John Chapter 16
John 16:1-33 NLTse “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith. (2) For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. (3) This is because they have never known the Father or me. (4) Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning. I didn’t tell you earlier because I was going to be with you for a while longer. (5) “But now I am going away to the One who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. (6) Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you. (7) But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. (8) And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. (9) The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. (10) Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. (11) Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged. (12) “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. (13) When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. (14) He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. (15) All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’ (16) “In a little while you won’t see me anymore. But a little while after that, you will see me again.” (17) Some of the disciples asked each other, “What does he mean when he says, ‘In a little while you won’t see me, but then you will see me,’ and ‘I am going to the Father’? (18) And what does he mean by ‘a little while‘? We don’t understand.” (19) Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant? I said in a little while you won’t see me, but a little while after that you will see me again. (20) I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. (21) It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. (22) So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. (23) At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. (24) You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy. (25) “I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father. (26) Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, (27) for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God. (28) Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.” (29) Then his disciples said, “At last you are speaking plainly and not figuratively. (30) Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.” (31) Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? (32) But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. (33) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
How many chapters in the Bible begin like this one? “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith.” What does that say to you? Shouldn’t we go back and and review what Jesus told them? Let me ask you a question first. How much do you remember? ……… Do you think we need a review?
Do you remember how Jesus began this discussion? “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:1-2 NLTse). But wait, we have to go back to the beginning of this long lesson John recorded. Call it respect. Do you remember where this lesson began? Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. (John 13:1 NLTse).
These become really serious lessons when we look back at them with the context of chapter 16. “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith.” Jesus told them all those things He taught and all those lessons were given to them so they wouldn’t abandon their faith.
What is that foot washing lesson teaching us about keeping our faith? If you don’t know, there is a lot you have to review. Jesus told them, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” When will that day come?
Don’t feel bad. The disciples didn’t understand either. So Jesus explain the meaning. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” (John 13:13-15 NLTse). Now all you have to do is experience the act to learn the lesson. It is a personal lesson no one can explain. The fact of the matter is, Jesus washed their feet to show them the close relationship He wanted with them. So He did something they would never forget. Do you remember what it’s like to be in love? It’s not unusual to do something for the one your in love with they will never forget.
Jesus also wanted them to learn how to serve each other. Learn that process. Love Jesus. Help people close to you and encourage them. That will make you ready to help people you meet along life’s road.
Jesus told them the love they show for one another will prove to the world whose disciples they are. Their knowledge of the Bible, doctrines and traditions they keep won’t prove a thing. Only that love they show for each other will prove it. No wonder the work is progressing so slow.
Then Jesus told them about that house He is building for them. This is my favorite part. I like thinking about that house and some of its features from time to time. If nothing else, that helps keep my faith strong. It helps me from being discouraged. It helps me build and maintain a vision of Heaven.
That’s when Jesus told us, He is just like His Father. Or we can look at it as God is just like Jesus. Can you imagine a God, the God and Creator of the universe is a servant just like Jesus? Is God really as simple and unassuming as Jesus? Is God really willing to give up everything for us on this tiny little planet in this solar system? That’s hard to imagine. It is worth keeping the faith just to see God, meet Him, to find out He is as humble and patient as Jesus.
Jesus emphasized the point, He is just like His Father and His Father is just like Him, and repeated it a number of times so His disciples would remember the lesson. Jesus knew what was about to happen to Him. The detail that haunts me is how Jesus remained silent throughout His trials. Not just one trial, but the trial in front of the priests, Pilate, Herod, and Pilate again. Four trials and hardly a word. Do you some times feel Jesus is silent when you pray?
There is a lesson in Jesus’ silence far deeper than we can imagine, but shouldn’t be difficult for us to figure out. First we have to put ourselves aside to understand why Jesus is silent when we pray. By ourselves, I mean our selfishness. We always seem to pray like it is all about us. Make my life more comfortable. Help me with this. Give me that. And to be safe, we close with, “if it’s your will.” And of course, I think most people have been taught to add, “in Jesus’ name,” at the end of every prayer. It may seem strange, Jesus told us in those chapters, if we ask anything in His name it will be given to us. But let’s back up a little here.
When we pray in God’s will, are we listening in God’s will? We are in John chapter 16 in this book. Are there any examples where Jesus told anyone how to make their life more comfortable, or gave them anything like we ask for, lowered taxes, solved a dispute, gave advice, or told them what to do next in life? There’s not one example of any of that happening. Don’t stretch the healing Jesus did as a license to ask for specific things in your life, not material things. Don’t look at the advice Jesus gave Nicodemus or the woman in Samaria as a sign Jesus tells you want to do in life. Jesus offered knowledge, and pointed them to God’s Spirit. Jesus gave us few simple processes to follow to reach out to people. Those stories were recorded for us to learn from. The lessons are so vast, distinct, and personal, no one can list all of the details or lessons.
It seems like when we pray for answers in our own lives, Jesus goes as silent as He was in those trials. Why? What were those people trying to do? I don’t want to jump ahead at this point to study specific details, but we will look at the general back ground.
The priests made up their minds and decided on a verdict before Jesus’ trial. This is how a lot of people pray. Why would Jesus defend himself in front of a room full of priests who made up their minds before He was delivered to the masquerade party they called a trial? Prayers can become much like that trial. Minds are made up before a request is made and people want God to perform a predetermined outcome.
I am going to skip to Herod next. He wanted Jesus to preform a miracle. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because He didn’t really believe in Jesus. Herod had a lust for power and he would have used Jesus’ ability to perform miracles to his advantage. Herod was a fool. He never thought things through. His wife tricked him into killing John the Baptist.
Pilate on the other hand had a desire to know the truth. Like Herod, Pilate heard every detail about Jesus. It was their job to know everything that went on under their jurisdiction. Their lives depended on it. But Pilate really wanted to know. Pilate was fairly, but not completely convinced Jesus was from God. Pilate didn’t want to kill Jesus, but eventually caved into pressure. Even if Jesus told us what to do next, would we do it, or cave into the pressures of the world? Remember, the enemy is always trying to stay a step ahead. Just a side note here. Did you notice a parallel to prayer and the parable of the farmer sowing seeds?
When we pray in God’s will, why don’t we look into scripture to find out what His will is? God had sixty six books written by dozens of inspired authors over I don’t know how many generations. All of those books contain stories about people and most of those books, maybe all of them contain prophecies about Jesus or their recorded fulfillment. Put them all together and we can easily see how Jesus understood what was going to happen and why. Jesus also saw what He needed to do. How many times did Jesus ask His disciples if they saw Him? He meant actually saw Him. If they searched the scriptures, they would have seen the real Jesus and what was about to happen. Look at where this lesson is placed and tell me you can’t see the spiritual significance.
How many times did Jesus tell His disciples to be just like God over the past few chapters? If we’re supposed to be like Jesus, where will we find answers to our prayers? The same place Jesus found them, in scripture.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans–I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:12-20 NLTse).
I never saw this before until the first verse in John chapter 16 lit up like a neon sign. “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith.” Looking back we can see the details unfold. Jesus knew what was about to happen. Scripture verified what was about to happen after that dinner. God’s Word is one of the keys to hearing God’s voice in prayer.
Jesus next talked about following the commandments. There is also a process to follow in prayer as well as studying scripture. God followed all of His commandments as faithfully as He follows His process in prayer, writing, and understanding scripture. God established His own process, rules, and we can call them laws when He dictated His inspired Word to His faithful servants.
Jesus introduced another key to both prayer and understanding scripture, the Holy Spirit. “He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.” I also noticed a process Jesus told us about concerning the Holy Spirit. First the Spirit will lead or guide us. Then the same Spirit will teach us. “When the Father sends the Advocate as my representative–that is, the Holy Spirit–he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” He teaches us by reminding us about everything Jesus told us. Do you see the process?
Jesus would not have told us about the commandments, God perfect law and order, if He didn’t want us to learn from it, and apply the same lesson to the subject that followed, God’s Spirit. Jesus just showed how God’s Spirit follows the command to follow a specific order. First to guide, then teach by reminding us. How can we remember something we have not already seen, heard about, or read?
This process tells us, God’s Spirit has to first introduce us to scripture. Then we have to go back and be taught. Then we review, and of course learn more. The same is true after we’ve read through the Bible many times. The process repeats every time a new subject is introduced. First we are guided to a subject. We are guided to a process to examine that story, parable, or lesson. Then we are taught the spiritual meaning. Much of what we are taught is based on how much we remember. I prefer to look at it in simple terms, how much we review. If we had not followed instructions in the beginning of John 16, we would have missed a vast array of lessons. We’ve been shown the lesson by example. God’s Word first sent us back to review. Our review showed us all the steps involved. It begins with recognizing the need to serve one another. We have to learn to love each other. This is how the world will see our connection with Jesus. We’re also told God and Jesus are one, and we are one in them. Our connection to God has to remain strong. We pray in God’s will, which includes praying, listening, and hearing God’s voice like Jesus did. We have to follow God’s commandments. This gets us in a position to study scripture which is one of the most important steps. Another step, just as important as reading scripture is to be first guided, then taught by God’s Spirit. Remembering everything Jesus taught is one more step in the process. This is how the Spirit communicated with Jesus, taught Him, prepared Him for the tasks He had to preform that day, as well prepared Him for all those trials He faced. Scripture and God’s Spirit played the main role in Jesus’ knowledge of what He was going to face. God would not change His established process because we don’t want to follow it, or create our own process. If we’re asking God to bless us, or give us things, should we follow God’s process, or our own. Has following your own process worked?
When we get to chapter 15, we’re given a parable telling us how branches, our habits need to be trimmed away. When you pray to God, you better be ready to hear about habits you need to remove from your life. That is part of the process.
Jesus wants us to understand that trimming process. So He explained how it is done with love. Jesus explained how He loves the disciples, and how God loves them. Jesus also explained how we need to love each other. When we pray, we just can’t pray about ourselves. We have to remember to pray for our enemies.
Jesus told them how this change will bring joy. Could love bring anything else? These simple steps will free us from the slavery imposed by this world. All of these aspects are important parts of prayer. Jesus saved the most important detail for last. Jesus repeated the command to search scripture, and learn what they say about Himself. Jesus also repeated the other most important part of prayer, God’s Spirit. Those two are the most important parts.
I know from experience, when I pray about myself, or problems, I seldom hear God’s voice. But I still go through the process everyday to ask to be forgiven. Then I go through subjects bothering me. I pray about people I know and their needs. But I don’t hear God’s voice at that point. But when I pray about scripture I’m studying or about to write about the next day, God’s voice is loud and clear. I can clearly hear God describe the scene. I can see the people there, and Jesus. He tells me what is on His mind when He was talking to people, and what He hoped they would learn. I can see the expressions on their faces, and see the reaction to what Jesus is teaching, especially when He pauses.
The point is, Jesus always loves to talk about scripture. The key is, if Jesus is going to answer questions about our lives, or people we pray for, He will give us answers the same way God answered Jesus’ prayers, through scripture and the Spirit.
Although learning to listen to God’s Spirit in prayer and finding out how He communicates with you about your personal questions through scripture is important, we have a whole chapter to study. The best place to begin at in the introduction.
I Have Told You These Things
John 16:1-4 NLTse “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith. (2) For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. (3) This is because they have never known the Father or me. (4) Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning. I didn’t tell you earlier because I was going to be with you for a while longer.
The first thing I want to do is jump to the summation and compare it to this introduction. This will tell us if we are dealing with contrasts or the lessons build to a climax.
Then his disciples said, “At last you are speaking plainly and not figuratively. (30) Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.” (31) Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? (32) But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. (33) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Jesus began by telling His disciples the lessons He taught that day were meant to reinforce their faith. Jesus didn’t want to loose any of them. He already lost one disciple. Jesus told them what was going to happen. Jesus not only saw what was going to happen to Himself, He also know what was going to happen to His disciple. So he warned them. As we’ve already seen, Jesus also taught them how to pray and listen to God. Jesus didn’t directly explain that prayer process, but He included all the steps and requirements.
The world will persecute them because the world won’t understand what their teaching, how, or where they got their information and instructions from. At this point, Jesus didn’t explain all the details, but He did tell them what they needed to know, to remain faithful.
Jesus not only wanted them to remember His warning but everything He taught them. After His resurrection, Jesus explained everything in greater detail than what has been recorded. That’s why we need God’s Spirit, who will first guide us to find that information, then teach us what it means.
Jesus’ disciples told Jesus they understood. They understood Jesus talked in symbols. That explained why the world can’t understand. The disciples commented on of the most important steps, to believe Jesus came from God. Jesus questioned them. Did they really believe? They needed that belief to face the future.
Jesus told them they would be scattered, each disciple going his own way. Jesus was talking about His arrest when the disciples ran off and left Him alone. When we look back, we see a sequence. Judas betrayed Jesus. The disciples abandoned Jesus and Peter denied Him. Things did not look good. It was almost as if God had to start over.
Both the introduction and summation dwelt with problems and trials the disciples would see. Jesus was trying to prepare them. First He tried to prepare them for what was about to happen to Him. Then Jesus tried to prepare the disciples for what was about to happen to them. Usually Jesus put His disciples first. He followed the same process here. Jesus knew how His death was going to crush their hopes and dreams, how they would feel when they lost their friend, and how confused they would be by loosing their leader. If your confused, I would suggest you go back and review those chapters and pray about them. Approach God’s throne and let Him explain the details.
We also have to see how Jesus led into this phase of the lesson by reviewing how chapter 15 ended. We also have to keep in mind how this is one long lesson and consider it as a whole. That is why Jesus reminded the disciples He told them important information.
“They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the One who sent me. They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. Anyone who hates me also hates my Father. If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’ “But I will send you the Advocate–the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry.” (John 15:21-27 NLTse).
Now we see how Jesus reminded His disciples about what He told them in between His warnings about what they were going to face. Jesus actually pointed out the prophecy they fulfilled. Jesus repeated the promise of God’s Spirit and added another role the Spirit fulfills, their testimony about Jesus. This is where Jesus introduced the disciple’s role of also being a witness for Him. Not at His trial, but after His resurrection as history has shown.
Looking at the introduction of chapter 16 and its summation, then comparing them to the summation in chapter 15, we can’t help but notice how Jesus repeated the same details. He did this to draw attention to them. Jesus repeated the most important details a number of times. When we consider chapter 13 to 17 one long lesson, we can’t help but see how Jesus followed basic rules of context, repeating not only key words, but phrases, and subjects.
I Am Going Away
John 16:5-9 NLTse “But now I am going away to the One who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. (6) Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you. (7) But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. (8) And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. (9) The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me.
Is this like deja vu all over again. I’m sure you feel like you’ve heard this before. As a matter of fact, this is the third time Jesus brought up the subject of going away.
Jesus made these statements while he was teaching in the section of the Temple known as the Treasury. But he was not arrested, because his time had not yet come. Later Jesus said to them again, “I am going away. You will search for me but will die in your sin. You cannot come where I am going.” The people asked, “Is he planning to commit suicide? What does he mean, ‘You cannot come where I am going‘?” Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:20-24 NLTse)
“I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe. “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going. (John 14:27-31 NLTse)
In fact, Jesus repeated the words going away four times in chapter 16. All together, the term is repeated nine times. When Jesus repeats Himself, it is time to pay attention. What is the significance of the term? Why did Jesus repeat it so much?
Jesus first introduced the term when He was teaching inside the temple court. Jesus used the term to convey a somber message. Jesus told those people in the courtyard, they couldn’t follow Him, and they would die in their sins. The simple lesson was, they were from this world, and He was from above.
Jesus also used the term, “I am going away,” earlier in this lesson. The message to His disciples was a contrast to the message given to those people in the courtyard. Jesus told His disciples about the gift of peace He will return with. He also explained where He was going, to be with His Father. But Jesus included a warning when He told His disciples He was leaving. He told them about Satan coming. Later Jesus added more details about what they would face.
Because Jesus included a contrast, it’s easy to see some people accept Jesus’ resurrection and other won’t. That’s a detail easy to apply to stories telling about when Jesus rose from that tomb, but holds more of a spiritual meaning today. Because we don’t have eye witnesses today, we have to go by recorded words and faith. Which is easier to come by and which is easier to believe? Most people would assume the written word. But how many people actually read God’s Word? Most of the Christian world never read the Bible. They may have heard sermons and a few verses, but their only experience with Jesus’ resurrection comes from a movie or two. What kind of a relationship is that?
Jesus was careful to repeat certain words and phrases to draw attention to them. How important was it for Jesus to go away? If we know the Bible, we know Jesus refereed to His death, resurrection, and return to Heaven. This was by far the most important event in the history of this world. Well worth repeating. But how many people notice how Jesus tried to draw attention to it?
Jesus also promised the Spirit again. This is another subject Jesus repeated a number of times. When we look at the main theme introduced at the beginning of this chapter, we are reminded, Jesus told us He already taught this lesson. Because He is repeating it, He actually introduced the rule of first mention.
There is another study rule called the rule of first mention. When a word is repeated throughout a chapter, look back at the first verse it is mentioned in. Look how it is used in that verse. This will establish a direction sometimes based on the emotional side of the spiritual context used in the chapter. Don’t forget to look at similar and related words.
I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.” (John 1:31-34 NLTse)
Not even John knew Jesus was the Messiah until He saw God’s Spirit on Him. What does this tell us about the Spirit? He will show people we are connected with God. It makes sense. How are people supposed to know we have a connection with God if we can’t show a relationship with God’s Spirit? If Jesus needed God’s Spirit to show John the Baptist, He is the Messiah, how are we going to prove anything, or gain anyone’s confidence if we can’t show the same?
This was an important point, so John repeated it. When we look at Jesus’ ministry, we can see how important is was for Jesus to point people to God and His Spirit. The first time God’s Spirit is mentioned, Jesus explained that connection is with one of the best illustrations in the Bible.
“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” “How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked. Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? (John 3:4-10 NLTse)
Jesus pointed Nicodemus the religious teacher to God’s Spirit. Jesus didn’t teach Nicodemus much, He knew He had very little time, so Jesus pointed him to the source of all knowledge and the One who could be with Nicodemus all the time. Jesus knew Nicodemus would be filled with a lot of questions, doubts, and fears. Jesus pointed Nicodemus to the only source He knew could help him through everything the enemy planned on throwing at him. Jesus prepared Nicodemus for the spiritual battle ahead. Not by providing a small weapon like a knife, but one with a magnitude of power beyond our imaginations. Jesus didn’t sent Nicodemus into battle with one meal, but the only source of unlimited spiritual food to last an eternity.
“He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else. He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them! Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true. For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit. The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands. And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” (John 3:31-36 NLTse)
What an I writing for? We look at the next mention of God’s Spirit and Jesus explained God’s Spirit much better than I ever could. All we need to do is link those verses together and we get the vision of God’s Spirit we really need. God wasn’t fooling around when He inspired John to write this book. Not only are we given information on the Spirit, but an example of Him at work.
Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:21-24 NLTse)
We’re given not one example of Jesus introducing someone to God’s Spirit, but two. Notice how Jesus used different methods? See how each was tailored to the individual? You may not notice, but this is another example of God’s Spirit at work. Jesus knew how to communicate with God’s Spirit and listen to His voice. When Jesus followed instruction, He was able to do exactly what He was told to do, successfully lead two people to the Spirit.
If you’ll notice, Jesus saw the effect the Spirit had on the woman, but not on Nicodemus. That taught us, we’re not always going to see the result, but that doesn’t mean God’s Spirit stopped working. Introducing people to God’s Spirit is the beginning of a process that doesn’t end when we drop out of the picture.
Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again? The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.) (John 6:61-64 NLTse)
We’re given the perfect example of how hard God’s Spirit works in the back ground with Jesus’ own disciples. We’re constantly reminded how little they understood. John was one of those disciples and he wasn’t ashamed to admit, he had a difficult time understanding. It took him a long time to catch onto exactly what Jesus was teaching. One of the disciples never caught on. Judas is also used as a contrast of how the Spirit leads to eternal life. Quite a bit to think about.
On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.) When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, “Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.” (John 7:37-40 NLTse)
We’re also shown one symbol pointing to the Spirit, living water. Many people think spiritual water pointed to Jesus, but John’s comment made it clear, Jesus was pointing them to God’s Spirit. After reading the previous examples, we can understand that lesson. Jesus’ role was to point people to God’s Spirit. When people exclaimed, Jesus was a prophet, we’re reminded of a prophets role, to point people to God.
“If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans–I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:15-20 NLTse)
Now we see another pattern emerging. Now we are covering the same event which is recorded from John chapter 13 to 17. If we looked ahead, we’d see additional verses describing the Spirit. At this point we’ll stick to rules of context and only look back.
We see a condition, to obey God’s commandments. This is another role of God’s Spirit, to help us understand those commandments. Not the way men teach, but the way they were meant to be understood.
We’re also shown the Spirit will first guide us into all truth about those commandments, as well as other subjects. We also see the close, intimate connection between Jesus and the Spirit. Having God’s Spirit in our lives is the same as having Jesus guide us. This is what He meant when He promised not to abandon us.
I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative–that is, the Holy Spirit–he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe. (John 14:25-29 NLTse)
Jesus remaining with us is such an important point, He repeated it and added more details to the subject. Jesus remains with us through God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit will move from leading or guiding us to teaching us which will, or should bring comfort. If it doesn’t, you’d better go back to reexamine your relationship with Him, or the process your following. If you don’t feel that comfort God’s Spirit brings, you are missing something.
From a few short verses we’ve seen how Jesus sent us back to review two subjects He’d been teaching during His ministry. While we study these, we have to keep in mind how important they are to our faith. Keep that in mind as you think about how God’s Spirit and Jesus’ return effect your spiritual life.
There Is So Much I Want to Tell You
John 16:10-14 NLTse Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. (11) Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged. (12) “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. (13) When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. (14) He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.
We’ve already covered many of the details Jesus taught about God’s Spirit. After reviewing another important subject, judgment, Jesus continued to explain the role of the Spirit. He added a new subject. This time Jesus went back to God’s Spirit guiding you and this time added a new detail. “He will tell you about the future.” I know most Christians consider this a very important subject. This subject will perk up the ears of most Christians. The future is the subject many Christians are interested in and some are obsessed with it. But what is the process?
Has anyone been able to explain the process God’s Spirit uses to speak with us? If we look back at the Old Testament, we see a simple process. God spoke directly to Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, David, many of the prophets, and others. God spoke to some of those and others like Jacob and Joseph in dreams. When we get to the New Testament, we see a greater role introduced with God using angels. We also see few examples of Jesus talking directly to God which was replaced by prayer. Why the change? I’m not sure, but it has to do something with what we see here. Jesus wanted to tell the disciples more, but they had to wait until the Spirit came. We also see another change symbolized by the disciples, first the twelve, then the seventy. The process was expanded to others like Nicodemus, the woman Jesus met at the well, the man Jesus case a thousand demons out of, and others. Peter and John explained what was happening. You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen. (1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6 NLTse).
God was moving from speaking through a few channels at a time to many. Since the method of delivering the message to this world changed, so did the way God communicated with this world.
Another factor came into play. The mystery of the Messiah was made clear. Lessons changed from telling about what the Messiah will be to what He accomplished. The message still includes what Jesus has to accomplish before His return, which is the future Jesus spoke about. We can prove that by reading the texts. “He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.”
God’s Spirit is all about Jesus. He has never been about us, although His role is to guide, teach, comfort, and encourage us, as well as help us to remember what Jesus taught. Since Jesus is repeating the subject of judgment, we should look up the previous lessons to see if we are following a new pattern.
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” (John 3:16-21 NLTse)
John 3:16 takes on a whole new meaning when we understand it from the point of view describing how Jesus came not to judge but save this world. We see an interesting link between the cross and judgment which will be described later in more detail. When you read the statement Jesus made about judging, it is eye opening as well as sobering. It is also one example showing how people take one section of a subject, make it a doctrine, and misled people into thinking they’ve been taught all the facts. Let’s be serious here, the first time we see judgment mentioned in John’s book happened to be one verse people separate from his book to make a simple doctrine. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him.” Look at the word Jesus followed that sentence with. The word, “but.” That word should make us read the rest of the lesson which involves light and walking into that light. Is stopping at one verse walking into the light, or standing still? How much do we need to know about that light? I’d say that’s a personal question between you and God’s Spirit.
“He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else. He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them! Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true. For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit. The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands. And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” (John 3:31-36 NLTse)
We can apply what is written about Jesus to God’s Spirit since we’ve already seen how Jesus and God’s Spirit are one. These verses show the connection between God’s Spirit and judgment. Since there are two view points to consider, Heaven and earth, there will also be two views on the judgment. We’re told about two sides of the judgment, remaining under it, or believing in Jesus and the Spirit He sends. The alternative to judgment is eternal life. It seems like a no-brainer, but that doesn’t stop people from creating a way around the simple process.
So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished. For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants. In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge, so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent him. “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. “And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice–the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live. The Father has life in himself, and he has granted that same life-giving power to his Son. And he has given him authority to judge everyone because he is the Son of Man. Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment. I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.
(John 5:19-30 NLTse)
We have another series of verses showing how God’s Spirit is linked to the process of judgment. Jesus began this part of His lesson by describing how God directs Him to do everything. We’ve seen how God’s Spirit communicated with Jesus. Once again, we’re shown how God and Jesus are linked together, teamed up to accomplish the same goal. There is one sentence that I really like. Once we see the connection between Jesus and His Father, Jesus said, “Then you will truly be astonished.”
Giving life to the dead is one of those gifts or powers Jesus received from God. It may be the one that most astonishes us. We are also shown that God gave the role of judging to Jesus. Later we’ll be told how God judges. Later we’ll look into that a little deeper.
Giving honor and believing in Him and His son is part of receiving eternal life. Jesus added another condition. “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.” We also have to listen to Jesus’ message. What is that message? One part is covered here. Hearing Jesus’ voice when He returns to open the graves and raise the dead. How will anyone know Jesus’ voice when He opens the graves if they don’t know it when they were living?
The beginning of this chapter tells us what we have to do to keep our faith. This section of John chapter 5 covers part of the process to obtain eternal life, which is the same as avoiding judgment. More of that process is explained after Jesus’ resurrection.
Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me. You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.” (John 8:14-18 NLTse)
These texts contain another one of those verses some people like to take out of the chapter and use it to prove a preconceived idea. In essence, they don’t hear Jesus’ voice, nor do they know His Spirit. They try to make the claim, Jesus never judges anyone. They use one portion of a sentence to claim everyone is saved. Look at the portion of texts they use. “ I do not judge anyone.” Then look at the entire sentence. “You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone.” Jesus was referring to human standards. Jesus does not judge anyone by human standards, as He made clear in His previous sentence. “For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me.” Jesus told them there is a difference between Him and them. Then told them, He doesn’t judge by their standards.
There are more texts dealing with the subject of judgment. You can go over the rest yourself to pray and think about what they mean, what they teach, and how they are related. You can see how some statements seem to contradict others, if you don’t know the full story.
“No,” Jesus said, “I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father–and you dishonor me. And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the true judge. I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!” (John 8:49-51 NLTse)
Then Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgment–to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” (John 9:39 NLTse)
Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” (John 12:30-32 NLTse)
Jesus shouted to the crowds, “If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me. For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken. I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.” (John 12:44-50 NLTse)
In a Little While
John 16:15-22 NLTse All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’ (16) “In a little while you won’t see me anymore. But a little while after that, you will see me again.” (17) Some of the disciples asked each other, “What does he mean when he says, ‘In a little while you won’t see me, but then you will see me,’ and ‘I am going to the Father’? (18) And what does he mean by ‘a little while‘? We don’t understand.” (19) Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant? I said in a little while you won’t see me, but a little while after that you will see me again. (20) I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. (21) It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. (22) So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.
Jesus repeated this subject a number of times. We looked at a list at the beginning of this chapter. When we see something like this, scripture is telling us there is something we missed, or there is something added here God’s Spirit is telling us we need to see.
Once a pattern is established, and we see a break in it, this is an indication to pay attention. It often indicates a movement into a new event. Often a break in an established pattern leads into a sever warning or a wonderful promise of fulfillment.
We saw a pattern established in chapter 16 by three subjects recorded in earlier chapters. Jesus intentionally repeated those lessons. We followed instructions from verse 1 and looked at what was taught in previous events. Then Jesus went back to the first lesson He introduced. What are we supposed to do? Go back to study the first subject again? We could do that. But when a pattern is broken, it often means the lesson is moving in a new direction requiring a new way of looking at it. The question of course is always, what is the new way of examining this part of the lesson? This is a good time to stop and pray.
Look at how many times the phrase or thought is repeated. The introduction and summation agree Jesus going away and coming back is the main theme in this chapter. Some people may try to apply this to what many they refer to as Jesus’ second coming, but the context makes it clear Jesus is teaching about His arrest and execution. What did we miss? Look at what John added.
First Jesus concentrated on the word going, and term, going away. He later changed to, in a little while you won’t see me anymore. We can see how they are related, and really should be highlighted the same color.
Key words are words the author repeated to draw attention to his main thought, point, or lesson. Key words are words that are the SAME, SIMILAR, or RELATED.
It may take a bit of practice to develop a pattern highlighting key words. I look at it as a fundamental and necessary way for God’s Spirit to slow you down and get you to listen. It’s difficult to thoroughly highlight all the key words in one pass. You have no choice but to go back and forth over scripture to do a complete job. Many people have heard of other texts in the Bible that show us how to study, such as line upon line, and using a churning method of going back and forth over scripture. Now you know what that means.
When we take a close look at this section of scripture, we can see one important detail added to the main theme. Some of the disciples asked each other, “What does he mean when he says, ‘In a little while you won’t see me, but then you will see me,’ and ‘I am going to the Father’? The disciples repeated the phrase Jesus used. It’s important to pay attention to who said what. The important change to notice is, they asked each other.
A close look will show the disciples repeated the question, then added the fact, they didn’t understand. Those changes are important. Jesus pointed out this detail. This is one of the easiest places to see Jesus’ pause. You can see how Jesus gave them time to think. Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant?” Then Jesus repeated the term, “in a little while you won’t see me, but a little while after that you will see me again.” The way that term is repeated stands out like book ends with all the information between them.
The problem sticks out like a sore thumb. The disciples thought they could figure out the situation themselves. Now look at the situation. What is Jesus talking about? His arrest, trial, and execution, then finally resurrection. When was that going to happen? In the future. The disciples had no way of figuring out the future on their own. But that didn’t stop them from trying.
Jesus continued with a parable. This time He used the symbol of a woman having a baby. He told the disciples that’s what they would feel like. Not in a physical sense, but on an emotional level. Jesus told them, their grief was coming.
We see another side of Jesus. And let’s not forget, a side of God we really have to get to know. Jesus is about to face four humiliating trails, He will be beaten, whipped, and face the most painful execution derived my mankind. Jesus know everything in His future, and He is concerned about His disciples experiencing emotional grief. What does that tell you about God?
Do You Really Believe?
John 16:23-31 NLTse At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. (24) You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy. (25) “I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father. (26) Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, (27) for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God. (28) Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.” (29) Then his disciples said, “At last you are speaking plainly and not figuratively. (30) Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.” (31) Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe?
I guess you’ll have to wait for this answer like I had to. I had to pray about those last few verses and then I was shown their spiritual connection. Jesus showed His concern, His love for the disciples by being more worried about them then He was about Himself. Don’t miss this point. In the parable Jesus used the symbol of a woman giving birth. Now we see Jesus asking them if they really believe. What does that word believe mean? This is another one of those moments the Spirit tells you to pause and look up the word.
G4100 πιστεύω pisteuō
From G4102; to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), that is, credit; by implication to entrust (especially one’s spiritual well being to Christ): – believe (-r), commit (to trust), put in trust with.
G4102 πίστις pistis
From G3982; persuasion, that is, credence; moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly constancy in such profession; by extension the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself: – assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity.
G3982 πείθω peithō
A primary verb; to convince (by argument, true or false); by analogy to pacify or conciliate (by other fair means); reflexively or passively to assent (to evidence or authority), to rely (by inward certainty): – agree, assure, believe, have confidence, be (wax) content, make friend, obey, persuade, trust, yield.
I wonder how many people can figure out the definition on the emotional level Jesus was in at the time. The emotional level that brought Him here in the first place. The emotional level Jesus was in at the time, the day before He lost His life. People wake up! Jesus died!
When we look at Jesus’ question on the deep emotional level of Heaven, we can’t, or shouldn’t help but see Jesus was asking, “Do you really love me? Do you really believe in me? Let’s look at the definition of the word believe and break it down to the emotional level of love. Not that counterfeit love found in this world, but that special love from Heaven.
Did the disciples have faith and trust in Jesus like God has in Him? Were they committed to Jesus like His Father is? I wrote another book based on Mark’s Gospel. As I was writing that book, it became evident, Jesus was teaching His disciples about a real relationship. The sequence of events showed how Mark recorded lessons about a relationship. That was the common theme that connected them. It became evident, Jesus was teaching them about a relationship because He wanted a real relationship with them. Jesus reached out for their love. He needed their love to make it through the trials He had to face. But those disciples couldn’t catch on. They couldn’t give Jesus the love, support and commitment He needed. They were too busy arguing who was the greatest. They were too busy being in love with themselves.
I remember what it was like to be in love. Then I found out love never works on a one way street. Love amounts to nothing if it is not shared on the same level by both people. Now I feel humbled to have been through an experience close to what Jesus had to go through. I am also humbled and even more in love with Jesus because He tried to stop it, but I wouldn’t listen. I could list at least a dozen signs telling me not to marry that woman. But I was in love. I remember one in particular over the past few days. The day I my flight was scheduled to go to her and get married, I received a call. It was from someone who wanted to by my house. She offered full price, cash, no contingencies. I turned it down and left for the airport. Now I can’t sell the house for $50,000 less than that offer. And if I do, well the ex-wife gets a good portion of the money. That’s all she is concerned about. That is one lesson that sits heavy on my mind. I ignored warnings Jesus sent and paid the price. It was a heavy toll, but now I can look back and see the lesson.
When I heard about the divorce, I was devisated. I couldn’t eat for weeks. I lost so much weight it really showed. I was always normal, or close to ideal weight. 5′-8” and between 150-155 pounds. I was less than 140 pounds before I regained my appetite. I would not accept the divorce and was convinced I could fix it. I prayed to God constantly to help me fix it. Pain was on my mind and heart constantly for months. It was the only thing I could think about from the time I woke up to when I was finally able to fall asleep. After a few hours I’d wake up and it would be the only thing on my mind. She knew how emotional I would be and used it to her advantage. She used my emotions to not only manipulate me, but to extend and increase the pain I felt. She made no attempt to cover up her adultery but praised it. She bragged about it. She used it to hurt me.
I lost count of the number of months before we consummated our marriage. She always had an excuse. I thought that was just the way a good Christian woman acted. After that, we had sex every few months. Again I convinced myself that must be the way good Christian women act. They put away the lusts of the flesh and for some reason that made me love her even more.
Before we married, we prayed together everyday, and studied together. We would stay on the phone for hours and make sure we called each other before and after work. But that all changed as soon as we got married. She never prayed or studied the Bible after we married. I continued to do both as well as call her on the way to work, and when I was on my way home. That was another one way street.
Now that I look back, our marriage was one long one way street. She didn’t work much. But the few times she had a job, she always complained about it. And I was right there to support her. I’d tell her how they didn’t appreciate her and didn’t’ see the skills and potential she had. I supported her when she quit. Of course she always cried like it was a big emotional step for her. Looking back I can see how she used her tears as another tool or weapon.
I was reminded about another detail. She always told me stories about how she would constantly almost get into car accidents. After she told me her account of the story, I would always support her and agree it was the other person’s fault. I was in love and I could never see what she was doing. In her eyes she was perfect. She never made a mistake. As long as she has people to agree with her, she could convince herself she was always right. Sounds a lot like the same emotion and pride the disciples placed above their love for Jesus. She loved herself more than me like the disciples loved themselves more than Jesus.
After about a year of anguish, I finally started listening to God. One of the first things He told me was I stopped praying out loud to Him. That was because she didn’t like it. I stopped praying, thinking, what could go wrong? After all, I was in love. Love has a way of blinding you. I finally accepted the fact, God had to work on her and as long as I was there offering faithful and unlimited encouragement, she wasn’t going to accept any type of change. She was convinced she was perfect – adultery and all.
I had to go back and examine what love really was. I had to pray long and hard about it. I was determined to get Jesus back in the center of my heart. I saw how I placed my wife there and asked Jesus to leave. How do I get Him back where He belonged and how do I make sure no one ever takes His place in my heart? That is a difficult question to ask. And a hard answer to accept.
What took Jesus to that cross and through all that pain and suffering? We’ve seen how Jesus could look into the future and understand what was about to happen. He saw how the cross would change them. Jesus saw how they would accept the pain and let it remold and change them. I felt that pain for nearly a year.
I have to say, I have not found a woman close to that kind of love and commitment I felt for my wife when we were married. I hear a lot of women say they love Jesus, but their love is not even close to what I felt for my ex-wife. This time I am looking and waiting for much more.
As I learn more about Jesus and how much He loves me, and the love He offers to all of us, I am reminded about another part of my life. My mother died of cancer when I was very young. My dad never remarried. He loved her so much, he never did find another woman close her. My dad never found another woman who sparked the depth of love he had for her. Maybe it runs in the genes?
How do we get that kind of love for Jesus? I have to ask, how would you feel if someone stole your wife or husband from you, or they suddenly died? How would you feel? How empty would you feel? Would the meaning and purpose of life disappear without them? Would you feel like life had no meaning? Wouldn’t it hurt so much, days would drag on without purpose. Food wouldn’t taste the same. Sights and sounds, the little things in life like shopping, sitting together, a view of a full moon, or a sunset would pass without joy. Wouldn’t you feel like you’d never feel a happy moment again? Wouldn’t it feel like nothing had any meaning because you had no one to share it with? I felt that way for years. I still feel that way at times.
Multiply that sadness by an infinite number and you know what those disciples felt. Look at the scene. We normally suffer alone. I was alone in a big house. I had about four people to support me. But I felt so alone. Like happiness had fled only to be replaced by a deep feeling of dispair, hopelessness, loneliness, and sadness forever. The disciples gathered together to share their grief, support, and encourage each other. The lesson of washing each other’s feet was unfolding. Did they see the lesson and understand it. Not until after they saw Jesus when their grief was lifted.
This feeling and lesson of love is so personal, you have to take it up with Jesus on your own. You owe it to yourself and owe it to Him to sit down and talk about it. I can’t express or explain all the lessons He taught me. Some of them are too personal to share. But I praise the LORD because now I can look back and see why I had to live through that horror and experience all that pain for all those years. It gave me a glimpse of what Jesus’ disciples felt for a few days after they saw their friend executed and placed in a tomb. I hope you didn’t have to experience anything that drastic, but if you did, I hope what I shared has helped to release you from the pain. Now it’s time to go to Jesus to be healed and learn what love really is.
When we look at that definition of the word believe in John 16, we can’t help but see how closely the definition is to love. The word Jesus used definitely is a view from Heaven, which is far different than this world. Faith, entrust, spiritual well being, commitment, moral conviction, truthfulness, conviction, consistency, assurance, fidelity, reliance, and obedience are all factors of love as well as belief. We can see how the definition from Heaven far exceeds the expectations and commitments of this world. The question is, what is it going to take for this world to move from the love it understands, to the love Jesus, God, and His Spirit offer? Not only accept that love but be totally committed to it.
Once we understand and see the Heavenly meaning of belief, it opens up a whole new view into the difference of love and commitment between this world and Heaven. One example was on the news last week. The US has been locked in an unbelievable cold front for about a month. The east coast saw more snow than they could handle. Government studies showed how that severe weather caused more than four billion dollars in losses to the economy. I don’t know who does those studies or what criteria they actually use, but common sense paints a totally different picture.
Talking to some people around Milwaukee where we are experiencing record cold temperatures but not much snow, they tell me how busy they are. Common sense tells us plumbers are busy as well as people repairing and replacing furnaces. Record number of car batteries are being sold. Auto body shops as well as repair shops are seeing record income. On the east coast where it has been constantly snowing, people in the snow removal business are making more money than expected. The kid next door is making more money shoveling snow than he ever dreamed about. But government reports say the economy lost so much money. Their statement reveals where their love lies. . Not with the small businesses making record profits, but with large corporations facing a decrease in profits. And we can bet those figures are exaggerated so people feel sorry for them like my ex-wife thrived on. When we experience that love from Heaven, we can see that misguided love in this world and where their true intentions and commitments really lie.
Jesus told them a little bit of what was going to happen and then He shared the results. Jesus gave them a taste of what we find in Hebrews 10 where it explained how Jesus opened up a direct path to God’s throne for us. I’ve also been praying about why – for the most part, it seems God voice has fallen silent to this world. How do you think Jesus felt when He saw His love was on a one way street? I mean, can you imagine what He really felt? When I found out I was on that road, I couldn’t explain how much it hurt. I can tell you, I have not spoken to my ex-wife since the divorce. I have no need to communicate with her at any time on any subject. I have to be honest. A love like I had doesn’t die, but wisdom and knowledge tell me that love is nothing to waste. Especially on someone who has no idea how to return it. Does Jesus feel the same way? I talk to Jesus, and He answers. Jesus met and talked to His disciples after His resurrection. He saw the joy in their faces and felt the transformation in their hearts. He finally experienced and felt the love He gave them returned. Why does so much of this world believe Jesus stopped talking to us?
Why does it seem like Jesus doesn’t talk to so many people? Is it only because they aren’t listening? Or is a part of the reason because Jesus felt the pain of a one way relationship and chose not to communicate? Is it because He doesn’t want to feel that pain again? We’re created in God’s image and if we feel that pain, you’d better believe Jesus feels it to.
I can only speak from experience in human terms, but maybe that’s what this world needs to hear. Maybe that’s all this world is ready to hear. Maybe human terms and an understanding of that love Jesus has for us is a bridge they need to begin giving back the love they receive.
I have to be honest. There is a part of me that wants to protect myself from the pain. I never want to feel like that again. So I chose not to communicate with my ex-wife in any way, shape or form. I can be honest and tell you why. I would fall in love all over again in a minute. She wouldn’t have to put in any effort or show any love at all and I would lay myself at her feet and remain totally committed. I would give her much more than explained in that definition of believe and much more. Oh how I wish I could love Jesus that much and feel that strong about Him. But with my ex-wife, I know I have to protect myself. I’ve already lost so much.
We can’t explain the depth of Jesus’ love any more than we can understand or feel the pain He went through. Come on now, don’t you understand He came here as a human and felt much more than the cold, heat, exhaustion, hunger, the lash on His back, nails through His hands and feet, thrones on His head, and those other physical pains. Jesus felt more emotion and heartbreak than we could imagine. Because His love is so much deeper than ours, so is the emotional pain. Does that explain why people don’t hear Him communicate with them? Is it because they have no intentions or desires to return His love and Jesus is protecting His heart from the pain? Can we blame Him?
Lucky thing for us we have the Bible to help us understand and hear Jesus calling out to us. His disciples couldn’t provide the support He needed when He needed it, or return the love He gave them when He needed it most. But Jesus went back to them and couldn’t wait to fill their hearts with joy. After suffering the worst pain those disciples could imagine, it was gone in a moment. It was a pain only Jesus could heal.
Look at Paul as another example. He hated Jesus and all of His followers. But that didn’t stop Jesus from reaching out to Paul with all His love. And look what happened with Paul, how he changed. There are other examples in the Bible and many more in God’s book of life. He keeps a record of all of them like many of us record precious moments we want to remember. Imagine what those mean to Jesus when someone opens up their heart and returns the love He gives them. Can you feel that joy? Have you felt those emotions in this world? Do you remember what it felt like? Now multiply that by the infinite number of eternity.
Jesus opened a new door for this world. He loves us so much He promised to give us anything and everything. Don’t we make the same promises to the people we really love? Jesus wasn’t selfish with His love. He showed us where it came from. His love is so great it has to be shared. When He rose from that tomb He opened up a new door, a new era, “ At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.” Jesus gave us the greatest love, gift, and joy of all. He opened a direct path to God’s throne for us. How much does Jesus want us to understand that love?
Jesus explained that answer to His disciples. “I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father. Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God. Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.”
First off, we should be happy because Jesus told us He returned to be with His first love, His Father. Up until this point, Jesus spoke in symbols and examples. As far as the disciples were concerned at that point in time, the love Jesus spoke about had not yet been revealed. Jesus told them, “soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father.” But the time had not yet come for them to understand or feel that love. First they had to share the pain.
The disciples thought they understood, but at that time, there was no way for them to know. A lot of people think they understand Jesus’ love, but do they really? Are they 100% prepared to return that love? Look what’s not in the Bible. There’s no record of any of the disciples falling in love or getting married. Like my dad, they found one love that could not be equaled. Some times the things we go through in life prepare us for what is ahead. Lessons are often difficult to learn. Those four Gospels all agree, Jesus’ disciples found it impossible to understand Jesus’ love and God’s plan of salvation until after they passed through the pain. I think a lot of us are the same. We each feel our own personal pain. We all have our own way of dealing with it. We all have our own level of asking Jesus to get involved and help us to heal. And we all have our own level and quality of love we return to Jesus.
Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? We all have our own level of belief. The point is to remember how Jesus reached out to people in the Bible and learn from those examples.
You Will Be Scattered
John 16:32-33 NLTse But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. (33) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Have you gone through that? Did you leave Jesus alone when He needed you? Image the Son of God needing people. Jesus pointed out, He was never really alone as long as He has His Father. Did you ever feel like that? The only one in the universe who could understand you was God? Then you would feel a little of what Jesus felt. When you can feel a little of what Jesus felt, you are ready to find that peace He offered.
Jesus made another promise. Well two of them. He didn’t want to hide anything, so He told His disciples the road was not going to be an easy one. I remember when I was in love, I felt like nothing in this world could hurt me. I wish I had that kind of love with Jesus. But I’m working on it and it is growing. It is getting there. That’s the kind of love and confidence Jesus wants us to have. The kind of love that can overcome anything and everything this world can throw at us. We just have to keep in mind, Jesus faced this world and won! And we can do the same when we finally figure out how to return the love He gives to us. There is no greater gift we can offer Jesus than to return the love He gave to us.
Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you. You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. (Psalms 51:15-17 NLTse)