A guilty conscience imagines all kinds of things, so it is no wonder that Herod, in our gospel text today, wonders if this Jesus is actually John the Baptist come back from the dead. If Herod only knew just how back from the dead this man called Jesus would eventually come!

Back from the dead: not to haunt the consciences of Herod and all of us who have ever lived only for ourselves – and who among us has not made decisions only for our own benefit? Back from the dead: not to take the reigns of worldly power and install himself as the new super power at the head of a super nuclear arsenal, toppling all who stand in his way.

Seems like everywhere we turn these days, someone is stirring up trouble. There’s trouble from the right and there’s trouble from the right. There’s trouble in the Middle East and there’s trouble in Washington. Yet while stirring up trouble just for the sake of making trouble can be seriously damaging, and so much of human trouble making is negative and hurtful, trouble making in and of itself isn’t always a bad thing.

In this passage from the gospel of John today, Jesus says, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” (John 15:8, NRSV)

“That you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

Here we find that bearing fruit and becoming Jesus’ disciples are tied together. Those of us who would follow Jesus should also be dedicated to bearing fruit worthy of our Savior.

The passage from 1 John that is linked in the Three Year Common Lectionary Cycle to this passage from the Gospel of John tells us what this “fruit” should look like: Love.

This week’s scripture lessons are so very rich and full, they stand on their own, almost like the time I added too much cornstarch to a cream chicken recipe, and each spoonful stood up on the plate like a monument to the heavy lifting our stomachs would need to do to digest our meal!

As always, if God in Christ can help us listen and learn, these and all scriptures deeply challenge us, even as they uplift our spirits and encourage our journeys as people of faith, as co-conspirators for building a more peace-inspired, loving and compassionate human race, dedicated to the care of God’s earth and the care of one another.

This week’s gospel text is one of my favorites because it reminds us of why we share the peace during worship service, and it reminds us why we are sent to build peace in the world.

The Christ, who was crucified on the cross for the sins of our lives and of the world, who died and was raised from the dead; this Christ appears to the disciples in the upper room where they met behind a locked door, as they were fearing for their lives - what if they were next, what if they were crucified as Jesus had been?