We're so happy you decided to join us today!
When we meet in person, we share our joys and concerns together. Take some time to consider the last week. What prayer requests do you have? If you have anything you would like to share, you can add a comment to this post. When you are ready, use the prayer below (source) to get started.
Father in heaven, king of glory, we adore your name and work to glorify you forever. It is through your will that we are alive and healthy today. Your Grace has allowed us to converge together. You have promised that whenever we call on your name, you will hear and answer us. Come into our midst, God, and have fellowship with us. Make your blessings abundant and grace us with your presence. From the start of this meeting to the end, glorify yourself and accept our prayers. Amen.
This week's lesson is on John 14:15-29.
We have spent the month of July reading the Gospel of John.
Today's passage takes place during the meal in the upper room in the week before his death. Directly before this, Jesus told his disciples that no one could come to the Father except through him. He also told his disciples that he was leaving. However, Jesus promised to send another: the Holy Spirit.
1. Promise of the Spirit
Jesus insists that love for him must be more than an emotion. The Biblical meaning of love includes loyalty and commitment. That is the kind of love Jesus meant when he declared that the greatest commandment is to love God with all one's heart, soul and mind. Our book notes that we need to be able to name Jesus' commandments if we are to obey them.
Jesus says that the Father will send an advocate, at least in the NIV. Other translations use "Helper," "Comforter," "Friend," or "Counselor." The Greek word being translated is often found in legal settings to refer to someone who goes to court with another to help plead a case. This advocate would be someone to take Jesus' place after his departure.
The advocate, the Holy Spirit, is also the spirit of truth. God is always true. In the Old Testament, the Spirit of God came upon individuals somewhat sporadically and temporarily. But for Christians, the Spirit will always be there. However, the Spirit will not dwell in those of the world because they cannot accept him. Jesus said the Spirit would be with the disciples, both present and future.
2. Assurance by the Son
In the Old Testament, God promised he would ever leave or forsake the children of Israel. Jesus makes a similar promise to his disciples. He will not abandon them, and he will come to them. Our book says that the promise to come to them could be interpreted in three ways: Jesus' second coming, the gift of the Holy Spirit, or Jesus' resurrection.
Because Jesus says the disciples will see him, our book suggests that Jesus' resurrection is the best of the three interpretations. His resurrection would give hope to the disciples: because I live, you also will live. His forthcoming victory over death will mean victory for all who follow him. This is also probably the day that the disciples would realize Jesus is in his Father.
Jesus then repeats the importance of keeping his commands. The teachings are not mere suggestions -- they are directives from the Lord to his servants. By keeping his commands, his servants show that they love him. Further, because of the oneness between Father and Son, to be loved by one is to be loved by the other.
Judas, also known as Thaddaeus, wanted to know why Jesus was not going to show himself to the world. Jesus again emphasized obeying his teaching as a simple fact. The Father will love the person who obeys. Then, both the Father and the Son will come to that person and will make their home with them. The emphasis here is on the intended permanence of the dwelling place.
3. Purpose of the Spirit
The Holy Spirit would continue to teach the disciples. The Holy Spirit would also remind the disciples of things previously heard and seen. Our book says that this would become the basis of the inspiration of the men who wrote the New Testament. Things that they did not now would be taught to them. Like the prophets of old, they would be moved by the Spirit to write the scripture.
In an indirect way, the work of the Spirit to teach and to remind is a promise to all of us. We have both scripture and the indwelling presence of the Spirit. We are lead toward the truth and to recall it.
4. Insight of Jesus
Jews at the time of Jesus customarily used peace as a word of both greeting and farewell. In this case, it was a farewell. But it would become a word of greeting again, after the resurrection. While the disciples were grieving the forthcoming loss of Jesus' companionship, they should have been glad. After all, Jesus was going to return to the Father.
Jesus has accepted that his then-current role as God incarnate would come to an end.
The disciples were surprised, and maybe even scared, that Jesus was going to leave them. If you keep reading, this continues both when the tomb is empty, and at the ascension. But just because he wasn't physically there didn't mean he had abandoned them.
One of the most precious promises in the Bible, stated in both the Old and New Testaments, is God's promise not to abandon his people. Even though we "walk through the darkest valley," our shepherd is with us. We are not forsaken.
One of the names of Jesus is Emmanuel, "God with us." That truth becomes real for believers in every generation. Because we have the divine presence of the Holy Spirit, we are never abandoned.
Father, help us sense the presence of your Spirit as it dwells within us. May we draw on its strength to show your Son's love daily through our obedience. Give us peace. Amen.
Questions for Discussion
This week's benediction is from the Psalter.
Next week's lesson will be on Revelation 21:1-9.
We are a small, rural Presbyterian church in southwestern Pennsylvania.