John 14:15-21 (ESV)
Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,[a] to be with you forever, 17 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[b] in you.
18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 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.”
Two weeks ago we spoke about «the Good Shepherd«, and how we have protection, guidance, purpose, security, blessing, and healing every single day. During this, we spoke about the Omni-Presence of God in all of life: I AM the way, the truth and the life. It is the breath of life that we breath each moment of every day.
Last week, María de Lourdes spoke to us about 1 Corinthians 13, and the love that we need to have in our lives. More particularly, she spoke about how one of the translations for 1 Corinthians 13 is not whether we «have» love, but rather «I am» or «being» love. So verses one to three of 1 Corinthians changed from:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but I am not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but I am not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but I am not love, I gain nothing.
And so today, in John 14, verse 15 we read:
«If you love me, you will keep my commandments.»
Which commandments, well, quite simply the most important two that Jesus identifies, which sum up all of the prophets and the law:
«Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.»
This reminds me a little bit of the safety briefing you receive when you are sitting on the airplane, waiting to take off.
In the event of sudden loss of cabin pressure individual oxygen masks will automatically drop from the panel above your head.
If this happens, remain seated and pull down firmly one mask to start the flow of oxygen.
Place the mask over your nose and mouth and breathe normally.
Secure the mask, using the strap and adults traveling with young children, please attend to your own mask first.
Before you can love others, you need to have God’s love filling you and your own life. And so, I am struck by this passage we read in John 14, where Jesus assures us, time and time again, that we are going to have help, and that God will not just be with us, but in us! Sunday, June 4th, is Pentecost Sunday – when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit as promised by the prophet Joel:
«And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh…» (Joel 2: 28-29)
So, in this passage in John, we find Jesus making a promise to the disciples, that God, represented by the Holy Spirit will be IN us – not just with us!
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,[a] to be with you forever, 17 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[b] in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”
How are we meant to interpret this statement from Jesus: to be «in the Father», and us to be «in Jesus» and Jesus to be «in us»? I made the mistake of doing a Google search for «What does it mean to be in God?», and the search results came up as:
- What does it mean to serve God?
- What does it mean to Seek the Lord?
- What it means to be God’s Woman
- What does it mean to be in the presence of God?
- What does it mean to be God-centered?
- What does it mean to walk with God?
In John 14, Jesus didn’t say ANY of those things… he said «in», not serve, not seek, not in the presence of, not God-centered, not walk with… he said «in» God. So, I changed the search: «What does it mean to have God in me?» And once again, the first result from Google seemed to ignore my question!
- What does it mean that God is with us?
I didn’t ask that – I said «God in us».
But, the results after that were a little different and more to the point:
- Christ in us – from Life, Hope & Truth
- How can God be inside us? – and that’s from the newspaper Telegraph
- 8 verses that show Jesus Christ Lives in You
- Greater is He that is in Me (the Real Meaning of 1 John 4:4)
- Union with God – the Way to Righteousness
- What does abiding in Christ mean?
So, out of curiosity I went with the verses that mention Christ living within us, and then found some more:
- John 15: 5 – I am the vine and you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit
- John 17:21 – that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us…
- John 17:23 – I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
- 1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you…
- Romans 8: 10 – But if Christ is in you… the spirit is life…
- 2 Corinthians 13:5 – Or do you not realise about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you?
- Galatians 4:19 – Christ is formed in you
- Ephesians 3:17 That Christ may make his home in your hearts
- Colossians 1:27 Christ in you, the hope of glory
- Galatians 2:20 – It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me
These verses are not talking about the Holy Spirit within, they speak of Christ being within. Of Oneness with God, with Christ and with the Holy Spirit. John chapter 1, verse one starts with:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Jesus, the Word, was with God and was God. And Jesus promises the disciples this same level and quality of oneness or union with God.
How is your relationship with God? Do you speak to God as «You/Thou», as if God were separate from you? Why the separation? What is standing between you and perfect oneness with God? I want us to take a moment and just contemplate this…
I don’t know what your experience of this is, but I can tell you mine:
That same separateness from God is exactly what separates me from others. Whatever barriers I have between me and another person, are the same barriers between me and oneness with God. When I experience, however fleeting, oneness with God, I experience that same love and oneness with others! And each barrier that I allow to arise between me and another person, is the same barrier I experience when I try to turn back to God!
And how do we attain that oneness? In stillness and quiet: in opening our hearts and spirits to God and saying «I want to become One». Does it come at a price? Yes – you may have to set your ego and pride aside. You might have to deal with pain and hurt that you have been carrying. There are many things you may have to let go of in order to obtain that. Remember the rich young ruler – he was happy to fulfill the commandments, but when Jesus asked him to sell all he had, and give it to the poor, he went away sorrowfully – he wasn’t willing to let that go.
I would invite you this week to do a simple exercise, for just one minute, five times a day: when you awake, at each meal and before you go to sleep. For just one minute, take a moment to be present, in the moment, and on each in-breath say «God is…» and on each out breath say «I am…». Ideally, if you were to add, God is «love», you should be able to say «I am love», and if you were to say «God is kind», you should be able to say «I am kind». But for now, just try this – 5 minutes a day. «God is… I am…». And just be aware of any responses or reactions that you feel, which may be the Spirit telling you what you need to deal with in your life.