Sixth Monday of Eastertide – Acts 16:11-15; John 15:26-16:4

The future Jesus describes to His disciples is frightening. They will be thrown out of the synagogues. That means condemned to social ostracism. They will kill you. Terrifying. Even worse, when they kill you, they will say it is honouring God because you are the evil ones. Who will do this? Your brothers in faith. Those who recognise the One God but do not recognise the teachings of the Son of God. Why is this? Because they neither know the Father nor the Son.

It must be terrible when fellow believers are treated in such a way. But it wasn’t just then. So it was during and after the Reformation, and so it is today. There’s no shortage of those who have not come to know the Son, and so they tone down the demands of the Gospel in all sorts of ways, forcing them into the restricted frames of convenient habits – no shortage of this today. Love your enemies? Yes, but this one, out of love, needs be treated with an abusive byname. Forgiveness? Yes, but he doesn’t deserve it because he didn’t express remorse. Wash each other’s feet? Yes, but position and status have their rights and in the face of such dignities the masses shouldn’t prance about. When someone reading the Gospel shouts that it can’t be like that, they answer as the Jewish leaders once did to the blind man healed by Jesus: “you were born in sin and dare to teach us”.

Which side is Jesus on then? It’s hard to have any doubts.