Do we sometimes feel all alone? Do a loss of innocence, of youth, a parent, a child, a job, or a marriage make us feel abandoned by the world around us? Here is good news! Jesus promised us a Comforter, a Helper so that we would not be alone.
God has not abandoned us.
We will look at God’s love for us, our love for Christ and God’s Helper the Holy Spirit.
Love is a Verb
In John 14:15 when Jesus states that if you love me keep my commandments, the word for love [agapaté] is a verb, not a noun. Such love is doing something not just a warm feeling inside. In fact if we love Jesus it is obvious by our doing, our keeping of his commandments. It is a mistake to think that means the Old Testament commandments. Many times Jesus said things like you have heard that it was said of old, but I say to you and he gave a new instruction. For instance, the woman caught in adultery was not stoned, but shown mercy. Jesus also did not contradict the Father in these things, but said that these new instructions were from the Father. We are to keep, watch over or hold firmly to these new commandments of Jesus.
Advocate for Whom
When we read translations of John 14:16 where the Paraclete is translated as Advocate, we might ask the question for whom is he an Advocate? In court the Advocate helps the accused. We are accused of sin and corruption. The accuser is the devil (Revelation 12:10). Who is the judge? It is Jesus (2 Timothy 4:1) who will judge on that day (Revelation 20:11-12). Is the Spirit pleading our case before a harsh God just begging for his mercy? Or is it the opposite? Has not God already shown his mercy and love for us by the death and resurrection of Jesus? Is not the Holy Spirit an Advocate who is also pleading God’s case to us, that we do not need to face death if we accept the truth of God’s love demonstrated in Easter?
Good News—a Helper
In John 14:16-17 Jesus promised another Helper, a Paraclete. The word Paraclete means a helper in court, a legal advocate who stands up in court and pleads our case before a judge, a comforter, an adviser-helper. This helper is also the Spirit of Truth. He communicates truth. He will reveal the truth about all our sins but also the truth about the penalty which has already been paid by Christ. He is not the spirit of lies and our world is filled with lies. The world cannot accept the truth. The world does not see the truth nor know it. It takes the help of the Holy Spirit living with us and in us to see and know the truth, to face our sins and to acknowledge that we have no other hope of justification before God than Jesus.
You the Orphan?
Every one of us will become an orphan, unless we die before our parents. I remember fondly the daily conversations with my mother after school. In later years my father and I delighted in lengthy conversations about life. His wisdom was always gentle but firm in the grace that he had taken a lifetime to learn. He had grown to become very much like my grandmother, emphasizing not being critical of others, but realizing that we all make mistakes and are obligated to show others grace. Many of us can relate to the hole that the absence of such conversations leaves. When Jesus left for heaven, his disciples felt abandoned. Yet he said that he would not leave his disciples orphaned (John 14:18). He will return. Therein also lies the best hope of seeing our dearly departed ones again.
Comfort in Loss
A soldier in Afghanistan stands guard as a little girl plays with a rock in her hand, or is it a grenade? She gets ready to throw it at a passing Humvee. A split second decision has to be made. Do I lose another group of soldiers to a grenade attack or am I shooting a little girl playing with a rock? The moral dilemma affects all sides making people feel abandoned by the world. The loss of innocence, of youth, a parent, a child, a job, or a marriage make us feel abandoned. In John 14:18 Jesus promises not to abandon his disciples like orphans, but send the Comforter. What have we lost? Is the Holy Spirit teaching us how we should act? Ought we come alongside one another without judgment, giving words of comfort, help and healing?
Every pastor or missionary eventually becomes a lame duck. The person who worked among the people of God moves on. The book Missionary Methods Saint Paul’s or Ours, (Roland Allen, Eerdmans, 1962) is a masterpiece on missionary work. In a sense, every pastorate is a missionary endeavor. The author challenges missionaries to get in, get on and for the sake of the developing flock to get out. Leaving is one of the best gifts a missionary or pastor can give a church. Only then will leadership develop to its fullest potential. It is with that thought in mind that a pastor leaves a much loved flock behind. Jesus said that he would not leave his disciples orphaned (John 14:20). And so it is as a missionary or pastor departs. The Holy Spirit remains behind to complete a maturing work.
How can we Disobey Jesus
How can we disobey Jesus (John 14:15, 21)? There are many ways. We can quote church literature more than Jesus. We can prefer popular opinion or political definitions of acceptable lifestyles or sinful behavior more than the teachings of Jesus. We can redefine specific sins along modern cultural lines rather than historically biblical terms. We can become so inclusive that no sin is any longer a reason for exclusion from church or kingdom. In addition to that we can add multiple rules and traditions of mere men like the Pharisees did, which so overshadow the commands of Jesus that they fade to become mere background noise. Or, we can use Jesus commands as mere springboards, given token gesture as we spring off onto our own agendas, rather than seek to plumb the depths of what he envisioned for the church.
Jesus told his disciples if they love him to keep his commands (John 14:15, 21). Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near. Come to me and learn from me. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Be perfect [spiritually mature]. Love the Lord your God. Love your neighbor as yourself. Enter through the narrow gate. Watch out for false prophets. Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink. Do not judge, or you too will be judged. Go and learn the meaning of this: I desire mercy, not sacrifice. Most of his commands can be found in the Gospels.
We may sometimes feel abandoned by the world around us. But there is good news! Jesus sent us a Comforter, a Helper so that we would not be alone.