Have you ever felt homesick?
15 “If you love me,keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and Iam in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will beloved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”
23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
28 “You heard me say,‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30 I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no holdover me, 31 but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me. “Come now; let us leave.
I love travelling. I love meeting people. I love hearing different accents, foreign languages and new words. A German word I came across recently is Fernweh, meaning ‘Feeling homesick for a place you’ve never been.’ On my travels around the country and around the world, I’ve often felt homesick. I imagine you’ve felt homesick before, too. Perhaps many times, like me. But homesick for a place we’ve never been?
Yet Fernweh is exactly what the disciples seem to be feeling at this point in John’s gospel. In the previous section Jesus has just said he’s going away, to ‘prepare a home for them’. It’s clear he’s going to a place the disciples don’t yet know. And according to Thomas, they don’t even know the way. Even children know there are few things more scary, than not knowing your way home.
The disciples are already missing Jesus. Up until now, he’s come alongside them, and called them alongside him. He’s comforted them, and encouraged them to comfort others. He’s bringing them peace, and helping them on the journey through this life. And soon Jesus says, very soon, he’s leaving. Going. To prepare a home for them who-knows-where. They’re homesick for a place they’ve never been – Fernweh.
The truth is that we all feel Fernweh in this life. We all get homesick for a place we’ve never been. Even when I’m having a great time on my travels, and not even thinking of home, I’m always pining for a better one. A greater home. An eternal home. Aren’t you? A home where we’ve never been. A true home we truly feel homesick for.
Jesus encouraged his disciples in verse 23: “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them…”
We learn in this chapter how God deals with the disciples’ Fernweh. He’s going to give them His Spirit – the Spirit of our true home. Jesus does go. Up ahead in John’s gospel, Jesus is going away – to his death for our sakes. And then he’s going home, to prepare a place for all those who believe.
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will bein you.”
It’s the same Spirit he gives us, to help us in our journey home. The Spirit is the way the Father and Son make a home in us, as God encourages us on our journey home.
Head: Think of your homes in your life. How many homes have you lived in? Which was your favourite home, and why?
Heart: When do you most feel homesick? How do you helpfully soothe your homesickness when you’re missing home? How do you sometimes soothe yourself in unhelpful ways?
Hands: Write a list of the 5 best things about your favourite ‘home’.Next to each one, write down one thing about our eternal home that might be even better.
Prayer: Our Father in Heaven, thank you for the perfect home that Jesus is preparing for us, in heaven. Please help me in this journey of life, as I live with homesickness for the home I’ve not yet been to. Guide me by your Spirit of Truth, so that I may follow Jesus all of my days, and go back with him, when he returns to take me home. In the name of the Son and by the power of the Spirit I pray, Amen.
A song to listen to: See the Man