John’s gospel gives us an intimate look into Jesus’ last hours with His inner circle. His words from chapters 14-17 were almost certainly shared with His disciples in the moments around the table during the Last Supper (Passover feast) and their subsequent walk to Gethsemane.
I feel I can best relate the tenor of His comments to the kind of experiences many of us have had playing sports and for a select few, the tense last-minute instructions battlefield commanders give just moments before their troops are to engage an enemy.
Owing to my many years playing baseball and basketball, these verses resonate like the confident pre-game speeches I heard from numerous coaches who had spent the last many months preparing us for a game that was highly anticipated and finally imminent! They knew we were prepared and capable of meeting the challenges our opposition was going to throw our way. But they often knew as well, that we were…less sure…of ourselves! Their certainty infused boldness and readiness in us because they had a different perspective of our capabilities and saw something in us that we did not always see! Their perspective was encouraging and tremendously empowering!
Chapters 14-17 in the book of John provide us with the same kinds of perspective, and if we can take Jesus’ words as seriously as they are intended to be taken, they will most certainly be…game changers!
Vs. 1-4 “Don’t worry…your future is out of this world!”
The original languages for “let not your heart be troubled” give us the following amplification…
“stop being troubled, set your heart at ease”
Sometimes I think that too many of us consider “worrying” as a spiritual gift!
Obviously, common sense and an awareness of issues and dangerous situations is an inbred function of our survival instinct. However, worry as a general mindset is far more likely to incapacitate us than it is to help us!
Jesus had a strongly worded recommendation on this popular practice… STOP IT!!!!!
Instead, He says to “set your heart at ease”. Obviously, we need to learn to think or even “obsess” on something other than what might go wrong!
In the following verses, Jesus turns their thoughts to the amazingly blessed future that awaits! He juxtaposes the imagery and promise of “mansions” for an everlasting dwelling with Him as a backdrop critical to prepare their minds for the impending tragedy they are about to face.
It would appear that He considered it critical then as well as now, for disciples to develop the skill of looking beyond their current problems!
If I heard my dad say it once, I heard it a thousand times;
“Always live with something to look forward to.”
But that concept was not original with my dad. Jesus was in effect saying the same thing by detailing just one of the many things we could appropriately “set our mind” on!
No matter how rough things get, forever blessed trumps temporarily bummed!
Vs. 12-18 “Expect an enhanced partnership”
In the hours just ahead, these men would see their world literally fall apart. They would be tempted to assume that their adventure with Him was over. However, in these few words He assures them that He is not disbanding them but instead, He is promoting them to full partnership… when He promised them ”greater works than these”… they (and we) were promised enhanced effectiveness because He was going to the Father! He was literally promoting His followers to greater authority and power in “His name!”
Then He unveils a beautiful and essential reality that He was about to make available to them:
…“I will pray to the Father, and He will give you another Helper that He may abide with you forever…”
The word “another” is so important here. As it is translated into this passage it would literally be understood as:
…“ one besides Me and in addition to Me but one just like Me, He will do in My absence what I would do if I were physically present with you”…
“Helper” translates as “comforter” and “counselor”. The word is literally defined as:
…“ a person summoned to one’s aid, it may refer to an advisor, legal advocate, a mediator or intercessor”…
Jesus then, almost in a way condensing the previous statement says:
…”I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”
Vs. 19-24 “Our love is the mutual kind”
In this beautiful and instructive passage, we learn that those who know and keep God’s word (commandments) are those who love Him. Jesus reveals that love flows both ways, He and the Father love those persons as well!
Look at our position, the Spirit will be in us and God’s love will be toward us! Then, Jesus reveals something else;
He will “manifest” Himself to those that He loves!
In essence, although the world at large will not “see” Him, those that love and obey Him will! This word literally means …” to present oneself in the sight of another, to be conspicuous, to come into view”.
Vs. 25-31 “Trust your training…Let’s go!” ‘
Sooner or later, its “Game Time!” It’s time to use what ’s been taught.
Jesus instructs them that the Holy Spirit will be reminding them of the things He had taught as well as continuing to teach as time goes by.
Then He says He is leaving something very powerful with them (as well as us by extension). He is leaving His very own “peace”! This is not the peace the world may be able to achieve which is based on achieving a lack of conflict. His peace is of a different order, a higher order, one the world can’t take away. His peace does not come as a result of earthly circumstance but in the settled relationship of love and trust known only by the individual who is fully at rest in the arms of God, who he knows originated all things and who still oversees them to this day!
Only in that context can He command them as He does;
“Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”… He continued on by reminding them that He was going away…BUT…He was also coming back to them!
He lets them know that His departure is a good thing and if they really understood, they would certainly realize that it was so. Then He abruptly switches gears and says the “ruler of this world is coming” (game time!) but he has “nothing in Me” which would be the same as we would say: “nothing on me.”
He then announces that what He is about to do He is doing out of love and obedience to His Father so that the world might take notice! And then a word for all of us…
“Get up and let’s go!”