We Have Much to Learn


John 16:12-15

Grace and Peace to you from the Triune God. Amen

Can you remember that first time you were in a class and just felt so overwhelmed that you thought you would never get through it? Maybe it was when the teacher or professor handed you the course syllabus and you were left wondering why did I decide to take this course. Perhaps it was while you were in the midst of the course and things for some reason were just not sticking and were slipping out of your mind as quickly as you heard them or read them.

For me that course was not until my senior year of my undergrad when I needed to get some credits to fulfill my basic requirements. My wife was majoring in psychology at the time and I thought this would be an easy class to pass. Since all I needed to do was pas the class I decided to take the class pass/fail. In this case I needed to get a C in the class to receive the credit. It was by far the class I struggled with most throughout my entire education and my wife was loving every single moment of it, since I usually did not have to put any extra effort into my studies.

It is a wonderful thing that God has created us all with our own gifts and talents and that we can usually find one thing that we are drawn to and utilizes those gifts and talents. For me, at the time, psychology was not one of my gifts or talents. Psychology at that time for me was a bit of a mystery.

We are surrounded by mystery every step along the way. We do not have the answers for everything, and if we think that we do, we are only kidding ourselves. We are surrounded by mystery this morning as we approach the doctrine of the Trinity. Part of the issue may be that we try to compartmentalize everything when it comes to trying to understand it and we think that if we can do so than it will make much more sense to ourselves and hopefully to others that we are trying to communicate. However, God is found in the mystery and it is here that we live. It is through our faith that we come to trust and rely in the Trinity in relationship.

Yet, we still struggle for more answers to the most profound questions of humanity. Jesus states in John this morning that “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them” (16:12). If you are familiar with John in any matter than it may seem contradictory to what Jesus says in 15:15, “I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” So, what is it? Has Jesus made everything known to us, or does he still have many things to say that we cannot quite bear?

Yes! Jesus has made everything known to us. However, do we always pick up what he is laying down? The disciples are proof that not everything is understood that comes out of Jesus’ mouth. They were often left wondering what he was saying as well as at times appearing dense. Like myself in psychology, there are times when we are just not ready to bear those things that are being said or taught to us.

Our parents always had more to say, and they may still, but are we ready to bear some of those things that they are wanting to tell us? Teachers always have more to say, no matter what subject you are in, and it can get to a point when we are just ready to say enough is enough, I can only handle so much in one day. Children are not the only ones that have trouble bearing certain topics. Parents, are you ready to bear some of those things that your teenagers would like to say? Are we ready to bear suffering, severe illness, or even death?

We have much to learn, and we cannot do it on our own. Even though many of us will try. Jesus is well aware of this and knows that we cannot bear it all on our own. It is in the third part of the Trinity that Jesus sends his promise that the Spirit of truth will come and guide us all into the truth. Jesus’ teaching is not yet complete and it is in the Spirit that we will continue to be instructed.

The Holy Spirit is in relationship with God and Jesus so that we too may be able to reflect that relationship that is shared amongst them. We must be receptive to not just God and Jesus, for the Spirit comes bearing the truth that guides us in our ways. By being receptive to the Spirit we are led to a much better and deeper understanding of our faith. As the Trinity is in relationship, we are in community and reflect the love that the three in one have for each other.

We must be patient as we study and wait for the Spirit to come guide us in the way and share the truth. I fell in love with this painting when I found it earlier this week. It is titled, Studying the Bible, and it is by Leonid Afremov. For one thing, it reflects the importance of being in relationship with one another. The three gentleman in the painting appear to be of the three Abrahamic faiths and seem to be having a great conversation around the Bible. It speaks to relationship. It speaks to mystery.

The mystery that surrounds our faith should be embraced as we welcome the Spirit of truth to guide us. Get it out of your mind right now that we are expected to know everything and understand everything. Instead, let us wait and listen. We are called to be patient in this waiting and listening. We are called to listen to the past. We are called to listen to the present. We are called to listen to the future. We still have much to learn as children of God. May you be receptive to the Spirit of truth that Jesus has sent to guide us throughout the rest of our days.

*Studying the Bible, painting by Leonid Afremov

By Alex Steward

I am a husband, father, and pastor within the ELCA. I did not grow up in the church and thus come at this pastoring thing with an unique perspective.

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