Help for the Hard Times
Keys for Spiritual Survival -
A Study on The Gospel of John, Chapters Fourteen through Sixteen
Part One - Chapter Fourteen
Jesus and His disciples had just shared their last supper together. Judas had withdrawn himself from their company to fulfill his prophesied role as Jesus’ betrayer. The remaining eleven men were the true remnant that were about to experience a time of excruciating sorrow, distress and ultimately a season of intense persecution.
Jesus had only a short time to prepare them for what was to come and His instructions to them and us are found in chapters fourteen through sixteen of John’s Gospel.
Every believer has faced or will face challenges as a follower of Jesus. Our Lord’s words to the disciples He loved, are keys to help us endure the hard times that are an inevitable part of life on a planet writhing in the wake of mankind’s sin and rebellion.
So we take our place with the other disciples in this upper room of communion with our Lord. We are like children; wondering, innocent of what the immediate future has in store. But the One who holds the future knows and the first thing He tells us to prepare us for this journey is – “Believe.”
“Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in Me” (14:1).
Keep your faith, children, for in it is your future.
He proceeds to tell us that –
“In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (14:2,3).
He is giving us hope. He is telling us to believe that there is something tangible waiting for us beyond the temporary confines of this earthly life, because, as the Apostle Paul says – “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Hebrews 13:14). But we can depend on the fact that we have "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you," (I Peter 1:4). - So that no matter what losses we must incur in this life, our true treasure is in heaven and that’s where Jesus wants our hearts and minds to be as well; "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:21).The Apostle Paul reminds us again– “If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1,2).
The Apostle Paul continues to remind us to look forward to the time “when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4).
When the storms of this life are raging around us, spinning our dreams into rubble, we have a hope, a future; a safe and secure eternity to look forward to, and a secure dwelling place all our own in the warm, safe mansion of God’s design.
We watch Jesus smiling at us and He says – “And where I am going you know, and the way (how to get there) you know” – (14:4).
This is something we are supposed to know. The students are looking at each other, slightly bewildered. It’s okay to ask a question in this classroom, so Thomas asks – “Lord, we don’t know where You are going- (he’s honest) so how can we know the way?” (14:5).
Jesus strolls over to Thomas’ desk and answers all of us as He looks at His bewildered pupil.
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me” (14:6).
Jesus pauses. He wants us to chew on this one for awhile before He continues. To help us understand we find ourselves suddenly beholding a beautiful scarlet red key. It’s fashioned in the shape of a cross. It sparkles like a jewel and we know this key is priceless.
As it comes closer to our understanding we begin to see pictures in its facets. We see it being forged in Genesis from the blood of the first sacrifice that clothed Adam and Eve with forgiveness (Genesis 3:21).
It was in the blood of the lamb that Abel offered to God that made his choice of offering acceptable (Genesis 4:4).
It is found in the blood of the ram that was offered in place of Abraham’s son (Genesis 22).
It is in the blood of the Passover lamb that shimmered upon the doorposts of the houses of God’s people to save them from the plague of death that ravaged the land of Egypt (Exodus 12:21-23).
It was in every offering made upon the altar in the tabernacle because ; “The life is in the blood,” and God has given it to make atonement for the soul – (Leviticus 17:11) - because without blood there can be no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22).
And this precious key pours forth from the veins of the Messiah, the unblemished Passover offering, the offering that is described for us through the mouth of God’s prophet Isaiah – “He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities and with His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5); Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief: when Thou shall make His soul an offering for sin…" (Isaiah 53:10).
This wondrous jewel is the key to the door of the mansion of our eternity. Only Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life can give us this key. It is the key of atonement. It is the most valuable possession in existence. We can’t afford to lose it. It is so valuable we know we must guard it with our lives.
We clasp it to our hearts and it dissolves within our beings to become part of us, embracing our souls with the gift of eternal life.
As we contemplate this astounding treasure, we know we don’t have to understand all the intricate facets of this jewel to possess it, we are only required to believe it. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
We have all been left speechless and amazed. Then Jesus continues His response to Thomas’ question.
“If you had known Me, you should have known My Father also; and from now on, you know Him and have seen Him” (14:7).
We had all heard Jesus say this before when He was talking to the Pharisees (John 8:19). Jesus had told us that God is Spirit (John 4:24); One Spirit and spirits are invisible. So how could we see the Father? Peter, John and James had seen Moses and Elijah appear miraculously when they were alone with Jesus on the mountain (Matthew 17:1-8). Was Phillip thinking we all might be transported into God’s presence when he asked Jesus exuberantly, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us!” (14:8).
Jesus turned and gazed at him with an expression that can only be described as solemn amusement. We were all startled when Jesus’ voice declared – “Have I been such a long time with you, and yet you have not known Me, Philip?" (14:9).
There was an ethereal, holy resonance in those words. Suddenly it was as if we were all standing before the burning bush with Moses, and I had an overwhelming desire to take off my shoes.
Then Jesus’ voice returned to normal as He spoke – “He who has seen Me has seen the Father, so how can you say, ‘show us the Father?’” (14:9).
He looked at us all earnestly, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?” (14:10).
This was all new to us, we weren’t sure at the moment.
“The words I speak to you,” He continued, “are not from Me; but the Father that dwells in Me, He does the works” (14:10).
We looked at this man Jesus, who had just announced that He was the container for the God that fills the universe. This was a lot to digest. God the Father is Spirit. He fills the universe and beyond; I guess if this omnipresent unlimited Spirit can do that, He can be in the same room with all of us and in His Son through His Spirit at the same time.
The Apostle Paul said God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself – II Corinthians 5:19, - and that Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9).
Okay, God the Father can be in a man. We didn’t realize that we were all being prepared to receive another important key of spiritual survival. But before we continue, let’s review some of the keys we have already been given.
1. “Believe.” Keep the faith, no matter what happens to you in this life. Your faith is your future.
2. Keep your mind on things above. Everything on earth is temporal. Heaven is eternal.
3. Treasure the atonement. It is the key to your mansion in heaven. If you lose it, you can’t get in, because no one comes to the Father except through Jesus, the Messiah.
Jesus is about to give us key number four. He continues – “Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me; or else believe Me for the very works sake” (14:11).
He is saying to us that He and His Father are an inseparable unit, and the great miracles He performed are an evidence of that fact. We can remain with Jesus and His disciples in that upper room contained within the pages of God’s Word, while we thumb our way to the immediate future contained in the book of Acts where we read this confirmation that the works Jesus did were done by God the Father through Him, working by His Spirit in concert with His Son (Acts 2:22). (NOTE:The unity of the Father in the Son by His Spirit operating in concert as one, is the illustration of the basic principle of Trinitarianism, that the Three are an inseparable unit. Each is the totality of the other, meaning that we cannot have one with out the other. When we separate them, or place too great a distinction between them, we fall into the error of tritheism, which is the worship of three individual gods/persons that are one. God is one Spirit (John 4:24) therefore all three, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the same Spirit.)
We look back at Jesus and He is looking at us as if to say, “Are you getting this? I am not alone in here.”
We had heard Him say it before in another place – “I and My Father are one” – John 10:30.
And as the history of our new relationship with God through Christ continues to unfold, we hear Jesus’ future words to His disciples echo in our hearts, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world”– (Matthew 28:20). If any man opens the door, I will come in and sup with Him and He with Me” (Revelation 3:20).
We have just been given key number four - No matter what we must endure in this life, we are not going to be alone in there either, although at this point in Jesus’ instructions to us, we are not quite sure how this is to be accomplished. He is planting seeds in us, one tiny miracle of faith at a time.
He continues; “Truly, truly, I say to you, he that believes on Me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do because I go to the Father” (14:12).
We still have a thumb in the book of Acts, specifically the second chapter, when God’s Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples anointing them with tremendous power and boldness. Jesus wants us to know that it is God’s will for His people to be empowered to accomplish what He has ordained for us to do. We have supernatural help and reinforcement for the hard times.
This leads us to key number five – it is vitally important that we do not quench the Spirit in any way - (I Thessalonians 5:19). We are not our own, we belong to God through faith in the atonement and it is the height of prideful audacity to refuse to let God lead us as He so chooses through His Spirit. Our attitude should be, “Lord, whatever You want. If You want to fill me with Your Spirit do so, not my will but Thine be done.” We cannot accomplish His will if we are willfully following our own wills and disobey Him in this area. Submission to the leading of the indwelling Holy Spirit within us is vital for our protection and the ability to live holy, obedient lives to glorify God. The power and anointing that He bestowed upon His disciples in Acts 2, is the same anointing that He desires to bestow upon His church today. Make no mistake, when the word of God declares that the gifts and calling of God are without repentance (Romans 11:29) it means that they cannot be recalled, they are always there. We do not appropriate them because of false teaching against the baptism of the Spirit. The word says that Jesus came to baptize us with the Holy Spirit (John 1:33). Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), thus what He bestows upon us is also the same yesterday, today and forever.
Therefore, when Jesus says that we will do the same works that He did, it is only through the baptism of the Holy Spirit and because we are obedient to Him in this area He says, “And whatever you shall ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son (14:13). If you ask anything in My name I will do it” (14:14).
The power that Jesus has and is, is there for us to meet our needs and the needs of others. We have to remember that Jesus is speaking to His disciples. Are all believers disciples?
Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, I know them and they follow Me” (John 10:27). This is the basic description of a disciple – they hear and understand His word, He knows them; that is, there is an ongoing relationship between the Lord and the believer, and they follow Him. Jesus does not lead those who are following Him into sin, but into holiness and obedience to God’s word. We hear Jesus speaking these words to His disciples, “If you love Me keep My commandments” (14:15).
This is key number six. Obey His word. If we love Him and are following Him, then the natural result of that relationship is obedience. And apparently He is also telling us that the blessings of answered prayer are contingent upon obedience. –
“whatever you shall ask in My name, that I will do,” (14:14). It’s an important concept, and like any good teacher Jesus is going to repeat these instructions to us again because He wants to make sure we get it; but before He begins to hammer it home a few more times, He recognizes the trembling anxiety His words have temporarily induced into our fragile beings. Commandment keeping has never been an easy thing for us humans to do, no matter how well intentioned we may be. We have this thing called “the flesh” that keeps getting in our way. We know we love Him, and we want to be obedient children. Right now we are all gathered around Him afraid to express our trepidation in the words – “We can’t do this.”
He knows that. So He says, -
“And I will pray the Father , and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; (14:16) even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it sees Him not, neither knows Him, but you know Him….”
Wait a minute we’re thinking. How can we know Him if, as Jesus just said the Comforter He’s promising hasn’t been sent yet?
“…for He dwells with you…”
He’s dwelling with us? We’re looking at Jesus who is the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9) as He finishes, “and shall be in you (14:17). I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you” (14:18).
Here we have to stop and take a deep breath; this is supernatural stuff that we humans aren’t exactly used to. “He that is with us, will be in us.” It will take us all sometime to learn that we are being made a “habitation of God” (Ephesians 2:22) through His Spirit – the same Holy Spirit that is also the Spirit that is in His Son (Romans 8:9). And this same Holy Spirit that Jesus has come to baptize us with through faith in the atonement, can give us the ability to obey and be the disciples we are called to be. Through this same Spirit of the Father (Matthew 10:20) that is in the Son, we can also heal the sick and do the works of Christ – that is again – if we do not quench the Spirit as we previously have mentioned concerning key number five. But at this point, we are all still in grade school it seems. The children are looking at each other now, somewhat bewildered by the enormity of it all.
Jesus is being very patient with us. He continues – “Yet a little while, and the world sees Me no more, but you see Me because I live you shall live also” (14:19).
Remember when He said to us that we have that eternal mansion? If we don’t get it now, He knows we’ll all understand at the door of His empty tomb…”At that day”…when the meaning of His words, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25) hit home, and we fully comprehend that death can’t threaten us; “At that day you shall know that I am in the Father, and you in Me and I in you,” (14:20),…because the Holy Spirit of the Son, Jesus’ Spirit, will be in us crying “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6).
He will not leave us comfortless, He will come to us, and sup with us and we with Him (Revelation 3:20). This again is key number four; – we are not alone in this. We have been given supernatural help. Just as Jesus’ Father is in Him, so the Father and the Son indwell us through their Spirit (14:23).
We can walk above the waters of this life and get the strength we need to resist sin.
He can tell our anxiety has dwindled and it’s safe to tell us again – “He that has My commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves Me, and he that loves Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him” (14:21).
Jesus’ brother Jude has a question. – “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us and not the world?” (14:22).
Jesus looks at him intently. “If a man loves Me he will keep My words; and My Father will love him…” (Oh, I get it! The world does not love Him. So Jesus does not manifest Himself to those who will reject Him, or those He knows are not His. )…”and We will come into him and make our abode with him”(14:23).
In other words, the Holy Spirit that is the Spirit of the Father (Matthew 10:20) and the Spirit of the Son, (Romans 8:9) the very presence of God will indwell the believer and the evidence of this communion that is lost to an unbelieving world, will be the proof to the redeemed of the reality of God. So when we are challenged to prove our faith, we can tell them that when they can believe, God will prove Himself. We don’t see to believe, we believe and then we see.
We’re all starting to feel a bit giddy at this point. Then our Teacher reminds us again, “He that does not love Me, does not keep My sayings"...( We can hear the Apostle John tell us that no one who sins, meaning in the original Greek 'continuously practices' sin, has ever seen Him or known Him, - I John 3:6). ... and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s that sent Me” (14:24).
He has told us this before, that His words were the words of the Father. Every sentence that Jesus’ spoke from His sermon on the mount, to His declarations to the Apostle John on Patmos in the book of Revelation, are the words and the Voice of God the Father.
The Old Testament has been eloquently summarized for us throughout the pages of the New. Love God, love people – (Matthew 22:37-40). Someday the Apostle John would pen the words for us – “And His commandments are not grievous" (heavy, burdensome) - I John 5:3.
Again Jesus is reminding us of key number six - obedience to His word, is our protection. When we sin we open the door to demonic attack. Sin always has consequences that will destroy our witness and set us back on our journey to fulfill our purpose in Him.
We watch Jesus as He begins to gather up His cloak. He’s getting ready to leave and He is talking to us as He prepares.
“These things I have spoken to you, being present with you (14:25). But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring everything I have said to you to your remembrance” (14:26).
We were all relieved to hear that because nobody was writing anything down at the time.
He had just finished wrapping His cloak around His body when He turned to look at us again, and said, “Peace.”
What a beautiful word.
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you...”
That fruit of the Holy Spirit that is His and is Him, will be ours…”Not as the world gives, give I to you.”
His peace isn’t temporary, it is everlasting.
“Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (14:27).
As we begin to search through the next few pages of Jesus’ instructions to help us through the hard times, we will see that the three main fruits of the Holy Spirit; love, joy and peace, are given to us by Jesus. These are the fruits that through His Holy Spirit are needed in order for us to feel secure. Jesus wants us to be secure, for it is through the basic root of insecurity that most of our failings will arise. And we need this basic foundation from which all the other fruits of His Spirit will develop.
We’ve all stood there at the beginning in that upper room, wondering what’s going to happen next as Jesus says –
“You have heard how I said to you, ‘I go away, and come again to you...” - We didn’t want Him to leave us, and this reminder was filling us with sorrow.
“If you loved Me you would rejoice, because I said, “I go to the Father…”
Yeah, but in order to do that You have to die? How can we rejoice when we lose a loved one?
At this point the disciples still don’t understand the part where He said, “I go away and come again to you.” The fear He’s been trying to alleviate in us is creeping back again.
“…for My Father is greater than I (14:28).”
He’s saying - going to the Father is the divine goal, My children. For in His presence is fullness of joy, at His right hand are pleasures for evermore (Psalm 16:11).
“And now I have told you before it comes to pass, that, when it is come to pass you might believe” (14:29).
Is He is saying that, somehow, all the painful things that we have to endure in this life are all working together to bring us to the point of supreme belief, sublime overcoming faith?
“From now on I will not talk with you much…”
Time is running out…
“…for the prince of this world comes and has nothing in Me…” (14:30).
The devil has nothing in us either. We have a mutual enemy.
“But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I will do it ”
So the world will know that God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life- John 3:16.
“Arise, let us go from here” (14:31).
Are we just leaving the room, or are we going on to another level of instruction? Maybe both.
For the joy set before Him, (Hebrews 12:2) we watch Jesus open the door and begin His walk toward the cross.
Before we continue, let's review the keys four, five and six.
4 - No matter what you are going through, you are not alone. If you have received Jesus, His Spirit which is the Father's Holy Spirit is in you (Romans 8:9).
5. - Don't quench the Spirit. You need God's Spirit to direct you, protect you and give you the gifts and the power to minister effectively and to lead a holy life that glorifies God.
6. - Obey. Obedience to God's word and the leading of His Holy Spirit is the key to blessings and protection. God is leading us forward, every act of disobedience hinders our progress, blocks our blessings and opens us up to demonic attack.
Part Two - Chapter Fifteen
We are on our way to a lovely garden by a brook (John 18:1). Jesus is teaching us as we walk together.
“I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Husbandman” (15:1).
Suddenly everything around us is very green and filled with life. We remember Jesus telling us that He is the only way to the Father. Jesus is the True Vine that connects us to God the Husbandman, the Ultimate Gardener. God the Father births us through Jesus, and as we grow in Him, God the husbandman tends to us through Jesus.
Jesus says, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away…”
This is a warning, which is key number seven to our spiritual survival - we are not to take our walk with Jesus lightly. He wants us to know that there are consequences if we do. We remember Him telling us that every plant that His heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted out (Matthew 15:13). We remember the hardened looks of those Pharisees, who professed to know God, but knew Him not, for they had rejected Jesus as the Messiah. Anyone who is not abiding in the True Vine cannot bear fruit that is pleasing to God the Father. “And every branch that bears fruit, He purges it, (cleanses of filth and impurity, prunes, cuts off the useless) that it may bring forth more fruit”(15:2).
Jesus is grinning at His students, seeing our futures, our trials and difficult circumstances that are engineered to cultivate a crop that is well pleasing to God.
“Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken to you” (15:3).
We are washed by the water of His word (Ephesians 5:26). His word has seeded and watered the soil of our hearts. We have at this moment, the exciting prospect of a new beginning; the anticipation of the Husbandman’s workmanship in our lives.
“Abide in Me,” Jesus says, “And I in you” – His Holy Spirit is the living sap that causes us to grow. This is also key number eight - we cannot survive spiritually unless we abide in the Vine and maintain a continuous, intimate relationship with God through His Son.
“As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the Vine; no more can you, except you abide in Me (15:4). I am the Vine, you are the branches; he that abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (15:5).
Right now we are all feeling very connected to the Godhead. The Spirit of God flows into us through our Jesus. We can see the indications of this union of Father and Son in us sprouting elements of God’s Holy Character from the cultivated soil of our souls.
Oh my, these sprouts are so delicate and vulnerable. They can be trampled upon very easily as we know they must be guarded and fenced from the pollutions and the predators of this world. We need to keep our guard up in this life, if we don’t we have much to lose…
“If a man does not abide (remain) in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered,...”
How sad, we think, those poor, withered branches, sapless, lifeless, yet possibly filling pews every Sunday thinking that’s all there is…
“And men gather them” – (they are carried about by every wind of doctrine and man’s philosophy that will ultimately lead to the denial of their faith) …and cast them into the fire and they are burned (15:6).(ultimately rejected by their Lord).
We can see the flames in our minds, of lives destroyed by disbelief. He allows us to ponder these flames for a while until the bonfire diminishes into a meager pile of lifeless, useless ashes. The ashes dissolve as His words begin to paint our world in green again, and the blackness of withered failure disappears.
“If…” We hear Him speak this word again and realize that we have a choice. At this point we have been instilled with an acute level of godly, protective, constructive, holy and reverent – fear. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you…” At this moment I have made a personal commitment not to substitute or subordinate God’s words with anyone else’s…“You shall ask what you will, and it shall be done to you” (15:7).
He pauses. He wants us to think about this one for awhile. Immediately we feel a delightful surge like little children being promised all they want at Christmas. When our carnal immaturity begins to subside, we realize that this promise is being made to His disciples, people who are “abiding” in Him, who are submitted to the Husbandman’s Farming Co-op – He farms, we co-operate. The goal of this union ultimately leads to the conforming of our wills to His.
Jesus sets the example of a Soul that is in perfect harmony and union with His Father’s will at all times. “Not My will, but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42). “I always do the things that please Him” (John 8:29). We begin to see that the presents under the tree are there for us to joyfully give back to Him by serving others. He is smiling as He watches our desires slowly begin to change and the tender sprouts He has planted rise upward another inch.
“This is how My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit: so you shall be My disciples” (15:8). So we shall be. We’re not all there yet, He knows that. But He is patient. He wants us to be patient like Him. It’s one of the fruits we are learning about. We gaze at our little soul-fields and feel frustrated that our crop seems to be developing so slowly. Are they stunted? Something is blocking their development. We look to Jesus for help. “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you…” (That’s a lot of love) … “You continue in My love” (15:9).
This is something we have to practice. Suddenly we all find ourselves sitting together as an orchestra. Jesus is our conductor. We all have different instruments, yet they make the same sound. At His direction we begin to play a love song. The music and the words merge as one. It is the most beautiful music ever heard. The Song is the Gospel. It unites us and its music revives us. We want to hear it over and over again. We need to play it as loudly as we can so everyone can hear it. “For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son…” (John 3:16).
As the music is soaring we hear our conductor singing, “If you keep My commandments you shall abide in My love…” The Apostle John is the tenor in the background who reminds us again that His commandments are not grievous (heavy or burdensome) - (I John 5:3); … "even as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love” (15:10).
The Song is moving our feet in the same direction and we are dancing. We are being moved by His Spirit like a bride in love with her husband who delights to please Him. “These things I have spoken to you that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (15:11).
He is exuberant. The music is building into a crescendo. The notes rise above our heads and then to our surprise they begin to fall back down upon us as rain drops and as the rain drops descend we feel them transform themselves into fire and we find ourselves filled with a refreshing new zeal.
We’re back on the path with Him now. What has happened? Something is different. We look back to the crops in our souls and to our delight they are starting to grow again.
It’s very quiet now, and in the stillness His Spirit teaches us and we know. So far in the course of His instruction to us He has mentioned the first three fruits of His Spirit, Love (15:9), joy (15:11),and peace (14:27). These are fruits of His Spirit and we know that there are nine all together – love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, moderation (Galatians 5:22,23). But in order for the other fruits to develop, we need to be given the fruit of His love first above all. “This is My commandment…”
Suddenly all of His commandments have merged into just one –"That you love one another, as I have loved you (15:12). Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends "(15:13).
We find ourselves looking at each other, wondering if we have it in ourselves at this point to give our lives for the person standing next to us, or sitting in the pew beside us. Yet this is the love that Jesus requires – a love that has the word ‘sacrifice’ attached to it. We know as the gift of His love simmers in our souls and the tender crop within us that is slowly being nurtured by that Holy fire continues to grow, what seems impossible to us now, might not be so difficult as the children we are, mature into the image of who God has destined for us to be.
Jesus continues – “You are My friends if... (there’s that "if" word again)... if you do whatever I command you” (15:14). “From now on I call you not servants; for the servant does not know what his Lord does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known to you” (15:15).
Jesus has called His disciples “friends”. We pause to let the magnitude of that word begin to sink in. The God of the universe called Abraham His friend and suddenly we find ourselves in his company. Abraham believed in the Lord, and God counted it to him for righteousness – Genesis 15:6; and that faith produced a natural obedience that was born from love – “Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statues, and My laws " – Genesis 26:5.
We hear these words that God spoke to His friend and Jesus repeats – “My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me" – John 10:27.
As Abraham followed the Father, and God knew that “he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment "– Genesis 18:19; we suddenly realize that we are being called into a relationship with God that transcends religion. Through Jesus, we are being restored to the relationship that God shared with Abraham. He has called us friends. And as friends it is our desire to please Him, just like Abraham pleased God by living his life according to God's word.
Jesus goes on to tell us that – “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it to you” (15:16).
He is giving us a purpose and a promise that we will bring forth fruit for His glory- and anything we ask to help us accomplish His purposes will be given us. Our obedience carries with it great blessings just as Abraham’s obedience resulted in his seed springing up in multitudes that could not be numbered. Our obedience will fill God’s kingdom with multitudes of souls.
The Husbandman has been tending His crop through His words. He’s been pulling weeds, fertilizing and watering us, and now because it is our desire to abide in this garden, we can be reminded once again,
“These things I command you, that you love one another” (15:17).
We are growing, and now we know that through His help we can keep this one.
Jesus pauses. He’s looking at us all. He has laid the foundation of security in our souls of His love, joy and peace. He knows that we are going to need those fruits in order to survive.
Jesus’ expression has turned strangely serious. The light around us is slowly fading, giving place to a descending darkness. It is getting harder to see the path up ahead, but Jesus knows the way very well, and we follow as He continues speaking.
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you (15:18). If you were of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” - (15:19).
He is telling us what to expect. A true disciple of Jesus is not going to be popular.
The Apostle Paul agrees – “Yes, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” - II Timothy 3:12.
Paul also reminds us that the glorious life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ is a smell of “death unto death”– II Corinthians 15,16, to those whose pride and self-will forbids them to kneel humbly at our Lord’s feet to receive His free gift of forgiveness. So we have to remember that the Good News isn’t good news for some, and we must expect repercussions and rejection as a result of our obedience to declare the Truth.
Jesus continues –
“Remember the word that I said to you, the servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they have kept My sayings, they will keep yours also” (15:20).
The Apostle Peter also tells us from his experience - "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, happy are you; for the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified "– I Peter 4:12-14.
We stop a moment to meditate on the path before us. We remember that day when we were among a large crowd that was following Jesus. He stopped suddenly and turned to ask us all to “eat My flesh and drink My blood” (John 6:53). And this command to ingest Him, to commit fully to Him, caused the majority of His followers to abandon Him, leaving only a small remnant of true disciples (John 6:66).
As we look at the darkness waiting for us in the distance, we know our feet cannot leave this narrow path, for we have recognized that only Jesus has the words of eternal life (John 6:68).
Jesus continues to give us the reason for the rejection of His Light –“But all these things will they do to you for My name’s sake because they do not know Him that sent Me” (15:21).
There are multitudes of religions in the world that profess a faith in some god; when the Gospel is presented to those of other faiths, the wave of rejection that sometimes arises against those who proclaim God’s truth, is the evidence of the falsehood of belief systems that are inspired by the frailty of mere men. By this rejection, we are reminded that the Messiah is the representation of the One True God (John 17:3), and it is only through Him can we come to the One True God of Abraham (John 14:6).
Jesus said that He would be sending a sword upon this earth (Matthew 10:34) because wherever falsehood abounds the Truth will be divisive. It is a spiritual law, like gravity – whatever goes up must come down, so likewise, whenever the Truth invades darkness it will divide like lightning in a midnight sky.
Here we realize we are being given key number nine – Be prepared for persecution. Do not be afraid of it. Let it refine you in its fires. -
"That the trial of your faith being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" – I Peter 1:7.
We look at our Lord and suddenly feel our love and devotion for Him rise up within us like a comforting shield.
We listen as Jesus continues –
“If I had not come and spoken to them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin” (15:22).
There is no excuse for rejecting the Truth, now that the truth has been revealed.
“He that hates Me, hates My Father also” (15:23).
We are reminded here that Jesus and the Father are one (John 10:30). We can’t have one without the other, nor love one without the other. We can’t profess a love for God and reject His Son without rejecting the Father as well. God has ordained this test: that salvation can only be obtained through the means that He has ordained, and any soul that has been given knowledge of Jesus and rejects Him, is also rejecting any possibility of salvation. Thus, the soul that has been exposed to the Gospel message and rejects it has no covering for sin.
“If I had not done among them the works which no other man has done, they had not had sin; but now have they both seen and hated both Me and My Father" (15:24). But this comes to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause’” (Psalm 69:4) – (15:25).
We realize here that previously Jesus had been warning us about being rejected by the world, now He is telling us that we will also be rejected by His own people, and this today also implies a rejection by those who profess a belief in Christ, but possibly not according to God’s word.
Jesus came to His people, the Jews, and exposed Himself, the Truth, to the religious leadership of His day, who at the time were continuing to add laws and ordinances to what God had originally ordained through Moses, drawing God’s people into religious bondage. This is why Jesus said that they “bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders” (Matthew 23:4). Likewise, whenever a denomination within the Christian camp begins to deviate from what the Scriptures actually teach and begins to follow the “doctrines of men” (Matthew 15:9, Isaiah 29:13) and not the words of our Lord and His apostles, those who are teaching the word of God in simplicity and are not adhering to man-inspired doctrine, will face discrimination and rejection by these followers of man who are also professing Christ. This is all part of the prophesied apostasy. Paul warned us that there would come a time when people would not endure sound doctrine (II Timothy 4:3). We can be assured that those who are teaching sound doctrine; that is what Jesus and His apostles actually taught, will face, and are facing persecution in these last days.
The Apostle Peter warns us of a time when there would be those false teachers in the Christian camp who would bring in “damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them” (II Peter 2:1).
We are purchased or ‘bought’ (redeemed) by God through the atonement; “The precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, who truly was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifested in these last times for you, who by Him do believe in God that raised Him up from the dead and gave Him glory: that your faith and hope might be in God” (I Peter 1:19-21).
It is only through the foreordained atonement that salvation can be obtained; therefore the “One Way” of Christianity will come under fire and “The way of truth shall be evil spoken of” (II Peter 2:2) - through the proliferation of false teachers, “tares among the wheat” (Matthew 13:24-30) within the Christian church.
The Christians, who adhere to the “Way of Truth” as taught by Jesus and His apostles, will experience vehement rejection by those who have embraced the false liberal theology of those “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15).
We pause for a moment to take a deep breath and reflect on what Jesus has been preparing us for, a coming persecution. At this point His disciples can only begin to imagine what that persecution will be like.
Jesus will continue on this theme in chapter sixteen, but at this moment He stops to remind us of key number four again; that we will never be alone, no matter what we are going through. -
"But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, Who proceeds from the Father, He shall testify of Me" - (15:26).
The wonderful Holy Spirit of the Father and the Son (Romans 8:9) will be in the believer affirming our faith and giving us the ability to stand strong and testify before those who deny the Truth.
Jesus is smiling at us now. Is He seeing us somewhere in the dark future boldly proclaiming His words in the power of His Holy Spirit? Is He rejoicing at the victory of lives that will not deny Him even in the face of unspeakable suffering as He says;
"And you also shall bear witness because you have been with Me from the beginning.” (15:27).
The original disciples, those who have been with Him from the beginning, are trustworthy bearers of the Truth. They are eyewitnesses of "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life" (I John 1:1). We can trust their testimony and their instructions. And we are warned to be on guard against those who have departed from following them and the sound doctrine they proclaim. "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us"( I John 2:19).
Before we proceed to chapter sixteen, let’s review the keys we have received from chapter fifteen –
Key number seven –
Do not take your walk with Jesus lightly or for granted. There are consequences for disobeying God and no believer is immune to the Father’s disciplines; for if we are truly His children we will endure His chastening for our benefit. - "For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chastens not?
But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are you bastards,(illegitimate) and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness.
Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby" – Hebrews 12:6-11.
Key number eight - Abide in the Vine - remember without Jesus you can do nothing.
Key number nine –
Be prepared for rejection and persecution for declaring the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Through the darkness we are treading, Jesus’ voice leads us confidently toward the future. He reminds us again of what to expect, preparing us as a general would his troops.
“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be offended,” (16:1).
Love is not easily offended, or provoked (I Corinthians 13:5). If we are abiding in His love as we should, then He enables us to respond to persecution just as Jesus would, and turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39).
“They shall put you out of the synagogues: yes the time comes that whoever kills you will think that he does God service” (16:2).
Today there are more Christians being martyred than at any other time in history. It is estimated that from one hundred thousand to three hundred thousand believers every year join the ranks of those who refuse to deny Jesus even when threatened with death. Many of those deaths are at the hands of those who, as Jesus said, “Think they are doing God service.” This only goes to prove the validity of Jesus’ words and the fact that they do not know the God they profess to worship.
“And these things will they do to you, because they have not known the Father nor Me (16:3).
“But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, you may remember that I told you of them…”
Remember – you are being prepared to bring God’s word into the devil’s world and in many cases to churches where the devil has sown false or compromised doctrine.
“…And these things I did not say to you at the beginning because I was with you” (16:4).
Jesus is emphasizing the rejection His disciples will face because He is about to fulfill His divine purpose for coming into this world. He did not need to emphasize their coming persecution when He was with them physically, but now as the darkness around them has begun to blacken their view of everything else, it is imperative that His disciples be able to stand without the visible presence of the Lord in their midst. We are all about to be catapulted into a higher degree of faith.
“But now I go My way to Him that sent Me;”….He has just told us that He is going back to Him that sent Him, and He wonders – “…and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are you going?” (16:5).
He had told us before that someday He would leave us. As we sensed that time approaching, none of us were in the mood to ask Him where He was going and He felt our sorrow along with us.
“But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart” (16:6).
We loved Him. The thought of losing Him was more than we could bear. Grieving with us, He replied to our hearts: –
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you” (16:7).
We may not have realized it at the time, but we were being told that in order to gain a deeper relationship with God, we had to experience a loss, yet one that was to be only temporary. This is a divine principle that we may experience many times as we journey across the uneven terrain of this life. And because this pilgrimage can be so treacherous, God is giving us His Spirit. Jesus is once again reminding us of key number four – we are never alone.
Jesus is telling us that He must die or “go away” before the Holy Spirit can be released. Why? As we explore the mystery of the atonement throughout the pages of Scripture, we must return to the Old Testament passage that declares, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul” – Leviticus 17:11.
God has never changed this requirement for the forgiveness of sins. Sins can only be removed by the means that God has ordained and that is through sacrifice. The first sacrifice was instigated by God Himself and Adam and Eve were forgiven and clothed through the death of an innocent animal (Genesis 3:21). They could not obtain forgiveness by clothing themselves as they had tried to do with leaves, (Genesis 3:7) for as the prophet Isaiah declares, all man’s righteousness are as filthy rags.
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away (Isaiah 64:6).
Mankind can only be redeemed by an act of God. The sacrifices in the Old Testament were foreshadows of the final fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the coming and the purpose of the Messiah, whose soul would be the offering for our sins. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief: when You shall make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, (He shall live again) He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand (Isaiah 53:10).
Through Jesus we are given the gift of eternal life which means that when the body dies the soul will be enabled to return to God and abide eternally with Him. We cannot have eternal life, or be accepted by God at the final judgment, without our sins removed and the Eternal Holy Spirit abiding in us and that Spirit is given to us through the blood and sacrifice of the Messiah.
We are told that the Spirit gives life, therefore the Spirit is life –“It is the spirit that quickens” (gives life). (John 6:63). Jesus said that, “As the Father has life in Himself so He has given to the Son to have life within Himself” (John 5:26). Jesus was given life as a man by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18). Therefore the Spirit of Eternal Life, the ‘life in Himself,’ Jesus’ life force is God’s Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the eternal Spirit of God that enables our souls to have eternal life. Thus the Spirit of life that God the Father has designated to be bestowed upon us through the blood of His Son is released to us through the Savior’s wounds. He must die or ‘go away’ as He said. His divine purpose must be finished on the cross. The Holy Spirit is given to us through our Messiah Jesus, a holy sinless vessel; our Passover lamb ‘without blemish and without spot (I Peter 1:19). And in order to receive that Holy Spirit, we are purified through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Our sins must be removed from the throne of our souls in order to receive that which is holy; before God’s Holy Spirit can reside within the temple of our beings.
This is the salvation that God has ordained for mankind and men cannot altar this truth or achieve salvation through any other means. It was rebellion against God’s authority that initially brought the world into spiritual darkness and decay, and it is the same spirit of rebellion that seeks to undermine God’s authority to this day.
We watch Jesus’ face begin to shine with joy as He describes the ministry of His Father’s Holy Spirit.
“And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment;…” (16:8).
Like an artist, Jesus has just massed in a painting in our minds. We see the colors all merging together and at first we do not understand what we are seeing. Then Jesus begins to form details with His words. We watch as He continues.
…“of sin because they believe not on Me” (16:9).
The colors are stirring and we begin to see a portrait of life impaled on a cross for all of humanity, yet at the same time we are beholding the rejection of this precious Truth. As the painting unfolds before us, we see these ones in their nakedness, this portion of mankind that has willfully rejected the warm cloak of forgiveness, and the decay of their sin remains upon them like the oozing lesions of a vile disease. The cure is before them, free for the asking. The Spirit brings them the knowledge of their need as He lifts up the Savior’s sacrifice. We are deeply saddened as we watch their refusal consume their lonely souls with eternal death.
Then the scene before us begins to dissolve, and suddenly we are beholding the open doorway of an empty tomb as Jesus exclaims –
“…of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you see Me no more” (16:10).
Those of us who are standing before that empty tomb in this painting are clothed in the righteousness of the Gospel of our salvation. Jesus is gone from us physically, yet His life remains in us for eternity. The cloak of His righteousness upon us is glowing a vibrant, dazzling light, reminding us of Jesus’ words to His disciples, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). The Holy Spirit radiates the Lord’s righteous presence upon those who have received the Truth as a testimony to those who have rejected the Light of the Messiah. This cloak we are wearing is permeating our beings with joy, as we realize we are all sharing in the victory of that empty tomb.
We hear the words of the Psalmist sing in our minds the lyrics of this glorious song –
“The Lord has made known His salvation. His righteousness has He openly shown in the sight of the heathen” (Psalm 98:2).
We look at our radiant covering and suddenly realize that we are adorned in a wedding garment. The painting swiftly changes to a vibrant celebration. It is a wedding feast, the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7), where He has gathered to Himself all that He has chosen who have believed.
We find ourselves part of a living parable. We are all seated around a table covered by a sumptuous feast. The atmosphere is shimmering with delight.
We hear a knock on the door of this glorious room. Jesus opens it and in the doorway stands a man in a pin-stripe suit. He is wearing a vibrantly colored tie, a beret and saddle shoes. He is looking at Jesus expectantly as if he is waiting to be invited inside.
Jesus asks him, “Friend, how come you came in here without a wedding garment?” (Matthew 22:12).
Jesus calls him ‘friend.’ He calls His disciples friends in John 15:15. He relates friendship with communication – “for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known to you.”
Apparently the visitor at the door had, at some point a knowledge of the Savior, maybe was even a member of a church, yet something was missing. The wedding garment of Jesus’ righteousness that is imparted to us through faith in the atonement, gains us entrance into that banqueting hall. Did this soul standing in the doorway think he really didn't need to believe what the Scriptures actually said was required in order to receive the Lord's salvation?
The man is speechless. He apparently thought he was dressed for the occasion, but he picked those clothes out by himself. He remains speechless as he is catapulted into the bottomless abyss of rejection where he takes his place with the prince of this world and the others that have followed the devil's lies above the words of our Lord.
We are suddenly beholding the condemnation of Satan’s realm as Jesus concludes His masterpiece with the finale of the Holy Spirit’s ministry –
…”of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged" (16:11).
The cross and the empty tomb are the triumph that has sealed the devil’s doom.
We suddenly observe all the evil of this world collapsing down upon itself and those who have embraced the devil’s kingdom. At this point we realize the power of the Gospel we have been entrusted to proclaim and we see how the Holy Spirit is activated and operates with that proclamation.
We know that there is so much more to see, yet the painting is beginning to fade as Jesus says,
“I have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (16:12).
We’re disappointed, but we are just beginning. We can handle the tricycle; we’re just not quite ready to navigate it on the freeway. We must be fed the deeper truths in stages as we grow.
Jesus sees our disappointment and continues,
“However, when the He the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all truth;”…
We need a guide through the jungle of man-inspired theologies. The Holy Spirit will lead us around the murky swamp of philosophy and cause us to always seek out the solid ground of God’s word – if we are listening and following.
“For He will not speak of Himself...”
The Holy Spirit does not speak of Himself, which means that the Spirit does not glorify the works of the Spirit, but glorifies and directs our attention to the person and work of the Messiah Jesus.
This leads us to another very important key to our spiritual survival. Test the Spirits - "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (I John 4:1).Wherever there is a genuine work of God or moving of His Spirit, the Gospel will always be proclaimed; for as we have been shown, the Holy Spirit will direct us to glorify Jesus.
The Apostle John tells us that the Spirit “teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it has taught you, you shall abide in Him" (Jesus)- I John 2:27.
The Spirit will lead the believer into an abiding relationship with the Lord of the Scriptures. The Spirit will never contradict the word of God, but leads us to the word; written, spoken and living in Messiah Jesus.
“but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak...”
The Holy Spirit is directed by the will of the Father –
You send forth Your Spirit, they are created – Psalm 104:30.
I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh – Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17.
He therefore that ministers to you the Spirit, and works miracles among you… Galatians 3:5 – and the Father speaks through His Spirit (Hebrews 1:1, II Peter 1:21, Hebrews 3:7, Psalm 95:7-11).
“And He will show you things to come” (16:13).
This aspect of the Spirit’s ministry is vital for our protection. God will prepare us for the future. The Spirit will reveal strategies to thwart the plans of the devil so God’s soldiers can be better prepared for the battles ahead. Therefore it is vital that we fine tune ourselves to hear the Still Small Voice of the Spirit’s instructions.
“He shall glorify Me...”
Again, the genuine move of the Spirit, or a ministry that is birthed from the Spirit, will have Jesus as its focus; that is the Jesus of the Bible, and not “another” as the Apostle Paul has warned us (II Corinthians 11:4).
The Spirit of Truth leads us to the Truth and not into error.
“…for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it to you” (16:14).
“All things that the Father has are Mine: therefore I said, that He shall take of Mine, and shall show it to you” (16:15).
The Father has glorified His Son with Himself, therefore everything that Jesus is, is of, and is God the Father; they are One (John 10:30).
Everything we need is in Jesus, and the Holy Spirit reveals the Son to the believer. The multi-faceted Jewel that is the Son of God is magnified in the Spirit’s spotlight. The nuances, the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge, the insights of spirituality, are shown to us as we are able to receive them through the Spirit’s instruction, Who is the revealer of the limitless wealth that is the priceless gift of our Messiah.
There are conferences on “spirituality,” but there can be no genuine spirituality apart from an abiding relationship with Jesus. This is a true spirituality in a world of New Age substitutes and counterfeits. Again, if the origins of any movement or denomination, etc., are birthed from the True Spirit of God, then the focus will be the Jesus of the Bible; the Only Way, Truth and Life. (John 14:6).
We are told that if we seek, we will find (Matthew 7:8). Considering the enormous depth of Divine knowledge and revelation contained in our Savior, can it be part of the reason why so many believers remain spiritually anemic is that they are not actively seeking a deeper relationship with God? Are they just content with a weekly visit on Sundays? Do they feel that they have all they need of God? Have they become complacent in their treasure seeking? Is this how the church becomes the lukewarm Laodicean bride described for us in the book of Revelation (Revelation 3:14-19)? Has she stopped seeking her Bridegroom?
He is a feast, yet it appears that she is not hungry. She has filled herself with the pleasures and distractions of this world. His Spirit is wooing her back into His embrace. What will it take to get her attention again? Any suggestions?
I had a conversation with a pastor’s wife, who, when presented with the option of getting more of the Spirit, she replied vehemently, “I have all of God that I need.” How sad. I think she really meant that she had all of God she wanted. When we stop seeking Him we can become complacent Christians. Never stop seeking Him, even after you find Him children; there is always more. In Jesus are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). Be a zealous Treasure seeker.
Before we continue, let’s review the keys we’ve been given so far in our journey through Chapter sixteen of John’s Gospel.
In the beginning of this chapter we are reminded once again of key number 9, which was introduced to us in chapter 15,-expect persecution and rejection as the result of sharing the Truth of God’s word.
Which brings us to key number ten - be prepared for loss of the things of this world; and many of those losses will be as a consequence of following Jesus. He wants us to remember “that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Every loss we incur during our ministry in this life will be used for our benefit.
Key number 11 – Test the Spirits. Is the work that is exhibiting a move of the Spirit firmly grounded in the atonement of Jesus Christ and the Word of God – or man’s words? “because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (I John 4:1).
Key number 12 – Never stop seeking, or else you will become complacent in your walk. Avoid spiritual stagnation.
Jesus has paused in His discourse to allow us to ponder what He has spoken to us so far. In this interim, we sense that He is about to change the course of His instructions to us.
For a while all we hear is the sound of the disciples’ sandaled feet on the gravel path following Jesus as He continues to lead us to the finale of His ministry on earth.
“A little while and you shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and you shall see Me, because I go to the Father” (16:16).
He looks at us and He is smiling. There is a twinkle in His eyes. Then He looks away and returns His gaze to the destination before Him.
Then some of His disciples said among themselves, ‘What is this that He said to us, ‘a little while, and you shall not see Me: and again, “a little while and you shall see Me: and, ‘Because I go to the Father? (16:17).
They said therefore, “What is this that He said, ‘A little while?’ We cannot tell what He said” (16:18).
Their Divine Parent has just bestowed upon His bewildered children a parable, a riddle if you will, to help prepare them.
We, who are participating in this event from our vantage point of ‘now’, have the privilege of knowing the answer to this riddle as we turn the pages of the story, but it’s always good to be reminded of what it’s all about and rediscover, along with His disciples the reason for our hope.
Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask Him, and said to them, “Do you inquire among yourselves of that I said, ‘A little while, and you shall not see Me: and again, a little while and you shall see Me? (16:19).
Truly, truly, I say to you, that you shall weep and lament…"
This is something we really don’t want to hear. He is our Loved One we are about to lose. And while we are weeping, the world will be laughing, humiliating us in our grief.
“…but the world shall rejoice, and you shall be sorrowful…
We will find no comfort from those in the world that desires to see God’s children suffer.
He pauses again. He is letting us experience a foretaste of the mourning that is to come to prepare us for what it will be like when our Loved One is taken from us. We find ourselves emitting one collective piercing sob from souls that have been pricked by the thorn of death that robs. In a profound supernatural moment we are being allowed to identify with the heart cries of all of humanity’s victims. Echoed within our own weeping we hear the tears of the orphans, the wails of the widows and men bereaved of their wives; and parents rendered suddenly childless by the demon stealer of lives.
We look up through our tears to discover that Jesus is weeping with us, just as we remembered Him sobbing before Lazarus’ tomb (John 11:35). And we are reminded that there is not a tear that is emitted from human sorrow that remains unnoticed before our Father’s compassionate eyes.
Then through the winds of the great storm of grief we are experiencing, we hear Him say,
“…but your sorrow shall be turned into joy” (16:20).
Our grief at this moment is so intense; it’s hard to believe it will ever be removed. Then we watch as the dark clouds of sorrow that are obstructing our view of everything else begins to stir slowly as Jesus speaks,
“A woman when in labor has sorrow, because her hour is come…”
Yes, the pain of child birth is extremely intense like the inner pain we are feeling now.
“…but as soon as she is delivered of the child she remembers no more the anguish for joy that a man is born into the world” (16:21).
The pain we feel is only temporary? We are beholding a landscape that is covered with gravestones, and He is talking about giving birth…
“And you now therefore have sorrow…”
We feel the contractions. Whatever tribulations befall us in this life, they are like birth pains, they have not been ordained to last forever.
“…but I will see you again...” - when a Child is born from a grave.
The clouds are beginning to swirl. As we watch they eloquently surrender to the glorious rainbow that has been obstructed from our view. And we realize, it was there the whole time waiting to be revealed. We will see Jesus again, our Loved One – and our loved ones, because of Him.
“…and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man takes from you” (16:22).
We have been given a promise that at this moment is far too much for us to fathom as we look at the world around us writhing in the wake of its sin. All that we are beholding is summarized for us at the door of His empty tomb. He is trying to remind us of the first key He gave us that will carry us above the tumultuous waters of this life - there is hope, if we believe.
“And in that day you will ask Me nothing…”
At “that day” when his disciples finally realize that death has been overcome by a supernatural act of life, when everything He has told us is brought to our understanding and assemble so our minds can truly see the miracle; we won’t have to ask Him any more questions; we will truly know what it has been all about from the beginning. An empty tomb explains it all.
“…Truly, truly, I say to you…” As He speaks His eyes are dancing…...”Whatever you shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it to you (16:23). Until now you have asked nothing in My name: ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full” (16:24).
The fulfillment of the Gospel; His death and resurrection bestows upon the believing soul the gift of eternal life and the added blessing of an authority and a relationship that has been transferred from the Father through the Son to the disciple. The power in the name of the Messiah is there for His servants to appropriate in times of need and to supply His workers with what they require to accomplish what He has ordained for us to do for Him in this life. “In the name of Jesus;” make your requests known, and rejoice in the blessings of answered prayer.
At this point we all feel like we have been on a journey in a little boat that has come through a storm and has now landed in a place of rest. In the quiet He speaks,
“These things have I spoken to you in proverbs…” In other words, He hasn’t come out and spoken plainly to His disciples, ‘I am going to die and rise from the dead and when that happens you’ll know what it’s all about, you won’t have to ask Me, you will understand and you won’t be sad anymore.’ He has been preparing us in the manner that is consistent with the word of God, those who seek will find.
“…but the time comes, when I shall no more speak to you in proverbs: but I shall show you plainly of the Father” (16:25).
Again He is referring to the fulfillment of His purpose on earth, when His travailing on the cross is over and new life is birthed before our eyes, and in us, His Holy Spirit will, as He has explained to us before, ‘lead us into all truth” (John 16:13).
“At that day you shall ask in My name; and I do not say to you, that I will pray the Father for you:” (16:26).
The connection has been made to the Father and the believer through faith in the atonement and it is not something that Jesus has to pray to give us, it is given to us or bestowed upon us through faith in the death and resurrection of our Lord. This relationship is given to us at the moment of faith, which is exemplified for us in the earthquake that rent the vial in the temple when Jesus died (Matthew 27:54).
Previously the high priest went into the holy of holies once a year to make atonement for himself and the people. It is said that the curtain that separated that area was a foot thick. When Jesus died, the earthquake that followed tore apart the curtain signifying that accessibility to God was no longer limited to an elite priesthood, but was available to all who receive the atonement.
“For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came out from God” (16:27).
Jesus had told us this before (John 14:21,23); “He that loves Me shall be loved of My Father.” Remember key number six we learned about in chapter fourteen? He relates love to obedience. If we truly love Him, then we obey Him – "He that has My commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves Me (John 14:21), If a man loves Me he will keep My words" (John 14:23). A disciple exhibits faith and obedience.
He pauses for a moment before he declares to His disciples –
“I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world; again, I leave the world, and go to the Father” (16:28).
Was it the authority with which Jesus spoke these words that caused His disciples to proclaim a declaration affirming their belief that He has come from God?
His disciples said to Him, “Lo, now you speak plainly, and are not speaking a proverb (16:29).
Now we are sure that You know all things, and don’t need that any man should ask You: by this we believe that you came forth from God" (16:30).
He was reading their hearts and ours as we stand before Him in these pages. He sighs as He replies -
“Do you now believe? (16:31).
“Behold, the hour comes, yes is now come, that you shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave Me alone…."
He knows the frailty of human resolve. He’s watching us flee in the face of our circumstances and He is abandoned. For at this moment our faith is still a bit too small to keep us standing at His side. He continues to watch the future when those He loves disappear and He responds with confidence,
“…and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me” (16:32).
In this study we have examined the keys that will help us through the hard times. It seems that key number four, that we are never alone, is the one that our trembling souls need to hear the most often until we realize that it is true.
The storm has been raging, but He is riding those waves along with us. We look out over the rail of our little boat and we see Him walking toward us on the water. We shouldn’t be surprised, because by now we have learned that with God all things are possible. He is smiling at us, beckoning us to come. We are not going to look at the stormy turmoil of our circumstances. We know that with His help we can walk on those waters with Him, too.
We take a deep breath of faith and as we prepare to hoist ourselves over the rail we hear Him say with a smile,
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (16:33).
Copyright 2012 by H.D. Shively
Bible Insights | Cafe Logos Homepage