ACTS 4:19-28 ; JOHN 14:27-31

I DO JUST AS THE FATHER HAS COMMANDED ME. With these quite ordinary words Jesus, speaking with his intimate circle of disciples, opens a door that reveals an inner world whose nature is the infinite God.  Knowledge of the will of his Father is natural to Jesus, the beloved Son.  At no point does the Evangelist speak of the Father communicating with Jesus through words addressed to the Son.  On Mount Tabor a statement is made by the Father concerning the son, but it is not addressed to him; rather it is spoken to the three apostles who accompanied their Lord.  Matthew carefully records the message word for word: "Suddenly a voice came down from the cloud saying "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.  Listen to him.'"(17:5) Nowhere, in fact, are we told that the Father addressed any words directly to the Incarnate Lord.  The will of the Father is known to the Son through the very nature of their relationship; The will of the Father is not dependent upon human words to be known by his beloved Son. The knowledge they share transcends human language; it was, and remains, ineffable, being transmitted through a loving communion of the divine nature in which they were in intimate communion.

On the occasion of this present statement, made at the Last Supper, the Savior by implication reveals to his closest followers something of the nature of his relation to his Father.  If Jesus displays repeatedly in his life a freedom of initiative, aware that he is about to die, he makes this revelation that his freedom is the fruit of a trusting obedience to his heavenly Father.  For we know from earlier statements he made in the course of exchanges with his closest followers that he was keenly conscious that his Father's will was that he should lay down his life.  In this statement he is quite deliberately introducing us into the kind of love that is properly divine.  He had spoken on earlier occasions of this obedience that characterized his relations with the Father as when he declared "I do not speak on my own but the Father who sent me has given me orders as to what I am to say and speak." (John 12:49)  Our Lord earlier on this same occasion had gone even further in revealing the intimate unity of his person with the Father when he was asked by Philip to "show us the Father and that will be enough for us."  Jesus' response is given with strong feeling: "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father... do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on my own.  The Father who dwells in me is doing the works." (John 14:10)

There is good reason, as some of the best exegetes maintain, to consider that John's original account of the last supper discourse ended with this statement of our Lord: "I do always what the Father has commanded me."  This opinion is supported by the words: "After saying this, he added "Rise, let us go hence."  The Lord makes it clear in this way that his passion and death are an act of trusting obedience, and so a particular form of love.  That there are many kinds of love has been realized and examined from early times.  As the Lord state at this same occasion: "Greater love than this no one has that he lay down his life for his friends."(John 15:`13)

As we offer this Eucharist here this evening we ourselves are given a personal share in this sacred love.  By the communion in which we share we receive in our limited measure the life that Jesus won for us by his sacrificial death on the cross and by his return to the Father after his resurrection.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger