Text: John 14:23-29
23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.
Feeling: Is your heart sometimes troubled about something? Do you feel scared sometimes? There are so many uncertainties in life that we can hardly avoid feeling scared sometimes, and letting our troubles weigh us down. Sometimes we, like young children, are in need of the reasurance that we will be fine.
Story: A little boy was afraid of the dark. One night his mother told him to go out on the back porch and bring her the broom. The little boy turned to his mother and said, "Mama, I don't want to go out there. It's dark." The mother smiled reassuringly at her son. "You don't have to be afraid of the dark," she explained. "Jesus is out there. He'll look after you and protect you." The little boy looked at his mother real hard and asked, "Are you sure he's out there?" "Yes, I'm sure. He is everywhere, and He is always ready to help you when you need Him," she said. The little boy thought about that for a minute, then went to the back door and cracked it a little. Peering out into the darkness, he called, "Jesus? If you're out there, would you please hand me that broom?"
Major Concern of Text: When Jesus was saying farewell to his disciples, whom he taught and cared for with love and compassion, they were afraid. He was going to leave them in a dark and scarry world. As he was telling them that he needed to return to the heavenly father, Jesus promised to remain in them and to send the Holy Spirit, who would teach them and lead them in the way of truth.
Issue for today: Last words are very important to us. When a significant person in our lives dies, or leaves for an undetermined period of time, we remember his or her last words the best. Jesus left his disciples with the assurance of his continued presence with them. In fact he would remain in them as they remained in the world.
Context of Biblical Text: The writer of the Gospel of John was very selective in recording the words and works of Jesus Christ. His goal was that his readers might express faith in Jesus Christ and have life in His name (John 20:30, 31). After laying a solid theological foundation about who Jesus is (“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us”), John divides his Gospel into four major movements which are tailored according to his purpose: 1) Jesus' interaction with individuals (1:19-4); 2) Jesus' sayings and the opposition from religious leaders (5-12); 3) Jesus' personal instruction to the twelve (13-17); 4) Jesus' passion (18- 21).
John 14:1-16:33 is Jesus' Farewell speech. Jesus speaks to the disciples in preparation for the coming events of his death, resurrection, and ascension. In this dialogue with the disciples Jesus answered a number of questions that they most likely asked of him.
"I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am there you may be also." (14:3).
"Can we go with you?"
"Where I am going you cannot come." [13:33]
"How long will you be gone?"
"A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while and you will see me." [14:19]
"Who will take care of us?"
"I will ask the Father, and he will give you another “Paraclete”, to be with you forever." [14:16]
Jesus promises another Paraclete. And you may be wondering what a Paraclete is. The Greek word paraclete offers many possible translation. The Paraclete is not a little yellow bird. Paracletes are not those things on the bottom of football and soccer shoes.
The literal meaning of the related verb (parakaleo) means "to call to one's side" - in connection with asking the other for help - the word took on a legal meaning as a "helper in court". Thus we have translations like "counselor," "advocate," or "one who speaks for another" as well as the general translation of "helper".
This word occurs five times in the NT. It is used in 1John 2:1 to refer to Jesus; and four times in John's Farewell Discourse (14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). The special function of the Paraclete is to teach and remind the disciples of the teaching of Jesus.
This Holy Spirit, Comforter, Helper and Guide is the same Spirit that was present in Jesus’ life. He also lives in us.
Major concern of the text.
When Jesus announces that he is going away, the disciples ask where he is going. They ask about the way. They are also reassured that Jesus won’t stay away. He will come again. This is traditionally referred to as the second coming (14:3). Jesus reassures his disciples in 14:18 that he will not leave them as orphans, but will come to them. In vs. 19 Jesus declares that in ‘a little while’ they shall see him.
One of the disciples asks the question in 14:22, ‘How is it that you are going to show yourself to us and not to the world?’ 14:21: Jesus shows himself to those who keep his commandments, those who love him and who are loved by the Father.
Those who show that they love Jesus by keeping his word will be loved by God. God and Jesus will come and make their dwelling in them. This echoes the thought expressed in 14:2 where Jesus says that in his Father’s house are many dwelling places, speaking there of heaven. Here, in 14:24 this image is given a new twist: we are to be the dwelling places of God and Jesus! With that the traditional second coming is also given a new twist: Jesus (and God) will come again to these kinds of people; those who love God and keep his commandments.
The attention moves in vs. 25-26 to the Spirit. Paul also believed that Christ dwells in us through the Spirit: 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (see Romans 8:15).
Jesus is above all the helpful instructor and teacher (the paraclete), and so, the Spirit (the other paraclete of 14:16) will also play that role. The verse emphasises that the Spirit will teach us nothing other than what Jesus taught us.
As disciples of Jesus who live in a dark and scarry world we are not to surrender to hopelessness and despair. ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled’ (14:28) is Jesus’ word of comfort. Jesus urged the disciples: ‘Believe in God and believe in me!’ Jesus is going to God and is coming again to them. Like the disciples, we are encouraged to believe that God is great and will start something which will reach out across the world by sending the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will make God’s presence to the disciples real as they keep Jesus’ word and engage in his mission.
John pictures those who keep Jesus’ word as God’s dwelling places in the world. You and I are the place in which God dwells. “Christ Liveth in me,” we sing. Loving Jesus and keeping his word means that we live out God’s offer of love to the world.
John does not abandon the traditional ideas of the second coming and heaven, but he does put the emphasis on the here and now. In the face of world that rejects Jesus as the Saviour, we are called to be people who serve as dwelling places for God. The image is not of dwelling places huddled away from the dangers, being a city for themselves, but of dwellings in the midst of life. After all, the God who takes up board and lodging is the guest who refreshes our souls and encourages us to come out of ourselves and join in the adventure of bringing healing and hope into a hurting world.
Ultimately our Christian joy comes not only from the promise of what lies beyond death, although that is clearly part of our faith. Our Christian joy comes also from a sense of the presence of God, and of Jesus and of the Holy Spirit in our present realities of life.
John’s point here is that as we live towards our eternal goal in heaven, where Jesus is preparing a room for you and me, we should focus our lives on Being the dwelling place of God on earth. As Jesus prepares a room for you and me in heaven, let us concentrate on our task to live out our lives in such a way that others may see that Christ lives in us.
Opening remarks: Like the little boy in our opening story, we would sometimes like to stay out of the dark and scarry world. However, Jesus promises that he will be there with us, wherever we meet the world. God, in Jesus Christ, lives in us as a gentle, comforting and encouraging host. When the Spirit of the living God lives in us, there is no longer any reason to let our hearts be troubled. Whatever may befall us in life, we can be confident that God is never far away.
Let us keep our life as a worthy dwelling place of God.