“My Father and I will come to him”—that is to say, to the holy of heart—says the Son of God, “and we will make our home with him.” It seems to me that when the psalmist said to God: “You make your dwelling in the holy place, you who are Israel’s praise,” he had no other heaven in mind than the hearts of the saints. The apostle expresses it quite clearly: “Christ lives in our hearts through faith,” he tells us. — Bernard of Clairvaux
It was, says John Pilch, in biblical times advantageous to keep as many secrets about oneself as possible. One simply did not disclose ones heart. One also kept the secrets of the family to oneself. No one had the right to know and there was no freedom of information act to make anyone talk.
But Jesus has by this time in the farewell dialogue made it clear that all that the Father has and all that the Father knows Jesus knows as well. He is therefore rightly the Son for only the Son really knows what the father knows. The hired hand does not know the master’s business. Well, he knows as much as needs be to function but beyond that, the master’s business was his alone and one did not pry.
It is therefore natural that the disciples thought that they were and would remain in the dark. Jesus will reassure them that they are no longer his servants but his friends, (Jn 15:15) and that all that the Father has told him, he has made known to them. In our verses, Jesus makes clear that they will not be in want for knowledge. They will know the mind of God the Father and the Spirit will be who brings it to them from here on. Luther would write in the Large Catechism:
38] For neither you nor I could ever know anything of Christ, or believe on Him, and obtain Him for our Lord, unless it were offered to us and granted to our hearts by the Holy Ghost through the preaching of the Gospel. The work is done and accomplished; for Christ has acquired and gained the treasure for us by His suffering, death, resurrection, etc. But if the work remained concealed so that no one knew of it, then it would be in vain and lost. That this treasure, therefore, might not lie buried, but be appropriated and enjoyed, God has caused the Word to go forth and be proclaimed, in which He gives the Holy Ghost to bring this treasure home and appropriate it to us. 39] Therefore sanctifying is nothing else than bringing us to Christ to receive this good, to which we could not attain of ourselves.
The Holy Spirit is the deliverer of Christ to us who live untimely born 2,000 years away from the Resurrection, or a generation away like Johns community. The Resurrection, the cross, the Pentecost, are not and will not be strangers to us or to the second generation of disciples. The Sprit will deliver these
Unlike the rest of life around the early disciples where secrets were carefully kept, the Father would have no secrets with the church from that time on. Disciples of Jesus count as God’s own own, the children of God and Friends of Jesus the Son.
Last week’s second reading from Revelation, continued today, gave us the image of Heaven coming to earth. Though many of us think of us going to heaven when we die, John of Patmos had a different vision. Heaven comes with us to dwell. That has good foundations in the living of Jesus, the Son, who came to his own in flesh and blood. If then the Son comes to visit to save (Jn 3:17) how much more will the rest of the Trinity do the same, though for now it is the Spirit’s time for visitation.
To follow St Bernard of Clairvaux, heaven has again come to earth and always will be on its way to earth. John of Patmos sees a future when all of it will descend to be here. Bernard — with Paul (Ep 3:17) — and Luther speak of the “now” when heaven descends into human hearts.
There is therefore no real division between heaven and earth, if you think about it. From a simple sacramental theology heaven is easily found on many altars in simple things that are privileged to carry the very food of heaven, the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world, to the Lamb’s disciples that gather around those altars.
What shall become of these who gather thus? They are those in whom heaven dwells by the Holy Spirit. It is therefore never a goal of Christian life to go to heaven. There is no distance between disciple and heaven after baptism even now and heaven never dies. But, will it actually get to live in you?