In the Absence of the Son, Behold, the Arrival of the Spirit

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written and recorded by the apostle John. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses fifteen through thirty-one of the fourteenth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of s rupture you will find the apostle John continuing to write concerning the words which Jesus the Christ spoke on the night in which He was betrayed. As you continue reading that which is found within these verses you will come face to face with some of the strongest words Jesus spoke unto His disciples—words which were not only intended to prepare them for His departure, but words which were intended to prepare them for the arrival of One who was like Jesus but One who was also altogether different. What makes the words which we find within these chapters so incredibly unique and powerful is not only that Jesus sought to prepare His disciples for His departure from this earth, but He also sought to prepare them for His return. It’s interesting and worth noting that when Jesus spoke unto His disciples concerning His departure, He didn’t merely prepare them for His absence from the world and their continued presence within it, but He also prepared them for the fact that He would once more return. I am thoroughly convinced that in the words which Jesus spoke concerning His departure there is also a wonderful and powerful motif for His return which is both imminent and guaranteed. We cannot, we dare not, we must miss out and lose sight of the absolutely incredible reality that when Jesus spoke unto His disciples on the night in which He would be betrayed He made sure to speak unto them very plainly and in clear terms that the hour had come for Him to be glorified and for Him to depart from this earth and return unto His Father who was in heaven. In all reality, that which sets the context and narrative for these five chapters are the words which are found in the opening verses of the thirteenth chapter, for as you open up this particular chapter you will encounter the apostle John setting the stage and foundation for that which would take place and that which would be spoken on this night. In the opening verses of the thirteenth chapter the apostle John begins by emphatically declaring and writing how Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to depart out of this world and return unto His Father. The apostle John made it perfectly clear that in the context of Jesus knowing and understanding that His hour had come for Him to depart from this earth, He loved those who had been given unto Him and entrusted into His care, and loved them unto the end. What’s more, is the apostle John would go on to write how Jesus knew that all things had been given unto His hands, and where He came from and where He was going. There is within the opening verses of this chapter a wonderful and powerful statement and declaration that Jesus—the One of whom the apostle John had previously written that His hour had not yet come—knew that His hour had come to depart from this earth.

I have to admit that ad I stand here this morning and think about and consider the words which are found and written in the opening verses of the thirteenth chapter of the gospel written by John, and how we have at the very outset of the events which unfolded on this night an understanding within the heart and mind of Jesus the Christ concerning the hour of His departure and His return unto His Father. I absolutely love how the apostle John wrote concerning Jesus that He knew the hour had come for Him to depart from this earth and return unto His Father, for it shaped the events which took place on this particular night. There is not a doubt in my mind that when we read the words which are found and recorded in the opening verses of the thirteenth chapter that they set the stage and lay THR foundation for what Jesus would do in the company and presence of the disciples, and what He would speak unto them. It’s not enough to merely consider the actions of Jesus and the example which He set and laid for them without also considering the words which He spoke in their hearing. It is absolutely remarkable that before He opened His mouth to speak unto them He first laid aside His garments, took up a wrk with which He girded Himself, Dulles a basin with water, and began washing the feet of the disciples. Not only did Jesus wash the feet of the disciples, but He also dried them with the very towel with which He had girded Himself. This reality is quite astounding when you think think that the disciples were washed after Jesus laid aside His garments and poured water into a basin. I can’t help but consider the account of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples and the laying aside of His garments to take up the towel and how it is a natural picture of that which took place in the spiritual and supernatural realm. If you read the opening verses of the first chapter of the gospel which was written by the apostle John you will quickly encounter the tremendous reality that Jesus was the living Word which not only existed in the beginning with God, but also took on the form of human flesh that He might walk among us. What’s more, is that when you read the words which the author of the epistle unto the Hebrews wrote in that epistle you will find that Jesus dis not take on Himself the nature and likeness of angels, but rather, He took on the nature of the seed of Abraham. What’s more, is that when you read the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the epistles which were sent unto the Colossian and Philippian congregations you will find Him echoing the tremendous reality that Jesus laid aside His divinity in order that He might take on the form and likeness of man. Jesus thought it not robbery to be equal to God and laid aside His divinity in order that He might bear the image and likeness of human flesh.

I have to admit that as I sit here this morning I can’t help but be caught up with and captured by the awesome reality that when Jesus laid aside His garments it was a natural and physical expression of what He had done when He laid aside His divinity in order that He might take on the nature of human flesh. What’s more, is that it would be after Jesus laid aside His garments that He would then wash the feet of the disciples and then dry them with the towel with which He had been girded. There is something about the work which Jesus wrought and accomplished having laid aside His divinity and eternal glory that says something quite unique and powerful. I absolutely love that which is written concerning Jesus laying aside His garments in order that He might guard Himself with a towel and wash the feet of the disciples, for not only did it serve as an example for us as the disciples of Christ to go and do likewise, but it was also an invitation for us to lay aside our own pride, our own arrogance and our own self interest and self pursuit in order that we might wash the feet of others. What Jesus did in the flesh—namely, die for the sins of humanity—is not being asked of us, and would not be asked of us, for the work as already been accomplished. What has been asked and what is being asked of us is that we lay aside our own garments and take up the towel that we might wash the feet of others. What’s more, is that it’s in the context of Jesus departing from this earth and returning unto His Father that He engages Himself in the washing of the disciples feet. It would be in the context of Jesus departing from this earth that He would lay aside His garments that He might wash the feet of the disciples and declare unto Peter that if He did not wash them they would have no part in and with Him. It was in the washing of the feet of the disciples that allowed them to have part with and be associated with Him. It’s worth noting that Simon also called peter originally rejected the idea of Jesus washing his feet until Jesus declared unto him that if he did not wash his feet he would not have any part with Him. After Jesus had finished washing the feet of the disciples He asked them if they understood what He did for them. Jesus would then go on to declare unto His disciples that they called Him Lord and Master, and if she being Lord and Master washed their feet, so also should they be willing to go and do the same. Jesus didn’t wash the disciples feet solely for them and them alone, but rather that they might have an example whereby they might go forth and wash the feet of others. What we must recognize and understand is that this doesn’t merely include washing the feet of their neighbors and their friends, but also washing the feet of their enemies. It’s worth noting and understanding that Jesus not only washed the feet of His friends, but He also washed the feet of those who would deny Him, those who would abandon Him, and those who would betray Him. Oh that we would recognize and understand the tremendous narrative and context of what took place on this night and the wonderful example Jesus provided—not only for the disciples, but also for us in this generation.

As I sit here this morning and think about and consider the words which are found in the fourteenth chapter of the gospel written by the apostle John I can’t help but come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality of the first words which were spoken by Jesus after washing their feet, after instructing them to go and do the same, and after declaring unto them that one from among them would betray Him. The opening words which are found in the fourteenth chapter of the gospel written by the apostle John come directly on the heels of that which Jesus spoke unto Simon concerning his own actions, for Jesus declared unto Simon that before the cock crowed the following morning he would deny Him three times. On the heels of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples, and on the heels of Jesus instructing them to go and do likewise, we find the first words Jesus spoke—at least in terms of what is found in the fourteenth chapter—being words of tremendous affirmation and comfort. Jesus had just finished washing the feet of the disciples and instructing them to go and do likewise, and before we come to the fourteenth chapter of the gospel written by the apostle John we find Jesus going on to speak some incredible words unto the disciples concerning His being glorified and understanding that which was about to take place within the earth. If you begin reading with and from the thirty-first verse of the thirteenth chapter you will find Jesus speaking and declaring the following words unto the disciples—words which help set the tone and set the stage for that which is found in the following chapters. Beginning with the thirty-first verse of the thirteenth chapter you will come face to face with the following words which further explain the hour which had come upon the earth, and the hour which had come upon Jesus who is the Christ and the Son of the living God. Consider if you will the words spoken by Jesus which are and were recorded by the apostle John beginning with the thirty-first verse of the thirteenth chapter:

“Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God be glorified in Him, God shall also glorify Him in Himself, and shall straightway glorify Him. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:31-35).

With these words—not only does Jesus speak of the reality that He was about to be glorified, but that it would be the Father who would glorify Him. Jesus—after giving the sop to Judas, and after Judas had left the upper room—would go on to declare unto the disciples that the hour had come for Him to be glorified in the earth, and for the Father to glorify Him. Perhaps one of the most interesting and unique realities concerning what we find in the thirty-first verse of the thirteenth chapter and on through the final verse of the seventeenth chapter is that everything that was spoken here on out took place essentially “after the devil had left the building.”In the opening verses of the thirteenth chapter you will find the apostle John writing concerning Satan having put it into the heart of Judas to betray Jesus, and yet after Judas received the sop given to him by Jesus, it is written that Satan at that moment entered into him. The apostle John would go on to write how after Satan entered into Judas, Jesus instructed him to go and do what he would do quickly and essentially make haste. Immediately after hearing the words which Jesus spoke unto him, Judas left the table, left the company of the disciples, left the presence of Jesus, and left the upper room in order that He might make his way unto the chief priests and elders of Israel to betray Jesus into their hands. One thing I can’t help but think about and consider is that when it came to washing the feet of the disciples, Jesus deliberately and intentionally chose to wash the feet of Judas—this despite the fact that immediately before we read of Jesus laying aside His garments and taking up the towel and filling the basin we read of Satan having put it into the heart of Judas to betray Jesus the Christ. There in the upper room—not only do we find Satan having put it into the heart of Judas to betray Jesus the Christ, but after he had received the sop from the hand of Jesus, Satan entered him. Once Satan entered him, it would be little time before Judas would arise from the table, would arise from the company of the disciples, depart from the presence of Jesus, and leave the upper room in order that he might betray Jesus into the hands of His adversaries and accusers. This is actually quite remarkable, for everything that was spoken here on out on this fateful evening would be spoken “in the absence of a disciple,” and “after Satan had left the building.” What we must understand and recognize when reading the words which Jesus spoke unto the disciples from the thirty-first verse of the thirteenth chapter on is that they were spoken after the devil had left the building, and after the one who would betray Him had left the company of the disciples and presence of Jesus. With Judas removed from the upper room Jesus would now speak freely unto the remaining eleven disciples concerning the hour of His glorification, and concerning his departure from this earth. Oh that we would read the words written and contained within these chapters and understand that they were centered upon the narrative and context of Jesus departing from the earth and returning unto His Father, as well as the declaration that He would return unto them again.

As you come to the fourteenth chapter of the gospel written by the apostle John you will find Jesus speaking unto the disciples and commanding them to “let not their heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” I have to admit that I find these words to be absolutely and utterly captivating and breathtaking—particularly and especially when you consider the fact that Jesus would again utter and speak words incredibly similar to this not long after this. If you continue reading within the fourteenth chapter of the gospel written by the apostle John you will find in the twenty-seventh verse of the chapter Jesus once more speaking unto the disciples concerning troubled and anxious hearts, and commanding them to not let nor allow their hearts to be troubled and anxious. The words which Jesus the Christ spoke unto the disciples would be echoed in the twenty-seventh verse and would read as follows: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” These words which were spoken by Jesus the Christ unto the disciples were words which were intended on comforting them in the knowledge that He was going to be soon departing from the earth, and would essentially leave them and no more be seen but them. The words which Jesus spoke unto them concerning their heart being troubled, and their hearts being afraid were words which must be carefully understood and considered, for it would have been very easy to grow fearful and terrified in the absence of Jesus the Christ. Consider and remember the account of the disciples in the midst of the sea when the wind was contrary and against them, and when they labored and toiled and struggled against the wind, and how Jesus was not in the ship with them, but was still on the land atop a mountain in prayer before His Father who was in heaven. There is not a doubt in my mind that in the absence of the person and presence of Jesus it is incredibly easy to grow fearful and to allow your heart to be troubled and afraid. That which Jesus was speaking unto and declaring unto them was not merely that He was sending them across the sea in the midst of a ship without His being present with them, but now He was sending them into the world and would Himself no longer and no more be in the world with them. It was one thing for Jesus to send them into the midst of the sea alone and without His being present with them, but this was something entirely different, for not only was Jesus sending them into the world, but He was sending them into the world and would be no more with them. For three and a half years He had walked with them, had taught them, had spoken unto them, and had been with them, however, the time had come for Him to depart from the earth, and for them to remain in the earth absent and apart from the presence of the One whom they had walked with and followed for three and a half years. It is no wonder why Jesus would speak unto the disciples and instruct and command them to not let their hearts be troubled, nor to let them be anxious and afraid, for He was departing unto His Father who was in heaven, and they would remain behind in the earth. Having spent three and a half years walking with and following Jesus the Christ, the disciples would now be faced with walking through this life and living in the midst of the world without the person and presence of the One whom they had walked with and followed for three and a half years.

The more I read the words which were spoken by Jesus the more I come face to face with the reality that although He was departing from this earth and was returning unto His Father who was in heaven, He would not leave them alone, nor would He leave them as orphans. If there is one thing we must recognize and understand concerning the words which Jesus spoke unto the disciples on this particular night, it’s that although Jesus would depart out of this world and would not longer be present with or walk with them, He would not leave them alone. As much as Jesus prepared them for His departure, and as much as Jesus prepared them for His absence, He also prepared them for the arrival and presence of another who would not only walk alongside them, but also one who would be with them. If we read the words recorded by the apostle John in this passage of Scripture we will not only find language reminiscent of the words which the Lord Himself spoke unto Joshua in the absence of Moses, but we will also find Jesus encouraging the disciples with the awesome reality that in the absence of the Son would be the arrival of the Spirit. IN THE ABSENCE OF THE SON WOULD BE THE ARRIVAL OF THE SPIRIT! In fact, before I continue considering the words which are written and recorded within the fourteenth chapter of the gospel written by the apostle John, I feel it necessary to bring and call your attention to the words which are written and recorded in the opening chapter of the Old Testament book of Joshua. I firmly believe and am convinced that the words which the Lord spoke unto Joshua in the absence and wake of Moses’ death bear a strong similarity to the words which Jesus the Christ would speak unto the disciples in the impending absence of His person and presence from their midst. In fact, if you begin reading with and from the first verse of the first chapter of the Old Testament gospel of John you will find the following words which were spoken by the Lord in the absence and death of Moses. Consider if you will the following words which were spoken by the Lord unto Joshua in the absence of the person and presence of Moses—that one who Joshua faithfully served and ministered under for so many years:

“Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I share unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that you mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord they God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:1-9).

The words which we find within the opening chapter of the Old Testament book of Joshua are absolutely incredible when you consider them in light of the words which Jesus spoke unto the disciples, for just as the Lord prepared Joshua to lead the children of Israel across the river Jordan and into the land of Canaan against their enemies and adversaries, so also Jesus would prepare His disciples for the awesome and incredible reality that they would remain in the world and would remain in the world in His absence. The hour had come for Jesus to depart from this earth, and for Him to return unto His Father who was in heaven, and that very reality meant that the disciples would remain within the earth absent the person and presence of Jesus the Christ—the One whom they had walked with and followed for three and a half years. What I find to be so incredibly unique about the words which are found in the opening chapter of the Old Testament book of Joshua is that not only did the Lord instruct Joshua to be of a good courage and to be not afraid, but the Lord also emphatically declared unto Joshua that He would go and would be with Him. Even though Moses the servant of the living God was dead, and even though three million plus children of Israel were before Joshua and he would be responsible for leading them across the Jordan River and into the land against their enemies and adversaries, the Lord not only instructed and commanded him to not be fearful and afraid, but He also instructed him to be of a good courage. What’s more, is that the Lord would go on to declare unto Joshua that He would be with Him, and every place that the sole of his foot treads, that has the Lord given unto him. I find the promise of the presence and person of Jesus spoken unto Joshua to be absolutely remarkable and incredible in light of the words which Jesus spoke unto the disciples in the moments, hours, days and weeks leading up to His departure from this earth. One thing I so absolutely love concerning the words which Jesus spoke unto the disciples was that although He was preparing them for His departure, He was also preparing them for an arrival—an arrival of another who would not only walk alongside them, but also one who would abide with and within them. As surely and as much as Jesus would prepare them for His departure from the earth, Jesus would also prepare them for the arrival of a Comforter who would not only comfort them, but one who would remind them of the words which Jesus spoke unto them while He was still with them. Consider if you will the words which Jesus the Christ spoke unto the disciples concerning this Comforter whom He would personally send unto them in order that He might not only abide with them, but also abide within them. In verses sixteen and seventeen you will find the first mention of the Comforter whom Jesus would send upon the the earth, and in verses twenty-five and twenty-six you would find additional words which were spoken concerning this Comforter whom Jesus would send unto them in the wake of His absence and departure from the earth. Consider if you will the following words which were spoken by Jesus concerning the absence of the Son, and yet the arrival of the Spirit:

“And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfort less [orphans]: I will come to you” (John 14:16-18).

“These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:25-26).

Within these few verses we encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that while it was true that Jesus would depart from the earth, and while Jesus would no longer and no more be present with them, He would not leave them comfort less, and would not leave them as orphans in the earth but would come unto them. What is so unique and truly wonderful about the words which Jesus spoke unto the disciples was that He declared He would pray unto the Father, and the Father would give them another Comforter, that He might abide with them forever—another Comforter who would be the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it sees Him not, nor knows Him. What’s more, is that Jesus would go on to declare unto the disciples that He would not leave them comfortless but would come unto them—a declaration which is actually quite captivating and alluring when you think about it, for Jesus was preparing the disciples for His departure. Despite the fact that Jesus was preparing the disciples for His departure, He would personally come unto them and would send unto them another Comforter—one who would abide with them forever. If there is one thing we must consider when thinking about Jesus the Christ is that so long as He abided in the form of human flesh and bore the nature of man, He was bound to certain restrictions and limitations—namely, being unable to be in more than one place at one time. So long as Jesus remained and dwelt in the earth He could only be in once place at a time, and could not be in multiple places at all times. When Jesus laid aside His divinity and His eternal nature, one of the facets of that nature was His omnipresence which essentially speaks to the reality that He could be in all places at all times. So long as Jesus was in the form of human flesh He had laid aside His omnipresence and was bound and restricted by the physical elements of time and space. If Jesus departed from the earth and returned unto the Father He could in fact come unto them, however, he would not come unto them in the manner and likeness they had known and understood, but would come unto them in an entirely different form. In the absence of Jesus from the earth He would not only pray the Father who would send unto them a Comforter, but he would also come unto them in and through the person of the Holy Spirit. What’s more, is that the Holy Spirit who would be the Comforter come unto the disciples of Jesus the Christ, the early Church, and all those who would worship the living God and follow Jesus the Christ throughout the ages would teach them all things, and bring all things to their remembrance, whatsoever He said and declared unto them. Despite the fact that Jesus would depart from the earth, and despite the fact that Jesus would no longer be present within and upon the earth, He would not leave them comfortless, nor would He leave them as orphans, but would come unto them that they might not be alone. IT was true that Jesus would depart from this earth and would return unto His Father who was in heaven, however, it was also true that Jesus would not leave them as orphans, but would send unto them One who would abide with them for ever.

What we must also understand in the context of Jesus departing from the earth is the awesome and incredible emphasis that is placed on the reality of loving Him, and the relationship between professing our love for Jesus and our willingness to do and keep His commandments. Three times within the fourteenth chapter of the gospel which was written by the apostle John we find Jesus speaking unto the disciples concerning their demonstration and manifestation of love for and toward Him—namely, through the keeping of His commandments. It is quite interesting to think about and consider the fact that perhaps the single greatest demonstration and manifestation of our love for Jesus the Christ is not necessarily in church attendance, in worship in the house of the living God, nor in anything else we have placed a great deal of emphasis upon. If you read the words which are written and recorded within this passage of Scripture you will quickly come face to face with the fact that the single greatest demonstration and manifestation of our love for Jesus the Christ is found in our willingness to keep and obey His commands. This reality completely and utterly goes against the grain of everything we have been taught and led to believe, for we have been led to believe that we demonstrate and manifest our love for the Son through various other means and methods, and yet Jesus makes it very clear that if we love Him we will both do and keep His commandments. Oh, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which Samuel declared unto Saul when he declared how he had spared the best of the sheep, the oxen and the cattle for sacrifice and offering unto the living God. It was Samuel who would declare unto him that the Lord does not have as much delight in burnt offerings and in sacrifices, but in obedience to His commandments. What’s more, is Samuel would also go on to declare unto Saul that obedience is better of sacrifice, and heeding better than the fat of calves. We must recognize and understand this, for failing to do so can dramatically hinder our walk and our relationship with Jesus the Christ, for Jesus was very clear when He declared that if we love and if we profess we love Him, we will keep and do His commandments. What this speaks and suggests unto us is that in the absence of obedience is the demonstration and manifestation of a lack of love for Jesus the Christ. If doing and keeping the commandments of Jesus is the greatest demonstration and manifestation of love before and unto Jesus the Christ, then I would dare say that it holds true that in the absence of keeping and doing the commandments is the reverse reality—namely, a lack of love for the person of Jesus the Christ. Even more than this, is the fact that not once, not even twice, but three times within this passage of Scripture Jesus declared and spoke unto the disciples concerning the direct connection and intrinsic link between loving Him and keeping His commandments. I leave you with the words which Jesus the Christ spoke unto the disciples concerning loving Him and keeping His commandments:

“If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

“He that hath my commandments, and keepers them, He is is that loveth me: and He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and manifest myself to him” (John 14:21)

“If a man love me, He will keep my words: and my Father will love Him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me” (John 14:23-24).

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