Friday 15 May 2020

John 14 v.12/21

In order to fully appreciate this gospel passage we must remember that Jesus is dining with His Apostles and knows He is about to face the Cross. He tells the Apostles that He was leaving them and though they would seek Him, they would not be able to find Him or come to Him. This revelation by Christ to His disciples devastated them.

But then in this passage Jesus is continuing to speak to His disciples and is now telling them that in His place they will have help in the form of the Holy Spirit. Jesus went on to explain to them that though He was leaving them He was leaving them in order to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house. And after He had done that He told them that He would return and take them back with Him. The good news for the men was that He would come back by means of the Spirit and would stay with them

In verse 12, Jesus told them that while they waited they would be doing the works that He had done and even greater works. This was proved when Peter preached his Pentecost sermon and 3,000 were converted as a result. This was more conversions at any one time than Jesus Himself had made.

Jesus goes on to say that praying in His name would make it possible. When we pray in the name of Jesus, it means that we want to obey Him, seeking of what He would approve, and wanting to pray as Jesus Himself would pray if He was with us. Jesus promised that if we ask Him for anything in His
name, He will do it, for this will give praise to God His Father.

Jesus said, ‘if we love Him and obey Him, He will ask God to give us a Comforter, in other words help, and that help will be for all time.Love is a word which can have a shallow meaning. Men and women swear they will love one another, but so often there is unfaithfulness, and in the same way Christians can say they love Jesus, then, by their way of living totally betray Him by their disobedience. Obedience means living our lives according to the teaching by Jesus, which we find in the pages of the New Testament. He makes the point that if we do truly love Him, we will have no difficulty in obeying Him.

Jesus tells His disciples when He leaves them they will not be alone for God will send another who will stay and never leave them. He refers to the Holy Spirit as the ‘Comforter’, and just as God sent Jesus, He is sending the Holy Spirit who will help them to do their mission in the same way as He did.

Jesus will be in heaven continually making intercession for them, from His seated position at the right hand of the throne of God, but they would also have the Holy Spirit right alongside of them in every situation that they would ever face, whether or not that situation was good or bad. The Spirit will lead us into all truth, and by truth we mean understanding the mind of God.

He indicates that the Holy Spirit is someone other than Himself, and is only given once and it is not a repeated experience. Some people have believed receiving the Spirit is like going with a car to a filling station and constantly topping up, but Jesus makes it clear this is not so, which Paul and Peter will stress in their Epistles.

Jesus tells His disciples they are to go on doing the things He commanded and the Holy Spirit will help them to do so.  He goes on to say the Holy Spirit will live in them and will be in all Jesus’ followers for all time. When He returns to heaven to His Father, the Holy Spirit will take His place to
create a relationship with God, so uniting Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the Trinity.

There has always been difficulty in people’s minds in understanding the person and work of the Holy Spirit. If asked most people would be able to say who God the Father was; who Jesus the Son was; but many would find themselves struggling to answer who God the Holy Spirit was. Often people describe the Holy Spirit as ‘it’, referring more to a form of power when in fact ‘He’ is the right word; Jesus clearly refers to Him’, in verse 17.

The word helper in the biblical sense literally means, ‘called to the side of.’ During His time here the Apostles had lived with Jesus and He had always been there to help them in every kind of situation and experience. He had been able to rejoice in the good times and comfort them in the bad.
As an example to those now faced with Christian teaching, He told them not always what they wanted to hear so much as what they needed to hear. And Jesus is now assuring them that even though He would not be there for them physically in the future as He had been there for them in the past, another helper was going to be supplied for them by His Father.

He reassures them that they will continue to see Him by means of the Spirit and even know Him more deeply after the experience of Pentecost. In the lives of many Christians there is a new spiritual experience after they have made a commitment to Christ, which is the gift of the Spirit.
Jesus said the world at large cannot receive the Holy Spirit.

In today’s society God has little relevance, if any, in many people’s lives, and anyone so minded to exclude Him will not have that gift of the Spirit which God is graciously providing; that gift is only for the believers in Christ.

This is a motive for Christian believers to bring those they love to know Christ in the way they do, for belief is not something one inherits, it is decision time for all.

Through the amazing grace of God, the disciples had by faith come to experience the Spirit, but from thereon they would experience this much more because the Spirit would live with them. Jesus said after Pentecost they would know that He was in His Father, and they would be in Him.

Jesus was explaining that when we turn to Him we join a family, we become children of God, and Jesus said to them, "I will not abandon or leave you as orphans in a storm; I will come to you." In just a little while I will be gone from the world, but I will still be present with you. He did not mean His resurrection; He was speaking of coming to them in the person of the Holy Spirit who would indwell them.  If we do nott through disobedience or sin offend, then we will with the eyes of faith be able to
see our resurrected Lord living in us and through us.

One of His disciples asked Him why He was only going to reveal Himself to them and not to the world at large. Jesus replied that He would only reveal Himself to those who loved Him. By that He meant those who would keep His commandments, and pray to Him, something unbelievers will not do. If anyone doesn’t obey Him they obviously cannot love Him.

Jesus says the gift cannot be for the world because it will not accept Him or seek to know Him. There appears a sustained attempt made by government, judiciary and educationalists to keep God out of life, although you are allowed to refer to Allah. You are not supposed to speak or mention the name of God unless in a profane manner, and whilst no credit is allowed to be given to God, He gets plenty of blame when any disaster occurs. In America it appears to be worse than here as their Civil Liberties Union seeks to exclude all religion from public life.

Once again Jesus is calling for full commitment on behalf of His followers, and by those words we must presume that love comes before obedience. A true Christian is one who has been drawn to Christ through a sincere desire to live as Jesus taught, and because of the sacrifice Jesus made. There are people who claim to be Christians for unworthy reasons; to advance business, to get in with the right set of people.

Some years ago it was learned that a very senior Officer in the Liverpool Police attended a Methodist Church in one part of the city. It amazed people how many policemen suddenly realised they were Methodists at heart.

At Pentecost the Church became born, a community of people who believed in Jesus Christ; people who belong to one family of God and to each other as well.

This tremendous event of the giving of the Holy Spirit, which saw eleven frightened men restrained from preaching, turn into new personalities strengthened to go forward boldly witnessing in Jerusalem and throughout the ancient world, has been followed over 2,000 years of human history. In that period men and women with brilliant minds, have been ready to forego the opportunity of earning large incomes in order to serve their Lord, often in the most primitive conditions. Such people do not do this without great motivation. Thus we can fully believe that Jesus knew what he was talking about when He said ‘you will do great things in my name.'

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