples accuse on many occasions the leaders and members of their world order of putting to death an innocent man, Jesus, the Manifestation of God Father as well as of being stubborn in refusing to recognize Jesus as God's Mouthpiece.

The third argumentation is: «Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.»41 We have the Helper refuting the world about «judgment» because the «prince of this world» stands «judged». The verb translated by «judged» is from the some root as the noun translated by «judgment». We have already seen that the Greek word translated by «prince», «apchôn» (αρχων), means «head», «magistrate» and so the one who is first, shows the way, guides others.

This being said, what sense can we make of this? Why is the leader of the world «judged»? One judges between choices. If there is only one choice, there is no judgment. But Jesus' life, death and resurrection establish another choice from that offered by this world order: we do not have to fight and defend ourselves as this world order compels us to do, we can actually refuse to fight and defend ourselves as Jesus tells us to do; we do not have to hate our enemies as this world order instructs us, we can actually love them; we do not have to exact revenge as this world order requires of us, we can actually forgive from the bottom of our heart; we do not have to use violence to create law and order as this world order has done from time immemorial, we can live by non-violence as we can actually accept to be used and abused like Jesus was.

The Helper will be there in the disciples to remind them of these choices, to remind them that the world order's way of life is not the only one, that Jesus brought them a totally different way. So they have a choice to make, a judgment call to do.

Jesus then goes on to say: «I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.»42 This again is a rather strange thing to say. Jesus would really like to tell His disciples much more, but they would not be able to manage the load of these sayings of His. What can these be? Why can they not manage them now?

He follows this by: «Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.»43 So the Breath of Truth will come and He will guide Jesus' disciples. The Greek verb translated by «guide», «odègèsei» (οδηγησει), means «lead», «guide» on the way. So this Helper will guide the disciples on the way to the Truth. How will He do that? By telling them what He Himself has heard. Whom from? Jesus does not say just here. But He adds that He will announce things that are just starting to happen.

Jesus adds: «He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.»44 This I would rather translate for reasons already given as: «He will make Me known as He will announce to you what He will receive from Me.» So Jesus makes it clear that what this Helper will announce is nothing else than what Jesus has provided Him with. He then goes on to explain how that is: «All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.»45 So basically, what this Helper will be telling Jesus' disciples comes both from God Father and Jesus as Jesus and His Father share everything in common.

I can imagine that this is followed by a period of silence, silence needed to let Jesus' words take hold in the minds of His disciples. One way or another, there is definitely a hiatus between what was just said and what is coming next.

Being somewhat of a romantic, and eager to embellish an already perfectly good story, I imagine a noise being heard at some distance: the groans of a woman in the very last stages of labour. Jesus and His disciples are hearing her cries of pain and agony as she is trying to push her baby out. These noises could easily be heard outside as people's houses were without window panes. And cries of pain were commonplace in a world without painkillers, epidurals and effective medications.

I can imagine that Jesus and His disciples are getting closer to the house where she is. She is moaning louder than ever, and more frequently, suggesting that her delivery is near. The encouragement of the midwife also suggests the same.

I. The effect of the next few days on the disciples

Jesus breaks His silence. He tells His disciples that He will soon go away to His Father and then come back: «A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.»46 We have seen that it means that the disciples will not see Him when His Body is in the tomb, when He is dead, when He is with His Father, but He will show Himself to them alive though dead.

This is not understood by His disciples who cannot figure out what Jesus is saying:47

Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father? They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith. Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye inquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me?48

I can finally imagine that a cry now pierces the air: the cry of a new-born child! This is followed by the midwife telling the mother that the child is a boy! The disciples and Jesus can hear the cries of joy from both mother and midwife as a new child is born into the world.

After this interruption (real or just imagined by me), Jesus starts to explain things: «Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.»49 He tells His disciples that they will cry and lament as they mourn His death, a death that this world order will celebrate as it will show clearly to its leaders that this troublemaker was not protected by their God, the God who saves those He loves and crushes the ones He hates. His death will prove to them that they were right in crucifying Him, that they were right in accusing Him of blaspheme, that they were right is saying He was a devil, that they were right in saying that He wanted to fight Roman rule. The disciples will wail because they will have lost a good friend and someone they had hoped would procure them power and prestige as assistants to the Messiah.

Jesus then goes on to say: «A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.»50 Jesus now interprets the disciples' sorrow, affliction, distress, hardship, terms that are all translations of the Greek word «lupèn» (λυπην), as the birth pangs of a woman in labour.

According to my imaginings, Jesus would have been using what He and His disciples had just witnessed as a metaphor. Whether this is the case or not, it remains that the time of delivery is for the expectant mother a time of excruciating pain and distress, but pain and distress are followed by joy when her baby is born, cries for the first time, when she first holds her baby in her arms and nurses him.

There is something a bit odd in Jesus' analogy; in it, it is the disciples who are giving birth and Jesus Who is being born! The disciples rejoice when Jesus is well and truly born alive after time in His disciples' common womb. His disciples' pain and travail brings forth Jesus' birth to new Life. In this analogy even more than in the Vine parable, Jesus has a passive rôle.

Perhaps the explanation is this: Jesus' disciples have to let Him go, let Him be born to new Life. They cannot keep Him with them, in their collective «womb». This parturition, this parting is difficult for them; in fact, it is excruciating for them. But it is necessary if Jesus is to be «born» into Life. Letting go of those we love is not an easy task, but it is a necessary part of growing up, both for them and for us.

Jesus continues to develop this point: «And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.»51 Jesus states that His disciples' sorrow at His death is like that of the woman in travail, but just as she rejoices when her child is born alive, so will they when they see that, although dead, He is more alive than ever; that instead of being confined to the womb of this earthy life, He is now free in the Real World.

This future experience of the risen Jesus will be one that no one can take away from them as they will know for a fact that Jesus is more alive than He ever was before he died. This event will prove once and for all that Jesus is right and that this world order with its deification of violence is totally wrong.

So Jesus can then add: «And in that day ye shall ask me nothing.»52 as the disciples will then finally make sense of it all and so will not need to ask Him anymore questions (the «ask» of this sentence is really «ask questions»).

J. Asking in Jesus' name

Jesus now proceeds to something different: «Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.»53 We have already examined what Jesus meant by «asking the Father in His name». But He adds that His disciples have so far never asked for anything in such a way, which is hardly surprising according to the interpretation that I gave earlier. But there is more: asking in such a fashion will always be efficacious, and this will fill the disciples with joy. «Joy» is as apt a translation of the Greek term «chara» (χαρα) as is «pleasure». Following Jesus, asking to become more and more like Him and becoming more and more like Him brings the disciple an ever growing joy. Indeed, noticing that we are growing up to be more and more like Jesus is a source of real joy.

It is highly probable that there was again a period of pregnant silence as they continued their walk. This again was interrupted by Jesus on a different subject.

He goes on to say: «These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father.»54 Jesus acknowledges that He has been speaking in elliptical terms but adds that He will now speak frankly, calling a spade a spade as the expression goes. The term «proverb», the correct translation of the Greek term «paroimiais» (παροιμιαις), implies a style somewhat obscure and partly allegorical. Jesus did not use the term «death» but terms like «going to the Father», «seeing Me no more», He did not use the term «resurrection» but «seeing Me again». The Greek term «parrèsia» (παρρησια) translated by «plainly», could also be translated by «frankly», «without any artifice».

Whether or not what follows is said plainly is open to debate, but it is a good summary of quite a few points: «At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.»55 It could be translated as: «Then I will not have to ask God Father on your behalf what you ask as My officers as He Himself loves you, and the reason why is because you loved Me and trusted that I came from Him.»

Then He goes on to repeat Himself: «I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.»56 He says again that He came from God Father into this world order, on this planet, to live a human life, and now He is leaving this world order by dying and so going back to Whom He came: God His Father. By this statement He clearly, straightforwardly and categorically states that, contrary to all other humans, He existed before He was conceived in His mother's womb, as He Is with God Father from all eternity.

At this point comes the disciples only interjection: «His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.»57

From this, I gather that the disciples found Jesus' last statement easy to understand; that they indeed understood that Jesus was from before He was born, came from God Father, and would go back to Him through death very soon indeed; that He knew what would happen next, just like He knew what was on their mind, though I cannot but marvel that they would be in awe of such a normal gift as Jesus being able to read their faces after all this time. Still, the authority with which He spoke, the solemnity of the occasion all conspired to make them trust that He was telling the truth when He was saying that He Is with God before being born into this world.

K. The hardships to come are predicted

This trust in Jesus permits Him to go further, to tell them in greater detail what will happen to Him. This is clear by the way Jesus starts this prediction of things to come in the next hours: «Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?»58 Indeed, He has to make sure that they really trust Him before He ventures further in telling them what will happen to all of them.

Taking His disciples' silence for the «yes» it is, He then proceeds: «Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.»59 Jesus foretells that in the next hours they will all run their own way trying to escape from the authorities, leaving Him well and truly alone, though He is never alone as God Father is always, but always, with Him as He Is within Him.

Jesus then concludes this talk on a walk by: «These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.»60 This is a rather strange saying, albeit a significant one. It is worth examining it closely.

The Greek expression translated as «might have peace», «eirènèn echète» (ειρηνην εχητε), means «to be at peace» in opposition to the contrary expression, «to be at war». What Jesus says here is odd because He says that His disciples will be at peace in Him, which is not the kind of thing usually said as you are normally either at peace or at war! The fact is that the state of affairs the disciples are to live under is that of «tribulation», the translation of the Greek word «thlipsin» (θλιψιν), which could also be translated as «pressure», «compression», «oppression». We are to conclude that the disciples will live under this world order's oppression while being at peace in Jesus! What can this really mean?

He goes on to tell them to «be of good cheer», the translation of the Greek term «tharseite» (θαρσειτε), which would be better translated as «have confidence», «be resolute», «be courageous». Jesus is telling His disciples to be courageous in the hard fight ahead.

As encouragement He tells them that He has already won the war against this world order as the term «overcome» is the translation of the Greek term «nenikèka» (νενικηκα) that comes from «nikaô» (νικαω) which means «win against», «be the winner over».

So Jesus tells His disciples that He has already won the war against this world order. This again, is rather strange if taken very litterally, as He has yet to go through His passion, death and resurrection. But it can be seen as the kind of morale booster a general will give to his troups before the start of hostilities. He predicts to his men that victory is a sure thing with him at their head.

So Jesus is providing His disciples with some greatly needed reassurance that victory will be theirs, even though the fight will be very rough and they will start by loosing ground, by being scattered when the enemy's first onslaught comes.

Jesus finishes His talk on the walk with the promise of final victory and of succour during the fight as His disciples will be able to be at peace in Him, will be able to refresh themselves in a safe heaven when the going gets too rough.

L. Beaulieu's Revised Version!

Again, let me paraphrase Jesus' talk on a walk, concentrating only on His sayings:

«I am truly a vine and my Father is its farmer. He cuts off My fruitless branches and prunes My fruitful ones. Only by being part of Me can you be fruitful just like it is only as part of the vine that a vine branch can produce fruit. A cut off branch is dead; so are you without Me. If you are in Me, nourished by My words, following them, whatever you ask so as to be more fruitful will be done to you. Bearing much fruit, that is, following My orders, is how you show Who God Father Is.

I love you just like God Father loves Me. Just as I have to follow God Father's orders for Me to stay in His love, you have to follow Mine to remain in Mine. I am telling you this so that I can continue to be happy with you, and that you can also be happy. My order to you is to love each other just like I love you. Giving up one's life for others is the greatest show of love.

You are My friends if you do what I order you to do. You are not My servants as they do not know why they are given orders. You are friends as I told you all that God Father told Me. I chose you and gave you a mission. As I want you to continually bear fruit, everything you need for your mission and ask for will be given by God Father. Your mission is to love each other.

If this world order detests you, do not forget that it detested Me first. The reason why this world order hates you is because you do not follow its rules and regulations, but Mine. Those who accepted My message will accept yours; those who persecuted Me will persecute you. It is because of Me that they will persecute you, because they do not understand He Who sent Me.

People were without fault until I came and spoke to them, but now they have no excuse concerning their mistake as I proved that I am representing God by the miracles that came from Me. These prove that I spoke for God just as I claim. So anyone who detests Me necessarily detests God Father Who demonstrated that He supports My claims. So it is without reason that they detest Me.

I will send you a Helper, the Truthful Breath Who emanates from God Father. He will testify on My behalf; and so will you, who have been with Me since the start.

I am telling you now, so that you are not taken aback, that you will be excommunicated and killed by people who by so doing will think that they are obeying God. This will happen to you at the hands of those who know neither God Father nor Me. You must always remember this. The reason I did not tell you this before is that I was still with you but now I am going to die.

As you do not cling to Me, I can see that you are ready to be left alone, though you are very sad at My departure.

Still, this is the only way the Helper can come to you to help you take charge. This Helper will give you the courage to tell people off, to state that not believing My message is a great error; that condemning Me to death was an act of grave injustice; to show them My alternative to this world order's choice of violence and force, an alternative of love and service, of total non-violence.

I would like to say more, but this is all you can manage. But the Truthful Breath will guide you on the way. He will make Me known as He will announce to you what He will receive from Me. All that is My Father's is also Mine.

Soon I will die; soon after, I will show Myself alive though dead. At My death, you will weep while this world order will rejoice; but when you see Me alive though dead you will rejoice. Just like the woman with child rejoices when she gives birth although she was in pain and agony beforehand.

You are sad, but when you see Me after My death you will rejoice with a joy that cannot be extinguished. Then you will understand. God Father will give you whatever you ask to achieve your mission. You will be happy when you are more and more able to perform your mission.

I have not always been as clear as I could have been, but I now speak to you frankly. I will not have to beg God Father on your behalf; God Father will give you whatever you ask as My officers as He Himself loves you. The reason for His love for you is that you love Me and trust that I came from Him. I came from God Father, was born on this planet and now will die and return to God Father.

As you now accept that I am telling you the truth, I can also tell you that you will soon all desert Me, leaving Me alone with God Father Who never deserts Me.

I am telling you all this that you might find peace in Me. You will be oppressed by this world order, but you must be courageous as I have won the battle over this world order.»

1 John 15:1

2 John 15:2

3 John 15:3

4 John 15:4

5 John 15:5

6 John 15:6

7 John 15:7

8 John 15:8

9 John 15:9

10 John 15:10

11 John 15:11

12 John 15:12

13 John 15:13

14 John 15:14

15 John 15:15

16 John 15:16

17 John 15:17

18 John 15:18

19 John 15:19

20 John 15:20

21 From this we should be able to conclude that we can determine how truthful to Jesus' message we are by how we are treated: we are truthful to Jesus if we are treated like He was.

22 John 15:21

23 John 15:22

24 John 15:23

25 John 15:24

26 the Greek «Old Testament»

27 John 15:25

28 or should I have written «in the measure that they effectively represent Him»?

29 John 15:26

30 John 15:27

31 John 16:1

32 John 16:2

33 John 16:3

34 John 16:4

35 John 16:5

36 John 16:6

37 John 16:7

38 John 16:8

39 John 16:9

40 John 16:10

41 John 16:11

42 John 16:12

43 John 16:13

44 John 16:14

45 John 16:15

46 John 16:16

47 This could suggest that both these talks could not have given one after the other as Jesus' disciples had already had these problems and Jesus had answered them. It could be that this «second» talk is just another version of the same talk we have seen before, insisting on somewhat different points, with a different style and inner dynamic. But it could also be that He is not always walking next to the same disciples, and that some had not heard everything He had said at table, if only because some must have been busy with the housekeeping at the hall where they ate.

48 John 16:17-19

49 John 16:20

50 John 16:21

51 John 16:22

52 John 16:23a

53 John 16:23b-24

54 John 16:25

55 John 16:26-27

56 John 16:28

57 John 16:29-30

58 John 16:31

59 John 16:32

60 John 16:33

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

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