The first time my wife and I left our children with a baby sitter was a very stressful time for us. You may or may not know that our family is very close knit and we do pretty much everything together. We are used to taking our children with us everywhere and we rarely call upon other people to care for them. It’s not that we don’t trust people, we just like being with our kids. On the rare occasion we do ask someone to care for our children, like any other parent, we will leave a list of contact information in case of emergency. We leave our cell phone numbers, sometimes numbers of close friends or relatives. We try to cover our bases so if, Lord forbid, something tragic were to happen to us when we were out they would not be abandoned or left alone. I know it sounds sort of morbid but we want to make sure our children are cared for in the case of a tragedy.
In the passage today Jesus is being very much like a parent making preparations for leaving his children “home alone” as he departs from this earth. His is crucifixion is looming on the horizon and he has been giving his disciples instructions on how they should continue in him after his departure. Jesus is not going to leave them abandoned or orphaned when he goes. He ensures his followers that he will leave them fully equipped, well cared for and although he may not be present with them physically, he will remain with them spiritually.
This is the first of many times Jesus specifically mentions the Holy Spirit. Up to this point he has referenced the Spirit very little and in this “The Upper Room Discourse” Jesus introduces his disciples to the promise of another Helper. He introduces them to the Holy Spirit (paraclete) and the role He will play in the lives of believers.
Read John 14:15 - 21
Verse 15: In the previous verse Jesus has given the disciples the charge to love one another, believe, obey and pray in his name. He informs them that after his departure from this world the disciples will do even greater things than they have witnessed. First Jesus reminds his followers that if they truly love Jesus then they must obey his commands. In chapter 13:34 Jesus gave a new command and it was the command to love one another as he has loved them (by giving his life for them). Words are empty if love is not practiced. Obedience to Jesus is the sure sign of love. This is not a works based “if” and “then”. It may be better translated “since you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Verse 16, 17: Since the commandments are kept by his followers THEN Jesus will ask the Father to send another Helper (or advocate) to be with them forever. This wasn’t a carrot he was dangling before them, this was a promise. The word translated “Advocate”, “Helper” or “Counselor” is the word parakaleo which we translate as paraclete and is defined as “to call alongside” to encourage or exhort or as the ESV translates as Helper. This is the “role” if you will of the Holy Spirit.
I find it interesting to note that Jesus is actually the original Paraclete’. If you notice Jesus says that the Father will send another Helper (which is an apparent and obvious reference to the Holy Spirit according to verse 17). The Helper or as Jesus calls him the Spirit of truth will be given by the Father and remain with the disciples forever. Obviously Jesus will not be with the disciples physically for much longer (this is the reason why he is giving this discourse) and even after his resurrection he is only going to be with them for a short time before he ascends back to the Father. Through this promise of the Holy Spirit (or Spirit of Truth) we come to understand that through the Spirit Jesus will dwell or be in all who believe in him. We will look at the Holy Spirit a little closer in chapter 16.
The world cannot know the Spirit of truth because the world system is against God, it has no care for the works of the Spirit. I Cor. 2:14 tells us that a person who is godless (an unbeliever) cannot understand nor comprehend spiritual things. To an unbeliever they are folly or foolishness. Those of us who do abide and obey Jesus can and do have the Spirit in us and we are able to understand and comprehend because we have the mind of Christ in us.
This does not mean the Spirit has no role in the unbeliever’s life. We know this to be true because none of us can be called Christians if it weren’t so. The scripture tells us that the Spirit is the one who calls or awakens the dead in Christ and draws himself to the sinner. Chapter 16 shows us that the Spirit is the one who actually draws us to Jesus. Here Jesus speaks of the one who remains in the world and cannot see the Spirit at work because he cannot humanly comprehend the Spirit and the Spirit has not enlightened him.
Verse 18: Here Jesus assures the disciples that he will not be left alone after he is crucified. He will not leave the believers ill equipped. Through his death and resurrection the Spirit will be given to them (which we see happen at Pentecost). Jesus gives his disciples comfort in knowing that when he goes they will not be left to fend for themselves. He speaks of coming back to them and there are three ways this has/could be interpreted.
- Many interpret it to mean Jesus will come back to the disciples after his resurrection.
- Others think he refers to the second coming or even the rapture.
- Some say he speaks about the promise of the Holy Spirit who comes at Pentecost.
Verse 19: “In a little while…” Jesus speaks of his death. In a short period of time he will be handed over to the authorities and he will be crucified on the cross. As I have stated numerous times throughout this study that this absolutely had to happen; Jesus must give up his life in order for God’s plan of redemption to come to fruition. When he departs from this world he will no longer be visible to the outside world. However as people who obey his commands and believe in Him they we will see him again. He not only physically appears to the disciples post resurrection a number of times but he also makes a promise that since he will rise again we also receive the resurrection life. Since Jesus is alive we now have life as well. His death and resurrection is for God’s glory and our benefit. In his departure we not only receive the Spirit; we also receive life eternal.
Verse 20: At the time when he reveals himself (both physically and through the coming of the Spirit) they will then know that Jesus and the Father are one. They will have an “aha” moment where all becomes crystal clear in regards to his teachings of the unity of Father and Son. Not only will they know the Father and Son are one but will also know that those who are in Christ are also unified in Him.
Verse 21: The promise Jesus makes… The ones who keep and obey Jesus’ commandments will show their love for him AND the one who loves Jesus will also be loved by the Father.
Seeing the promise Jesus makes to the disciples about not abandoning them and giving the Spirit was not a one time offer for the disciples only. This promise is still available today. As followers of Jesus we, unfortunately, do not have the privilege of walking with a physical Jesus at our side. However we have the Holy Spirit in us which is even more beneficial than having a physical Jesus on earth in many ways. Through the Holy Spirit Jesus can reside in all who have placed their faith in him and obey his commands. We know from the apostle Paul that we are now the new Temple in which the Holy Spirit lives. It is our bodies which serve as the Temple of the Spirit. Since the Spirit lives in us we need to remember the words of Jesus in 14:12 where Jesus promises we will indeed perform miraculous deeds, in fact we will perform even greater miracles. We are blessed individuals. We not only have the promise of life both here and for all eternity but we also have the Spirit of truth or the Holy Spirit in us. Jesus is in us, he is here today and through his Spirit we can and will do great things in his name and for his glory.