In what many scholars call his “Farewell Discourse” (Chapters 14-17 of John’s Gospel), Jesus is preparing his disciples for his departure and their receipt of the Holy Spirit. Throughout the text, Jesus reiterates his favorite theme: love. He also promises the Holy Spirit. Finally, Jesus emphasizes the intimate unity of Jesus, God, the Spirit, and the believer.

Christians are familiar with the Trinity, but perhaps the most stunning feature of the Fourth Gospel is what Jaime Clark-Soles, Professor of New Testament at SMU has termed the Quattrinity. In John, Jesus insists that the intimate relationship that exists between him, God, and the Spirit also includes believers. The believer does not stand close by admiring the majesty of the Trinity; rather, she is an equal part of it. John tries to grab hold of a number of terms and repeating them: abide, love, the language of being “in,” and later, an emphasis on “one-ness” (John 17:21-23).

Johannine [relating to the Apostle John the Evangelist, the Gospel or epistles of John in the NT] believers don’t “imitate” Jesus; they participate in him wholly. If the passage is read aloud and preached, the reading should go through John 14: 23, the pinnacle of the passage: “Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”

If God and Christ have made their home with us, how can we imagine there to be any distance between us and God? This, in turn, affects our eschatology. Everything that matters, that is, ultimate intimacy with God and Christ, is available now. What might one hope for beyond that? God is not currently holding out on us in any way—life, abundant life, is available for living right now.

It’s worth noting that love is tied to John’s realized eschatology [theology concerned with the “end times”]. Jesus gives one commandment: to love. Therefore, judgment and eternal life begin now. At the end of each day, and during each moment of each day, for John, there’s only one question to ask yourself: “In what ways did I or did I not love today?” As you reflect upon that, judgment happens. Where you did not love, there lies judgment. But understand that for John judgment is merely diagnostic, not retributive.

Jesus constantly asks the characters questions that help them understand their lives and motives more clearly. To the sick man: “Do you wish to be made well?”; to Martha: “Do you believe this?” He asks questions not because he doesn’t know the answers (since John 2:24-25 assures us that Jesus already knew everything); rather, he asks so that we might know, and therefore move forward with clear vision into the truth, light, glory, love, abundant for which God has created us.