What I love about this passage of Scripture is the conversation that the disciples have among themselves in verses 17-18. Jesus has been talking with them about some things that they are finding hard to understand. When they have some time to themselves they pick up the conversation and discuss his teaching – trying to get a handle on what He meant.
I love that Jesus’ words don’t go in one ear and out the other.
I love that they don’t just “skip over” this hard teaching of Jesus.
I love that they don’t disregard something He said that didn’t suit them.
I love that their conversations are centered around Jesus’ words and that they seem willing to grapple together.
These are all marks of a disciple. DIsciples don’t know everything there is to know about being a Christian. But they are people who listen intently to the Word of God. People who love the hard sayings of Jesus as much as the easy sayings of Jesus. People who obey – even when it doesn’t suit their fancy. People who love to talk about the Scriptures with other disciples more than they like to talk about the weather, and health, and sports, and politics.
“Father, would You thrill me daily with Your Word that I might have the same kind of passion for it that these early disciples has.”
“There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with GOD: those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it; yet I do not advise you to do it from that motive; it is not pleasure which we ought to seek in this exercise; but let us do it from a principle of love, and because GOD would have us.”
Verse 7 sounds like something your mom or dad might say to you when they are telling you something that you really don’t want to hear – I know you don’t like this but it is for your own good that I am doing this.
The NIV says it like this, “It is for your good that I am going away…”
How could it possibly be good that Jesus is going away. The disciples can’t even imagine life without Jesus with them. And that’s the whole point. Jesus knows that He can’t physically be present with all of His disciples all of the time. And yet, He can – in the person of the Holy Spirit.
Here are some of the things the Newer Testament tells us that the Holy Spirit does in the life of a believer:
He brings about conviction of sin (Jn 16:8)
He guides us into all truth (Jn 16:13)
He reminds us of Jesus’ words (Jn 14:26)
He dwells within us and gives us life and peace (Romans 8:9)
He helps us to pray (Rom 8:27)
He enables us with gifts to serve the church (1 Cor 12)
He produces fruit is us that reflects the character of God (Gal 5)
He guarantees our salvation (Eph 1:14)
He empowers us to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8)
If indeed He does all these things then it seems to me that we as believers need to pay more attention to the Spirit’s presence in our lives. I for one am guilty of trying to live out the Christian life in my own strength. I forget that I have the Spirit of the living God dwelling within me.
“Father, would you fill me and fuel me today with your Spirit that I might have all that I need to do all that You want me to do today.”
“If gold is what you prize so much, that you are willing to leave your distant homes and even risk life itself, I can tell you of a land where they drink out of golden vessels, and gold is as cheap as iron in your own country.”
These words were spoken to Vascco Nunez de Balboa and overheard by Francisco Pizzaro who was with Balboa when he “discovered” the Pacific Ocean in 1513. The land that was being talked about was Peru.
But it was another 12 years, not until after Magellan had sailed across the Pacific Ocean (1522), that Pizarro got his chance and started off from the little port of Panama in search of the golden kingdom of Peru.
His first expedition was a dismal failure; and after untold hardships Pizarro returned to Panama in a sorry state. Still undaunted in spirit, he again started forth. The land of gold was farther away than he had imagined, the coast was stormy and inhospitable, the natives unfriendly.
At last, however, an expedition was fitted out, and guided by the clever pilot Ruiz, who was well experienced in the navigation of the Pacific. They reached the island of Gallo, near the equator. Here they determined to wait, and send back for more troops from Panama, as there was clearly fighting to be done on the coast of Peru. But this proposal caused a great outcry.
“What,” faltered the faint-hearted, “are we to be left in this obscure spot to die of hunger?”
What did they care for lands of gold: they only wanted to go home. But the ships sailed away for help, and Pizarro was left alone on the far-off island with his discontented crew. They survived on crabs and shell-fish, picked up on the shore, till the two welcome ships returned well laden with food and men. By this time Pizarro’s men had made up their minds to return to Panama at all costs. Pizarro was determined to go on. Drawing his sword one day, he traced a line on the sand from east to west. Then turning to the south, he cried—
“Friends and comrades, on that side are toil, hunger, nakedness, the drenching storm, desertion, and death; on this side ease and pleasure. There lies Peru with its riches: here Panama and its poverty. Choose, each man, what best becomes a brave Spaniard. For my part, I go south.”
Saying this, he stepped across the line. The brave pilot and twelve others followed him, while the rest turned their faces homewards.
It was the crisis of Pizarro’s life. The little band sailed southwards, 600 miles south of the equator. After a year and a half’s absence they found themselves once more in the port of Panama, telling their eager listeners that they had indeed found the land of gold, and they had only come back to fit out a new expedition to go and conquer it.
This story, to me, illustrates what Jesus is saying to his small band of disciples on this night before He faces the cross. He does not want them to be surprised by the difficulties that lay ahead. He wants to make sure that they know what they are getting to so that they will be ready and not turn back from the task before them.
“Father, would you remind me of the glories that lie ahead of me when the tough times come my way. And strengthen me for the calling You have given me as a believer to boldly take the Great Commission into uncharted territories.”
“Many of us want a word from God, but we don’t want the Word of God. We know enough to own a Bible but not enough for the Bible to own us. We pay the Bible lip service, but we fail to give it “life service.” In a world where the only absolute is that there are no absolutes, there is little room left for the authoritative Word of God as revealed in the Bible.”
“Dusty Bibles always lead to dirty lives. In fact, you are either in the Word and the Word is conforming you to the image of Jesus Christ, or you are in the world and the world is squeezing you into its mold.”
There is a lot to be pondered in this passage. I will only comment on one thing. (I will, however, be preaching on this passage next Sunday, August 17 at RBC). This passage starts off with the last of what is known as the “I AM” statements of Jesus in the Gospel of John. There are 8 of them. Here they are…
John 6: 35, 48 – I am the bread of life
John 8: 12, 9:5 – I am the light of the world
John 8: 58 – Before Abraham was, I am
John 10:9 – I am the door
John 10:1 – I am the good shepherd
John 11:25 – I am the resurrection and the life
John 14:6 – I am the way, the truth, and the life
John 15:1 – I am the true vine
Each of these in and of themselves are outrageous claims. This last statement, “I am the true vine,” would bring to mind a few references from the Older Testament. Both Psalm 80 and Isaiah 5 would no doubt have immediately sprung to the minds of Johns’ listeners. In the OT the vine represented Israel. The vine was loved by God, “the garden of His delight” (Is 5:7), but it was a wayward and unproductive vine, a vine doomed to destruction.
Jesus’ statement here in John 15 was a blatant Messianic claim. It was also a claim that would bring much needed encouragement to His disciples. He was getting them ready to live life and be on mission without His immediate presence. They were distraught and discouraged by this thought. But He was telling them that as long as they continued to abide in Him, whether He was with them physically or not, that they would be fruitful (v. 5), that they would see great answers to prayer (v. 7) , and that they would experience complete joy (v. 11).
It seems to me that those are great reasons for us to figure out how we can do a better job of daily, moment by moment, abiding in Him as well!
“Father, would You remind me all over again that apart from You I can do nothing. And as I learn to abide in You, would You indeed fuel me with Your joy, allow me to see great answers to prayer, and make my life and ministry more fruitful than it has ever been.”
Here are a few of my favorite quotes by John Wesley…
“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”
“What one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace.”
“We should be rigorous in judging ourselves and gracious in judging others.”
“Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on Earth.”
Here at the end of chapter 14 Jesus comes full circle – He reiterates what He said at the beginning, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” (v.1 and v.27). The word “let” catches my attention. We LET our hearts be troubled…
We let our hearts be troubled by the past and things that have already happened.
We let our hearts be troubled by the present and stuff going on right now.
We let our hearts be troubled by the future and things that haven’t even happened yet.
Our hearts don’t have to live in a state of troubledness – we LET our hearts be troubled. Note again verse 27:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
The prescription for a troubled heart is peace. But not the kind of peace that the world offers. The world offers peace in the form of money, or drugs, or sex, or health, or success – all of which can give you temporary peace. But Jesus offers peace that can withstand the most troubling circumstances that the world. The kind of peace that will last. He offers it in Himself. He is the Prince of Peace. He is the incarnation of Jehovah-Shalom, God our Peace. Shalom is one of the great words in the Hebrew language.
Back in November of 2010 I wrote a blog post discussing this word. Here is an excerpt that will help you understand the power of knowing the Peace of God. It deals with the story of Gideon in Judges 6.
Gideon had only one thing going for him: God called him. God addressed him this way: “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” (Judges 6:12) There was nothing in the natural to suggest that this was true. Gideon replies back to the Lord; “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” (Judges 6:15) He was just being honest. It sounds like Gideon was more realistic than the Lord in his self appraisal. In fact, when God appeared to him he was threshing wheat in secret inside a winepress so as not to be observed and possibly attacked by the Midianites who were riding roughshod all over Israel.
God saw Gideon differently than Gideon saw himself. God saw the secret weapon with which he had equipped Gideon: HIMSELF. God said; “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.” (Judges 6:16) Oh my goodness, the stark terror that Gideon must have felt at that moment! I know I would have wanted to go running in the opposite direction with my ears covered. Probably as a delay tactic, Gideon asked for a sign about who was really speaking to him and then begged to prepare a meal for his guest. He probably hoped no one would be there when he got back with the meat and bread.
But God was still there, waiting, when Gideon returned. The Lord told him to lay the meal on a rock as an offering and pour the broth over it. Then God touched the sacrifice with the staff in his hand “and fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread.” (Judges 6:21) Then he disappeared. Now Gideon understood beyond all doubt that he had been talking face to face with Jehovah. That scared him worse than what God was calling him to do.
So the Lord said to Gideon, “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.” And then Gideon built an alter in that place and called it THE-LORD-IS-PEACE: Jehovah-Shalom. Why did the Lord reveal himself as PEACE at that time? Why not “The Lord is Courage” or “The Lord is Strength”? I think it is because the Lord’s peace is so profound that it overcomes every other consideration. Peace was the real thing that Gideon needed. Peace is the real thing each of us needs when we are up against the wall. (This excerpt is from another bloggers post found HERE)
“Father, in the midst of this troubled world and in the midst of all my troubles, would You today reveal Yourself to me as Jehovah-Shalom. I need Your peace to sustain me and enable me to live as light and salt in a troubled world.”