Saturday 20 April 2024

John 14:22-31 – Not to the world?

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‘Why are you showing yourself to us, but not to the world?’ This is such an interesting question, it’s also a natural question. Judas (not Iscariot) wants to know why Jesus shows himself to the twelve, but not to the world. The question suggests it’s Jesus’ choice to hide himself from most people but show himself to a few. Judas is right to find this strange! But it’s not what Jesus has in mind.

In verse 23, he responds by saying that for everyone who loves him, he and the Father will come and make their home in that person. In other words, it’s not just for the twelve, but for anyone in the world who loves Jesus. Or to put it another way, the answer is that he will reveal himself to anyone – if they love him. He doesn’t hide from anybody, but those who don’t love him can never truly see him.

Short of time - Jesus needs to wind the conversation up because he knows what will happen next. He reminds them again of the promised Spirit and tells them that he and his Father will live within them; and the Spirit will teach them and remind them of everything they need to know. He also promises to leave his peace with them, and tells them not to worry or be afraid. This seems to me particularly striking when you consider what Jesus is about to go through at the hands of the Sanhedrin and the Roman governor.

And finally, in verses 28 to 31, he reminds them that he’s going to the Father who is greater than he is, and they will be glad (once they understand the significance of this). So, in what way is the Father greater than the Son? Does this idea even make any sense when we know that Father, Son and Spirit are co-equal within the structure we call ‘trinity’, the three in oneness that they share together? Perhaps the answer is simply that Jesus has limited himself within a human body in order to reach us in this world. For more than 30 years he has remained limited, but in returning to the Father he will regain the ability to be present everywhere at every moment of time with all of his people. In his human body he is inevitably less powerful than the Father, only able to act in the one place and time where he finds himself. He took on our limitations so that he could reach us on our level, in ways we can understand. That time is coming to an end as he returns to the Father.

Time’s up - And then they leave, and the final act will open.

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John 14:15-21 - Promising the Spirit

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Verse 15 is a big ‘if’. Jesus doesn’t ask us to do what he tells us; he simply points out that, if we love him, we will do what he says. So we are faced with the reality of what is in our hearts where Jesus is concerned. Do I love him, or don’t I? How far will I go in following him? Some of the way? All of the way?

The Spirit of Truth - The Holy Spirit comes as a gift from the Father in answer to a request from Jesus. And the Spirit is pretty special because he speaks for us, helps us, and will always stay with us. Read this personally – The Spirit of Christ, sent by the Father, speaks for you, helps you, and will always stay with you. Has this been your experience? If not, perhaps you need to get to know Jesus even better and make sure that you truly love him and therefore keep his commands. Look deeper into your own heart and pay more attention to your daily experience on this journey with Jesus. (If you’re still in doubt, press the ‘Previous’ link twice and re-read the notes on verses 1-7.) The Spirit of Christ cannot be anything but the Spirit of Truth, because Jesus declared himself to be ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life’.

Pity the poor world! - ‘The world’ is a way of saying ‘worldly people’ – in other words people who know the world, but have little or no clue about Jesus. Knowing the world is our default position, as we grow and experience life, we get to know the world and its ways better and better. That’s life! But this knowing provides no way to become familiar with the Spirit of Truth.

But if you are following Jesus, you will see and know his Spirit because the Spirit lives with you – inside you.

Leaving us? - The disciples didn’t yet fully understand what was happening. Jesus is going to leave them, but not like children without parents. Verse 18 is very clear, Jesus absolutely and explicitly tells them that he, the Son, and the Spirit (his Spirit) are one. They are not quite the same, but they cannot be separated. Jesus has a human bodily form and therefore lives with, but outside, the disciples; the Spirit has no bodily form and will live inside the disciples. Not only that: they will realise that Jesus is in his Father, and he is also in them. If Jesus is in us and he is also in the Father, then we too are somehow part of their oneness!

Back to verse 15 - Verse 15 is reiterated in verse 21. If we have and keep Jesus’ commands, then we love him. And if we love Jesus, the Father will love us, Jesus will love us, and he’ll show himself to us. We are in such a safe place! All our lives we existed in a physical reality, but now we live in a spiritual reality as well!
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