John 14: 15-31

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

Understanding And Applying the Text

John packed this passage tight with doctrine. It is so full it is beneficial that we read it over and over again. Even so, we will only begin to grasp what it contains. The very first sentence explains love. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Then again in verse 21. “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.”

Love or worship is not an emotion. Worship is not building ourselves into an emotional frenzy. Worship is keeping Christ commands. The knee-jerk reaction to this is “that is legalism.” No, that is love. Christ does not say nor implies keeping His commands save us. We keep His commands because we love Him. Keeping His commands shows our love for Him.

The disciples loved Christ. That love was sincere. Yet, they mixed it with superstition. We often do the same. How often have you heard, “If you do what is right, God will reward you.” “Bad things happen because you were disobedient in some way.” Or, “God is trying to teach you something.” That puts us at the center of the universe rather than God. It treats God as a mechanical being. We try to make deals with God. “If I do A God will do B.” That is 100% pure superstition. That is also blasphemy.

Christ redirects us to doing what we do out of love. We keep His commandments not to get something but because we love Him. It is not a quid pro quo. We keep the commands of God only to the extent we love Him. No one keeps Christ’s commands all the time in every way. Yet, those who are sincere in this aim please God.

The disciples were, as we are, sinners. They could not keep Christ’s commandments. So, Christ promised to give them strength to keep the commandments. If Christ did not send the Holy Spirit the disciples could not obey. Christ’s exhortation would be of no effect.

Christ calls the Holy Spirit another comforter. The Holy Spirit and Christ do not execute the same office. They are different. Christ appeased the wrath of God by atoning for the sins of the world. The Holy Spirit makes us partakers of all the blessings of Christ.

The world does not and cannot receive the Holy Spirit. God’s bestows the gift of grace only on His elect. The Holy Spirit is no ordinary gift. The Holy Spirit makes Himself known to us by dwelling in us. Not only can the world not receive the Holy Spirit, He is unknown to the world.

Christ promised He would not leave His disciples to fend for themselves. With the phrase, “I will not leave you as orphans,” He promised He would return. Christ reminded His disciples of their dependence on Him. They were too weak to fulfill Christ’s commands. Christ promised them a solution. First, He will return. And second, in the meantime, He sends another comforter.

It is understandable why the disciples were a little confused. The world would not see Him but the disciples would see Him. We know the end of the story so we understand Jesus would die and rise from the dead. He would reveal Himself only to a few. He would not reveal himself to the world. Christ revealing Himself is a special gift of grace given to the elect. Thus, believers always have Christ present by His Spirit.

Christ told the disciples they live because He lives. The source and cause of our life is Christ. To have life, we must fix our eyes on Christ. Christ conveys His life to us by grace through faith. Faith is the instrument which conveys the God’s grace. Yet even our faith is a gift from God. It is not something we generate ourselves. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

It is our nature to slide into sin. Our natural desire is to love something other than Christ. Yet we do so even under the name of Christ. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” (Romans 5:10a) “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

There is no doubt knowledge precedes love. We must know Christ before we can love Him. As we know Christ better, we are able to love Him more. Thus, sanctification includes progress in knowledge of Christ.

Judas (not Iscariot) asked a question that many have asked through the centuries. “Why only the elect? Why not the whole world?” Christ’s reply was not a direct answer. Christ implies the reason is the world does not love Him so He does not give the gift of the Spirit. But we do not love Christ until He changes us. So while it is an answer, it is an incomplete answer. Christ purpose was to encourage His disciples. It was not to give a dissertation on election. The answer is, as Paul says in almost every letter He writes, God chooses whom He chooses. We have no right to know why.

Christ responds to Judas was as if He said don’t worry about it. We should learn to be satisfied with the fact there are some things we are not to know. We can devise reasons why it would be beneficial for us to know. “We would better understand the nature of God. If we knew why we could better obey his commands.” The reasons can go on and on. But God has seen fit not to reveal them. As Calvin said, “Where God closes His holy mouth, I will desist from inquiry.”

Christ’s response was to reiterate that we are to keep His commandments. Whoever keeps His commandments loves Him. And whoever loves Him, the Father loves. We can rest in this. Any obedience rendered to the Gospel pleases God.

Christ taught His disciples many things. How can we be sure what they remembered was what Christ taught? Christ tells us. The Holy Spirit would cause them to remember what He said to them. Also, Christ is teaching that we teach and preach in vain without the work of the Holy Spirit. God has two ways of teaching, The first is by men preaching and teaching His word. Second, He teaches by His Spirit. He may do this at the same moment in time. Or He may do it at separate times, as He sees fit.

Note, what Christ says the Spirit will do. The Spirit does not reveal new truth. The Holy Spirit reminds us what Christ taught. With this one phrase, we can refute all the inventions Satan has brought to the Church. This applies to both Rome and Protestant. Any doctrine or invention which does not come from the Gospel is not from the Spirit of Christ. Any new teaching is not of the Holy Spirit. It is from the devil.

Christ told the disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” Christ is using a custom or phrase of the time to say farewell. This was common in that day. He was going to leave them. But He is not leaving them without hope. “Not as the world gives do I give to you”

Aryans and Jehovah Witnesses have miss used the phrase, “Father is greater than I”. They claim this is as evidence Christ is either not divine or a lesser deity. The early orthodox Fathers explain this in clear terms. This phrase refers to Christ’s human nature. Christ was not showing how He differs from the Father. He explained why He descended to us and unites with us. Christ compared His present state and the glory to the glory He would soon receive.

Christ understood His death would cause doubt in His disciples. And in fact, it did. But He told them it was going to happen so they would believe. And in fact, after the resurrection, they remembered He had told them and they believed.

Christ told His disciples He was going away. Satan was coming for Him. Satan had no power to take Him. But Christ would go because it pleased the Father. Christ called Satan the prince of this world. Satan does not have a kingdom separate from God. But God allows Satan to exercise his tyranny over the world. We suffer this punishment because of our sin. Adam introduced sin to the human race. And we add to it daily. Thus our punishment is just.

Christ obedience to the Father demonstrated His love of the Father. The passage ends as it begins. Love is not an emotional feeling. It causes action. It causes obedience. Christ’s love for the Father demonstrates to the entire world He loved the Father.

Christ’s death reconciled us to the Father. Christ’s love caused Him to sacrifice for us in obedience to the Father. Pray that God fills you with love for Him so you may obey Christ. Because we cannot do it on our own.

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