“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone 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. John 14:15-24
Observation: What are the passage’s basic facts, such as the meaning of the words? Jesus’s promise to give His disciples the Holy Spirit came with two clauses. The first clause is the ‘love clause.’ The second is the obedience clause. Both clauses are explicitly stated in verse 15.
Jesus’ ministry was grounded in love as reflected in John 3:16. But that love was a challenging concept for His disciples to comprehend. Because of their socio-cultural-political limitations, the disciples struggled to own that love and share it with others. They were still looking at their world in terms of Jews and Gentiles. Therefore, Jesus challenged them to prioritize love over everything so they can be effective in their discipleship work. But that love begins with a love for Jesus. After all, Jesus had shown the disciples and done for them, if they could not love Him, their discipleship ministry was invalid and would be fruitless.
Jesus also made it clear the disciples could not receive the Holy Spirit without a profound love for Him and a willingness to keep His commands. The two are inseparable. It is our love for Jesus that compels us to keep His commands, especially when these commands challenge our human frailties.
Interpretation: What did the author mean in his historical setting? The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of love and truth. His primary ministry is to help believers walk in the truth of God with love. The world cannot accept the Holy Spirit because He helps believers to keep the commands of Jesus and walk in truth (v. 17). The Holy Spirit remains inactive in unbelievers’ hearts because they are not inclined to keep Jesus’ commands. However, those who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior are guaranteed the gift of the Holy Spirit to help them keep Jesus’ commands.
In verse 18, Jesus reasserted His promise of the Holy Spirit to the disciples. It is as if Jesus sensed the fear in the heart of the disciples. He spoke to them not as a rabbi/Messiah, but as a father. He told them, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” This is a perplexing statement given the fact Jesus already told the disciples He was going away to prepare a place for them.
The conversation continues in verse 19, where Jesus—the good Father—told His disciples that despite His imminent departure, He wasn’t going to forsake them. That is where the gift of the Holy Spirit becomes vital. It is through His Holy Spirit the disciples would see Jesus and remain in His presence. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ through whom the presence of Jesus was going to live with and in the disciples.
Evaluation: What does this passage mean in today’s culture? In verse 21, Jesus reemphasizes the two clauses He introduced in verse 15. Jesus understood the disciples’ religious context was legalistic. Religious Jews were expected to keep the commands of the Torah. Their socio-cultural context was built on strict adherence to the Torah. What Jesus is telling the disciples is not new to them. However, Jesus wanted them to switch their allegiance from obeying the Torah to obeying His commands.
Jesus reiterated to His disciples that love should define their ministry and discipleship. He elevated the discourse in verse 21 by tying in. Jesus knew it would be possible for the disciples to do His great commission work without obeying His commands. He wanted them to go throughout the world to make disciples. That was a challenging command they could only keep His commands if they loved Him. In return, they will be loved by the Father and the Son
In verse 22, one of the disciples sought clarity about what Jesus said in verse 19. He wanted to know how Jesus was going to show Himself to them and not the world. Jesus did precisely that after His resurrection. However, what Jesus meant was that the disciples would see Him through His Holy Spirit, which the world did not have.
In verse 23, Jesus adds another layer to His discourse and told the disciples they must obey His teachings. Granted, everything Jesus commanded His disciples to do is captured in His teachings. But His teachings were far more comprehensive and detailed than His commands. Jesus only gave His disciples two commands- love God and love others. But His teachings covered a plethora of topics including faith, prayer, salvation, truth, the Holy Spirit, baptism, etc.
Application: How can I apply what I learned to how I live my life? The Holy Spirit that was promised to the disciples is also gifted to every believer. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit we can do the will of God and keep Jesus’ commands. Without the Holy Spirit, believers would easily forsake their confession of faith and be led astray by the prince of darkness.
Believers are called to live a Spirit-led life so they can bear spiritual fruits to the glory of God. We also need the Holy Spirit to intercede for us in front of the Father as well as reveal the will of the Father for us. It is, therefore, necessary for believers to cultivate holiness and sanctification so their lives can be led by the Spirit.
Prayer- Blessed Lord, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit you gave to me and all your disciples. Sanctify my spirit so I can be a holy vessel for your Holy Spirit.