Easter 6A (RCL)
1 Peter 3:13-22
This passage from John’s Gospel comes in the middle of Jesus’ last discourse to his disciples, delivered at the last meal. Part of that discourse answers the anguished question of how the disciples can be sure of Jesus’ continued presence with them. The verse immediately following where this reading ends (14:22), has Judas (not Iscariot) ask, “Master, what has happened that you are about to reveal yourself to us and not to the cosmos?” How will we know your presence is real, if the world can’t see you?
As the answer has been all the way through John’s Gospel, Jesus assures his disciples that he is in the Father and the Father is in him, and we are in Jesus and he in us, and therefore, all of us together in God. The one who loves me keeps my commandments, and the Advocate will come and dwell in the community. When we love one another to the point that our lives are hard to separate (who is in whom?), then we know that God is dwelling in us.
John’s community had a difficult time doing evangelism. God was in them, and they in God, but the world couldn’t see it. In the letters, you see the community tearing itself apart over which part of the community God dwells in. Paul, in his speech on Mars Hill, suggests that all people seek God. John’s Gospel also suggests that in the first question addressed to Jesus, “Rabbi, where do you remain,” and his response, “Come and see.” We have to be careful that we don’t get so wrapped up in our life together as a community that we forget that God’s plan extends to the whole world. We may not go as far as Luke does in the words he puts in Paul’s mouth that God has established the boundaries and times of all the peoples on earth, but the message isn’t just for us.
The problem is double: How can we be sure that God remains with us, when the world can’t see; and how can we show the world that God is in fact involved in human affairs and desires to be with all? The life we live as God’s people, we live to offer God’s presence to all