Please take a moment to read John 14:15-31 in your favorite Bible. I used the NIV (1984) to prepare these remarks.
If you’ve been watching the Olympics for the last EIGHTEEN DAYS, you’ve been treated to some pretty amazing athletic performances. However, the biggest controversy may be over an Olympic skier who became an internet sensation for her horrible performances.
Hungarian freeskier Elizabeth Swaney is the subject of some angry athletes’ social media posts, accusing Swaney of “scamming” her way into the Olympics. Under heavy criticism about her qualifications to even compete in the Olympics, Swaney told CNBC on Wednesday she was "striving to achieve" the level of an Olympic skier. Swaney became a sensation when she came in last place in the women's ski halfpipe for Team Hungary. She was unable to complete even the most basic tricks but did succeed in not falling down.
In an interview Swaney said she is capable of landing tricks on waterski ramps, but "I just haven't been comfortable enough yet to land those tricks on snow." Swaney’s grandparents are from Hungary which allowed her to compete for that team. That’s one loophole in the rules. The other loophole was that Swaney “competed” in World Cup events and by finished in the top 30 by only going to events that had less than 30 competitors! <Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/21/olympic-skier-elizabeth-swaney-i-did-not-scam-my-way-into-the-games.html on 2/23/18.>
Let me tell you some good news: there will be no “scammers” in heaven. There are no loopholes to exploit, no way to cheat, and no fooling God, who knows our hearts.
Everyone in heaven will be there because they walked in Jesus’ footsteps. They received His gift of salvation by faith. Having been adopted into God’s family, we show forth God’s love, following the guidance of God the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit gives us leadership in loving.
1. Our love FOR God is manifest in obedience.
(14:15, 21, 23-24)
Jesus started this section with the word IF. “IF” is a little word with big implications. With it Jesus effectively says, “You can claim to love me, but those who really love me will obey my commands.” Obedience is keeping God’s commands to love. Remember them? Love God first, others second, self last. Easy to say, harder to do, yet it is the doing - not the saying - that really counts. God gives us the Holy Spirit to encourage, empower, and guide us into keeping these commands.
2. The love OF God is manifest in the Holy Spirit.
We get the Spirit through our faith-connection with Jesus = “I WILL ASK THE FATHER…” (16).
We understand the Holy Spirit Jesus by studying what Jesus told us about Him. For example, there are five things we can learn from this passage.
First, the Spirit is ANOTHER COUNSELOR (16). The Greek word for COUNSELOR is paraclete. It is such a rich word in the original language, it is difficult to translate into English and do it justice. It means “a person summoned to one’s aid,” but can be translated as “Comforter, Helper, Advocate, Teacher, Mediator, Legal Advisor, Intercessor,” and “Friend.” All that means the Holy Spirit is our greatest supporter and our most capable assistant all rolled into one!
Why did Jesus refer to Him as ANOTHER Counselor? There are two reasons I can think of: because He continues the work of Jesus in the world. Also, so we can see all the members of the Trinity expressed in this passage: God the Father sent God the Son into the world. When God the Son returned to heaven, God the Spirit was given to help Jesus’ disciples.
Second, because He is the SPIRIT OF TRUTH (17). The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth but unfortunately, not all people will accept that truth. In fact, our culture is increasingly hostile to two assertions that are central to our faith: one, that absolute truth exists and two, that God has revealed it to us.
Third, because the WORLD cannot know Him (17). Jesus - the first Counselor - came to us in a physical body. Because of that, He occupied time and space and could be perceived by the five senses.
The Holy Spirit - the second Counselor - exists as a spirit. As such, He is not limited to a single time or space and cannot be perceived by the five senses; this is one reason the WORLD cannot know Him. The WORLD only trusts what it can physically perceive.
There are more than eyeballs and ears involved here. In John’s writings, the word WORLD refers not to this planet, but to the system that pervades all worldly cultures and is contrary to God. Satan is identified as the “PRINCE OF THIS WORLD” (30) and he exerts his influence to oppose God and His people. However, Satan has NO HOLD on Jesus because three years earlier, Jesus endured Satan’s temptations and stayed faithful to God. It is only by faith that any of us can perceive God. People who love the WORLD have rejected God and thereby will not/cannot see Him.
Fourth, because He lives in Jesus’ followers (17). “BUT YOU KNOW HIM,” Jesus said. As we have faith in Christ, we have the Spirit. Jesus declared, “HE LIVES WITH YOU AND WILL BE IN YOU.”
God has chosen to partner with His people in order to share the good news with people who have not yet believed. The Spirit will guide and help us; this news is too good to keep to ourselves.
Fifth, because He WILL TEACH YOU ALL THINGS and REMIND YOU OF EVERYTHING I HAVE SAID TO YOU (26). The word TEACH implies the Holy Spirit helps us understand Jesus’ teaching, eternal truths. The word REMIND makes me think this isn’t knowledge for its own sake but it must to be applied to our daily lives, helping us make godly choices. The word EVERYTHING means that this promise of the Spirit is unconditional. The Holy Spirit will provide us with all we need to keep God’s commands.
3. Jesus comforts us with His promises.
“I WILL NOT LEAVE YOU AS ORPHANS,” he declared; “I WILL COME TO YOU” (18). This promise will be completed at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Instead of being ORPHANS or treated like orphans, we’re adopted into God’s family. More than that, we are one with God as Jesus described in v. 20.
“YOU WILL SEE ME” is such an important promise, it gets two mentions (19, 28-31). Verse nineteen is a promise set in Jesus’ day.
He said, “BEFORE LONG, THE WORLD WILL NOT SEE ME ANY MORE.” Jesus lived in the world 33 years. After His death and Resurrection, He went back to heaven. It is to His Resurrection and Ascension Jesus referred. “BUT YOU WILL SEE ME,” Jesus promised. In 1 Corinthians 15:6 we are told Jesus appeared to more than 500 of His followers after His Resurrection!
On a broader scope, this is a promise for us (28-32), referring to the Second Coming when we will all see Jesus (see 1 Thessalonians 4:16). In these verses Jesus comforted His disciples saying His departure is good news because He is going to God the Father.
This is a reference to Jesus taking the seat of honor and authority in heaven, at the right hand of God the Father (see Romans 8:34). From that advantaged point Jesus acts as our Mediator, speaking to God the Father on our behalf.
“I HAVE TOLD YOU NOW…SO WHEN IT HAPPENS YOU WILL BELIEVE” (29). - This statement is virtually a word-for-word repeat of 13:19, which we read last week. When things get repeated, we should pay close attention.
One of Jesus’ aims in His Last Supper teachingswas to prepare His disciples so that when events unfolded as He predicted, they would keep their faith in Him. But His intended audience was much bigger than those eleven men: “THAT THE WORLD [would] LEARN THAT I LOVE THE FATHER AND DO EXACTLY WHAT MY FATHER HAS COMMANDED ME” (v. 31).
Here is a third fantastic promise: “BECAUSE I LIVE, YOU WILL LIVE” (19). In 1 Corinthians 15:20 Paul identified Jesus as the FIRSTFRUITS of the resurrection of all who believe. Jesus’ statement here establishes a link between Jesus’ Resurrection and ours. Because Jesus won victory over death and lives forever, so will we who are in Him.
We are promised fellowship with the Father (20). The word “Trinity” is the name the Church has given to the three-part nature of God. Father, Son and Spirit are distinct persons in one personality. It is not a doctrine we have embraced because it is easy, but because the Bible affirms that Father, Son, and Spirit are all God, but there is only one God.
The point is, being three-in-one, God exists as a community within Himself. His very nature is to be in relationship. Jesus
invites us to join Him in this close relationship, the ultimate version of community.
Jesus promised, “I WILL LOVE AND SHOW MYSELF” (21). Love is the divine standard and brings us into relationship with God. Love was the reason Jesus came to Earth and did all He has done for us, including giving us the Holy Spirit.
Verse twenty-seven is a classic promise, one that through the ages, has uplifted people of faith: “MY PEACE I GIVE YOU” (27). Jesus’ PEACE is contrasted with what the WORLD calls “peace.” Jesus’ PEACE is lasting and independent of circumstances. It is a PEACE that banishes troubles and fears from our HEARTS.
The Holy Spirit gives us leadership in loving.
Jesus spent the last hours before His arrest preparing to live in a world that was going to be turned upside down. He predicted the events of the next few days so His disciples would be ready to trust Him to fulfill all God’s promises.
Today these words serve a similar purpose for us. Jesus speaks to prepare us to live in the WORLD, in a system dominated by evil that is hostile to the truth. The best thing we have to counter this system is love. The best source of love is the Holy Spirit.
Let us live in love by living in Jesus and following the Holy Spirit.