For an introduction to this series, click here.
May 13, 2007
Well, if you haven't noticed, I've started posting these things in the morning. I find it's a lot better. There are a couple of unrelated reasons but there were lots of times when I got home late or tired and didn't feel like sitting down at the computer for 1/2 an hour.
Let's dig into Chapter 14. Remember this is after the Last Supper, which was in Chapter 13. That means this discourse happened either while they were still in the Upper Room or on the way to the Garden. The chapter ends with Jesus saying, "Rise, let us go from here." Whether that means they were leaving the Upper Room or if they had stopped along the way is not clear. And not all that relevant really. The important thing to remember is that this was the last night before Jesus' death.
Jesus begins with the famous discussion of heaven. "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going." (14:1-4) This should have been a comfort to the disciples, but instead they were listening to what He said about where he was going: "Thomas said to him, 'Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?'" (14:5) They knew something was up. They had no idea that by that time tomorrow Jesus would be dead, but they were aware something was different.
Of course Jesus responds with ""I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (14:6) Certainly this verse speaks to the exclusivity of the Gospel. But in context, Jesus is telling Thomas and the rest of the disciples that they don't need to worry about doing something special or mystical to see the Father. All they need to do is follow Jesus. And that is all we need to do today. Man has added so much to Christianity from all the Catholic superstitions to the health and wealth gospel to fundamentalist legalism. Christianity is the simplest religion in the world. It is just submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and letting Him bring about His will in our lives.
Jesus then tells the disciples about the Holy Spirit: "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." (14:15-17) I don't pretend to understand everything the Holy Spirit is and does. I do know that He is God and He indwells every believer. He is at work in our lives, urging us to live godly lives and helping us when we do the right thing.
The last part of this chapter continues the discussion, but it also sounds a lot like John's first epistle: "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." (14:23-26, ESV)
Whether that last sentence is directed specifically to the disciples, who were taught directly by Jesus and were responsible for establishing the doctrine of the church, or if it applies to all believers at all times, I am not sure. I do know that if it is a promise for us today, that is just one more encouragement to be in the Word constantly. And I think it can apply to us today, although it certainly applies more specifically to the Apostles. Have you ever met someone whose life is so saturated with the Bible that they can seemingly open it anywhere and start teaching or commenting? I'm a long way from that, but I would say that is one of my goals. I could tell you some stories about some people like that in my life. I learned so much from them, and I thank the Lord that He brought them into my life.