Jesus makes lots of promises. What do you think is his most amazing promise? In this post, I think we just might have a candidate for it. We actually started studying the promise in the previous post. Jesus teaches the promises to his disciples in John 14:15-31, and he crafts in the form of an “if-then” statement. If we do x, he promises to do y.
We’ve heard the “if” side of the promise. I would encourage you to stop reading this post, and go back and read all about the very important “if” side. To summarize, it was, “If we love him, we will obey him.” Now what about the “then” side? What is the promise in this? In verses 16 and 17, he says if we love him, we will obey him, THEN he will give us the Holy Spirit to be with us and in us.
Then in verse 21 he expands on this, saying that if we love him and obey him, he and his Father will love that person and Jesus will show himself to that person. Are you seeing a theme in his description of the promise? Yes? No? Maybe?
Let’s continue looking at verse 23 to see if he expands on the promise any further, and to see if there is a theme to the promise. There he says that “if anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching, and”…here is the promise…”my Father will love him,” which is the same thing he said in verse 21, but he goes on to say that he and the Father will come to that person and make their home with him.
Now do you see the theme? Here it is:
If we love Jesus, we will obey his teaching, and then he promises to stay relationally close to us. It is a wonderful promise. We can have a close relationship with the God of the universe, with the King of the Kingdom, with his Spirit. And it is not just any relationship.
I am reading a book by Christian author Sarah Bessey, and in it she describes how she was surprised to receive an invitation to a conference at the Vatican which would include an audience with the Pope. She and her husband traveled to Rome, spent a week there sightseeing, and then attended the conference. On the first day of the conference, they, along with a big group, had a personal audience with the Pope. They went to the papal apartments, up five flights of stairs and then ushered into a grand greeting room, along with maybe 100 people. Then the Pope came out, walking around the room shaking everyone’s hand. She said it was a great experience. Once in a lifetime. Super memorable and meaningful to meet someone so important.
But the relationship that Jesus promises us is very different from that. Look at the words he uses in verse 17. Jesus says that we know the Spirit, and the Spirit lives with us and will be in us. Think about that. For the true follower of Jesus, he promises the closeness of the Holy Spirit with us and in us! That’s amazing. Do you know what to do with that teaching? God in us? It is just absolutely wonderful to think about.
Jesus is far from done, though. Look how he continues in verse 18. He tells the disciples that he doesn’t want to leave them as orphans. Instead he says he will come to them. Sounds great, right? Remember that earlier in chapter 14, Jesus had been talking about how he was leaving them. Some of his disciples were clearly not thrilled with this idea, saying to him, “What’s going on? Where are you going, Jesus?” Now he saying, “Don’t worry, guys, I’m coming back.” But as he continues in verses 19-20, Jesus gets characteristically mysterious when he says, “Before long, the world won’t 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.”
I can imagine the disciples scratching their heads, and saying to him, “Is this another one of those parables, Jesus, that no one understands? What do you mean that the world won’t see you, but we will see you? And ‘because I live, you also will live’?” What could Jesus be talking about? Think about it from their perspective, hearing about him being in the Father, and the disciples in him, and he in them…it just sounds strange, right?
I don’t know how much of this the disciples understood at that moment. Eventually they would get it. But it would take some time, including the upheaval of his death and resurrection, when he left them and then came back to them. It would take him spending time walking them through the Bible to understand how the old prophecies were being fulfilled in his death and resurrection, that he was the Messiah. It would take his Ascension, the moment about a month or so later when he actually did leave them for good, for them to have a further understanding of what he was talking about. But it wouldn’t fully and completely make sense until about ten days after his Ascension, when, on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit would come to them and live with them.
That was day he had in mind when he said in verses 16-17 that the Spirit was coming to live in his disciples. This is what he meant when he said in verses 18-20 that he wouldn’t leave them as orphans, and that he would be in them. This is what he meant in verse 21 when he said that he would show himself to them. And finally this is what he meant in verse 23 when he said that he and the father would make their home in them. Through his Holy Spirit, God is with us and in us and makes his home in us. Check back in to the next post when we will look at verses 25-27 to learn more promises related to the Holy Spirit.