By Sam E. Stone
In his Gospel, the apostle John often focused on a central theme for an entire chapter (John 14, 15, 16, 17). The predominant note in John 14 is comfort. The setting is the night on which Jesus was betrayed. After instituting the Lord’s Supper in the upper room, Jesus and his disciples (except Judas) set out for the Garden of Gethsemane.
Throughout his three years with the disciples, Jesus had continued to reveal more about himself. On this night he had just told them that no one could come to the Father but by him (John 14:6). Then he added, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (v. 9). In this setting, the Master offered comfort and hope by promising them that the Holy Spirit would be with them when he went away.
Promise of the Spirit
Love for Jesus isn’t just a moment of emotion; rather it is a committed life of faithful service. William Hendriksen paraphrased the words of Jesus like this: “If with love that is both intelligent and purposeful you love me, you will accept, obey, and stand guard over the rules which I have laid down for the regulation of your inner attitudes and outer conduct.”
To those who keep his commands, the Lord will provide another advocate to help and be with them forever. He offers the divine aid and fellowship of the Holy Spirit as another companion in his place. This was proof of his love for the disciples, even though it was more than they could understand at that time.
“The Spirit of truth . . . lives with you and will be in you,” Jesus assured them. A. T. Robertson described him as “another of like kind, besides Jesus who becomes our Paraclete, Helper, Advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1; Romans 8:26).”
Presence of the Son
All of our hope is in Jesus. We have nothing to fear. He promised, “I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.” J. W. McGarvey noted that “the expression breathes the spirit of a father, as in John 13:33.” When Jesus said, “Because I live, you also will live,” this is our guarantee of eternal life. He is the guarantee of a better covenant (Hebrews 7:22), the risen Christ Jesus (John 6:57).
Then the Lord added, “Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.” His bodily resurrection three days after his death would serve to confirm all that he said. Earlier Jesus had spoken of his relationship with the Father (John 14:7-11). Here he assured them, “I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
Hendriksen reminds us that God’s love both precedes and follows ours. “By preceding our love, it breathes in us the eager desire to keep Christ’s precepts; then, by following our love, it rewards us for keeping them! Nothing could ever be more glorious than such an arrangement!”
One of the lesser known disciples, Judas (not Iscariot who betrayed him), asked why Jesus was shown to them and not the world. Once more Jesus commanded obedience (vv. 15, 21). Both the Father and the Son will be present in the life of a believer.
Purpose of the Spirit
John 14:25, 26
For some three years, Jesus had carefully taught his chosen disciples. Still they would need help in remembering, applying, and teaching all that he had said. The Lord reassured them by saying, “The Holy Spirit . . . will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” What a promise! The wisest person cannot remember everything that has been said or heard in one day. Who could remember every detail of all Jesus said and did over a period of three years? Only a person inhabited by the Holy Spirit.
Because the disciples were inspired by the Spirit, what they wrote and said about Jesus was always completely accurate. Seth Wilson applied this fact to us: “All Christians are certainly not expected to have the infallible inspiration and full authority to speak for Christ, which was promised to the apostles. However, we ought to claim for our own those promises that were made to all who love and obey Christ (John 14:23). The apostles taught that the Holy Spirit is given to those who obey Christ (Acts 2:38, 39; 5:32).”
Sam E. Stone is the former editor of Christian Standard. He continues his writing and speaking ministry from his home in Cincinnati, Ohio.