Through the Bible in One Year

Day 162

John 14:15-31

Over the last three days we have seen four of the five reasons that Jesus’ departure was to his disciples advantage.  We have seen that he was going to prepare a better place.  We have seen that he was going to show them and us the way to the Father.  We have seen that he was going to show them and us greater intimacy of relationship with Father and to enable them and us to greater works.  And now finally we the fifth and final reason, and the most important reason for why it was to the disciples advantage that Jesus depart from them.  And that reason was to send the divine helper.

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”—14:15-21

Jesus continued to help the disciples understand why it was better for him to go than to stay.  He connected love and obedience for the first of several times in this discourse.  Jesus promised he would ask the Father to give the disciples “another advocate” (the Holy Spirit) who would never leave them.  Jesus also referred to the Holy Spirit as the “Spirit of truth.”  The world cannot receive the Spirit, but the Spirit was with the disciples and soon would be in them.  Jesus promised the disciples he would not leave them as orphans; he would come to them, referring to his coming to them after his resurrection.  Jesus’ victory over death would result in eternal life for his followers.  Those who obey Jesus demonstrate a genuine love for him, and they will enjoy an experiential knowledge of God’s presence.

Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.—14:22-24

Judas (not Judas Iscariot) wondered why Jesus would show himself to the disciples but not to the world.  Jesus did not answer the question directly but encouraged them to live a life characterized by obedience.  Those who lovingly obey Jesus will experience the abiding presence of the Father and the Son.  To disobey Jesus’ words is to disobey the Father who sent the Son.

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.—14:25-27

Jesus’ final words in the chapter emphasize assurance.  Jesus’ departure, however, remains prominent in the discussion.  The Spirit would interpret Jesus’ words and ministry to the disciples and remind them of Jesus’ teachings.  The Spirit would guide them as they wrote the Scriptures, especially the Gospels.  Jesus returned to the topic of peace in the midst or turmoil.  Peace is more than just absence of strife; peace refers to well-being and blessing.  Jesus blesses his followers with his peace, the well-being that is the result of being in a right relationship with him.  The peace the world gives is dependent on life’s circumstances.

“You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.

“Come now; let us leave.—14:28-31

Since Jesus blessed them with his peace, the disciples had no need to fear his talk of departure.  Jesus’ comment about going away and coming back is another reference to his death and resurrection.  He knew that they did not understand fully what he meant.  If they had, they would have rejoiced!  It is unlikely Jesus believed they had no love for him, but if they truly loved him, they would be more concerned about him and less concerned about themselves.  Jesus’ purpose in telling them these things was for their faith in him to be strengthened when the events took place.  Satan had no legal claim on Jesus, because Jesus had lived a sinless life.  Since Jesus called his disciples to “leave” with him, the remainder of the discourse may have taken place on the way to Gethsemane.

Now let’s take a closer look at verses 16 through 18, which contain the heart of this passage about about Jesus sending the Holy Spirit to be our divine helper.  And we are going to start with verse 16, which says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever.”

Verse 15, which says, “If you love me, keep my commands,” suggests that Jesus will ask the Father to give the Counselor/Advocate only to those who truly love him and obey his Word.  Jesus uses the present tense in verse 15 to point out the need for a continuing attitude of love and obedience.

Jesus calls the Holy Spirit “another Counselor/Advocate,” just as Jesus himself had been for his disciples.  The title “Counselor/Advocate” translates the Greek “parakletos,” meaning literally “one called alongside to help.”  This a rich word that refers to a wide range of spiritual roles, such as Counselor, Strengthener, Comforter, Helper, Adviser, Advocate, Intercessor, Ally and Friend.  The Greek for “another” is “allon,” meaning “another of the same kind,” rather than “heteros,” meaning “another of a different kind.”  Therefore, the Holy Spirit, like Jesus, is also God and will continue what Christ himself did while on earth.  And we learn to two big things from this verse about the Holy Spirit.

  1. The Spirit is a personal being who will be by the disciples’ side to help and strengthen them, to teach them the truth and guide the course for their lives, to strengthen and comfort them in difficult situations, to intercede (to plead a case for them) through prayer, to be a friend who promotes their best interest and to remain with them forever.
  2. The word “parakletos” is applied to the Lord Jesus in 1 John 2:1.  Jesus is our helper and intercessor in heaven, while the Holy Spirit is our helper and intercessor on earth.

Now let’s turn our attention to verse 17, which says, “the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”

The Holy Spirit is called the “the Spirit of truth” because he is the Spirit of Jesus, who is the truth.  He testifies to the truth, enlightens people’s minds to the truth, exposes untruth and guides Jesus’ followers into all truth.  Those who are willing to sacrifice truth for the sake of convenience, popularity, love or any other reason are resisting and defying the Spirit of truth.  The church that abandons the truth abandons the Lord Jesus.  The Holy Spirit will not be the Counselor/Advocate of those who take faith in Christ for granted or are halfhearted in their commitment to the truth.  He comes alongside only to those who worship the Lord “in spirit and in truth.”

The Holy Spirit had been with the disciples, and Christ promises them that in the future he will “be in you.”  This promise that the Holy Spirit would live in and through Christ’s followers was initially fulfilled after Christ’s resurrection when Jesus breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  The Holy Spirit would also fill and empower their lives in a greater way following their experience on the day of Pentecost.

Now, finally, we come to verse 18, which says, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”  Jesus reveals himself and his personal presence to those who love and obey him through the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit makes us aware of the nearness of Jesus and the reality of his love, his blessing and his help.  This is one of the Spirit’s primary tasks.  The fact that Christ comes to us through the Spirit and blesses us with his presence should cause us to respond in love, worship and devotion.  And we will pick up from here tomorrow when we see Jesus’ last “I am” statement, that is found in the first part of John chapter 15.

Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:

1Kings 11:1-12:19, Acts 9:1-25, Psalm 131:1-3 and Proverbs 17:4-5

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