John 14:8-17

Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine

The order of the parts of Jesus' final discourse in the lectionary is confusing. We are given the end of the discourse one week, and then moved back to an earlier part the next.I expect that the reason for this ordering is because of the theme of the Holy Spirit that is present in John 14:8-17 for Pentecost.

But this is at the expense of the overall experience of Jesus' speech. I have suggested that you tell the whole speech on the week it is first introduced (with John 13:31-35) so that people will have experienced it in its entirety before examining its parts, especially if they are received out of chronological order. Then they will have a context for each of the sections in the order that they are received. The notion that somehow people will understand because it will make sense theologically is wishful thinking.

In this commentary, I want to comment on the speech episode by episode. I suggest that you print the speech arranged in episodes so that you can follow my comments easily.

The first episode in this section of the discourse revolves around Philip's statement,"Show us the Father and we will be satisfied." Jesus' response is incredulity: "How can you ask to see the Father when I've been showing you the Father all the time? If I'm in the Father and the Father is in me then it isn't I who speak but the Father who dwells in me and does his works. So how can you say..." The logic moves from Philip's question,"Show us the Father and we will be satisfied," to the second episode, "How can you say 'Show us the Father'?"

The logic in this section of Jesus' speech is to say, "If you don't believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, and the words that I speak don't carry any authority for you, then at least believe that the Father is in the works and pay attention to the works."My hearing of this is that Jesus is somewhat impatient with Philip. This isn't just a statement of detached objectivity or puzzlement. This statement has an edge to it.

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