In the Lectionary

May 20, Pentecost B (John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15)

Jesus has gone underground. That's the setting of our Gospel reading this Pentecost.

The authorities have been trying to get rid of Jesus for a while now. We catch the first glimpse into their plotting in chapter five of John’s Gospel, when they accused him of blasphemy and “were seeking all the more to kill him” (5:18). When Jesus heard about these threats, he became more judicious with his travels, staying away from their heavily patrolled areas and only venturing into locales where he had a powerful base of support, people who would make a fuss if he were arrested.

He stayed away from Judea, for example, because the authorities “were looking for an opportunity to kill him” (7:1). When their surveillance police did track him down, agents converged upon him and attempted his arrest but ultimately failed (7:30–44). Later, the authorities incited a mob to stone him, but Jesus somehow escaped the execution (8:59). On another occasion they grabbed him, yet he miraculously slipped their custody (10:39).

The disciples soon recognized their own imperilment—their guilt by association—and as they traveled from town to town with Jesus, they knew their lives were at risk. “Let us also go,” Thomas said to his fellow disciples, “that we may die with him” (11:16). Thomas and the others had every reason to fear for their lives as the opposition to Jesus intensified. Politico-