Preparing Easter services from John’s gospel this year I’ve been struck by Jesus' promise, during his extended last supper discussion, not to leave the disciples as orphans and how it encapsulates the gospel.
Lives which had wondered away from God have been called back and invited to follow Jesus. And now Jesus promises not to leave them but to come to them. Indeed he promises that they (we) will recognise that he is in the Father and that we are in him as he is in us.
Yet the means whereby this new relationship is established is through Jesus laying down his life. A laying down which sees him lifted up, where even in the middle of the pain of crucifixion Jesus continues to thirst for God. John’s gospel doesn’t do the abandonment of Gethsemane or the cry of Psalm 22, though John 12:27 and 19:28-30 capture the personal cost and torment.
What struck me is how this one verse (John 14:18) which is often used in a discussion of the place of the Spirit is also a window into the journey of the cross. As Barth noted, in that he takes our place it is decided what our place is…. He has suffered what we ought to have suffered so we do not have to suffer it.
At Easter we remember that Jesus was rejected in order that we might not be rejected. In some way he is orphaned so that we can be heirs.