1 1 Another Helper (John 14:12-31) If you love me, you will keep my commands. And I will ask the father, and he will give you another helper, to be with you forever. This other helper is the spirit of truth. (John 14:15-17a) Jesus is a Friend One of my favorite camp songs is called Jesus is a friend. How many people know this song? (raise hands). Alright, let s give it a try: Jesus is a friend, he s a friend next to you, Jesus is a friend so sing along. Jesus is a friend, he s a friend next to you, Jesus is a friend so sing sing alleluia (repeated) Very good! Jesus is a friend. This is not only a fun camp song, but also an important truth found in Scripture. In the Gospel of John, chapter 15 (verses 12-15), Jesus says My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you. The greatest love a person can have for his friends is to give his life for them. And you are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father Jesus is a friend. Jesus isn t just an acquaintance, and he isn t simply a friend you find on Facebook. No, Jesus is a true friend, Jesus defines what it means to be a friend. He is completely devoted to those who join him in his new way of living, the way of love. He is even willing to lay down his life for his friends, which is the greatest kind of love. And as is true in all good friendships, love is meant to be reciprocal: Jesus invites his friends to practice the same kind of radical love for each other that he shows to them. I invite you to think of your closest friends, the ones you can share anything with, the ones you trust without a doubt. These are the friends who have your back, the ones you feel most yourself with. When you are with these friends, you live with more confidence, energy, and joy. Jesus is that kind of life- giving friend. Now imagine that your very best friend is getting ready to move away, and I m not just talking about moving to Canada. They are going away for good and you may never see them again. How does that make you feel? Jesus disciples were feeling about like that. What were they going to do without Jesus, the truest of friends? Into this desperate question, Jesus sheds some rays of hope.
2 2 Jesus Goes to the Father I. Receiving Jesus love (13:1) Yes, Jesus talks several times about leaving, going to the Father. But each time that he talks about going, he also offers words of hope. First, in John 13:1, the narrator tells us: Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. He had always loved those in the world who were his own, and he loved them to the very end. Have you ever noticed how people tend to withdraw when they are about to move away? Someone you may have been a really close friend with all of a sudden is more distant, detached. In your last days with them, the days that you want to be cherishing every moment, your friend is suddenly hard to relate to because they know that they are moving on. This is exactly opposite to how Jesus behaved as he prepared to go to the Father. Instead of detaching, Jesus drew even closer and showed greater love for his disciples to the very end and beyond. He showed this love to them by washing their feet, through teaching them the way of the father, through prayer on their behalf, and finally through giving his life for them, his friends. Even in his last days, Jesus showed great love to his Disciples, inviting them to receive his love and thus share it with each other. In loving them to the end, Jesus was showing them the most important thing about living. Yes, Jesus was going away, but his love would continue. II. Doing Jesus works (14:12) In the Gospel of John, love is central: Love from the Father, Jesus love for people, Jesus command to love one another. Another key theme in the Gospel is Jesus works. Jesus turns water into wine (2:8-9); he heals several people (4:50; 5:8; 9:7); he feeds a great crowd (6:11), he walks on water (6:19); and he raises Lazarus to new life (11:43-44). And in the midst of these many great works, Jesus tells his disciples: I am telling you the truth: those who believe in me will do what I do yes, they will do even greater things, because I am going to the Father. Jesus going to the Father would free his disciples, his friends, to do even greater works in greater amounts, when they do those works in the name of Jesus. In Jesus departure, he exhorted his followers to continue his work: to carry out his teaching, to feed the hungry, to heal those who are sick, to spread Jesus ministry all around the world. Yes, Jesus was going away, but his love and work would continue.
3 3 III. Embracing Jesus peace (14:27-29) And before Jesus departs, he leaves his peace. Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid (14:27). So what is this peace that Jesus leaves? He doesn t banish all evil and violence from the world, at least not yet Rather, Jesus leaves a peace to his followers that conquers fear, that banishes worry, that defeats death. Jesus leaves a peace that will help his followers boldly face all of life, even the most difficult parts. Yes, Jesus was going away, but his love, work, and peace would continue. But still, Jesus is leaving. Sure, it sounds great to continue his way of love, to embody his powerful actions, and to be filled with presence of peace, but are those things even realistic? How would that be possible without him around? As we mentioned earlier, it s often a friend s presence that gives us the confidence to truly live (be ourselves, live to full potential). When friends leave, it can be difficult to stay in touch. It is sometimes easier to forget about them, no matter how close they were, and simply move on. But that s where Jesus inserts a very important piece of information. Yes, he will go away to be with the Father, but he s coming right back! He s not leaving for good! The Father Sends the Spirit (14:16; 26) Jesus says: If you love me, you will obey my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever. He is the Spirit who reveals the truth about God (John 14:15-17a). God will send another helper. The Spirit of Truth will continue Jesus ministry here on earth for all of time. And the Spirit will accomplish this through the hearts, hands, and feet of the people that Jesus has called his friends. All we have to do to receive the Spirit is to obey his commandments. So what are Jesus commandments? Sounds like a list of rules doesn t it?: don t smoke or drink or jaywalk, or chew gum while playing an instrument What sounds to us like a list of rules is actually something different altogether.
4 4 What is Jesus central command? We read it earlier: Jesus says My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you. Jesus commandments doesn t refer to a list of rules, but rather gets right to the heart of living. We must live lives of love: for ourselves, for each other, and for all people made in the image of God. And to know the way of love, we must look to Jesus, whom God sent into the world because of love. This isn t your sappy, soap- opera kind of love, but deep love for each other, love that is willing to risk everything for the benefit of others. This is true friendship kind of love, and it isn t easy. But Jesus gives us the perfect example. Jesus is the greatest kind of friend, the kind that is always there when you need him. Jesus is the kind of friend that is there to encourage, to cry with, to speak on your behalf. You see, the word that Jesus uses to describe the Spirit is actually a word with several different layers of meaning. If you check different translations of the Bible, you will notice that some say Helper, while others say Advocate, counselor, or friend. So, To understand how Jesus continues to be our friend through the work of the Spirit, we must first understand the different meanings of this word. I ll highlight three key meanings. I. Helper First, helper. The Spirit is the presence of Jesus who comes to lend assistance in various tasks. The spirit comes to give God s people the strength and energy to do what they have to do, to live for God and witness to his love in the world. 1 In John 14:26, Jesus says that the Helper will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you. In John 15:26, Jesus says that the helper will speak about Jesus and thus empower Jesus followers to speak about him as well. Thirdly, in John 16:13, Jesus says that the Spirit will lead his followers into all truth. The Spirit is one who helps us along on our journey of faith. We must understand that the Spirit is not present to help us with whatever we want: to help us find a good parking space at the grocery store, to help us buy a new sports car, to help us get a good grade on a test. The Spirit is present to help us continue Jesus way of life: to show Jesus love, to do Jesus works, and to embody Jesus peace. The Spirit is the helping presence of Jesus among us, helping us to understand and live Jesus way of life. 1 N.T. Wright, John for Everyone, 61.
5 5 II. Comforter A second meaning for this word describing the Spirit is comforter. Just as a good friend knows when to offer help and encouragement, that same friend also knows when to offer comfort, whether that s through words, hugs, ice cream, or simply being present in the midst of difficult times. This is another key aspect of the work of the Spirit, providing comfort through the rough patches in life. III. Advocate A third meaning for this word describing the Spirit is advocate. An advocate stands up in a court of law and explains to the judge or jury how things are from his or her client s point of view. The advocate pleads the case. 2 One s advocate speaks on her behalf. There are moments in life when we aren t able to speak for ourselves. Maybe we don t have the words. Maybe the people in authority just won t listen. In these situations, we need an advocate to speak on our behalf, to make sure we aren t forgotten. God the Father will never forget or forsake us because Jesus and the Spirit are our advocates as we carry out Jesus way of life. The Spirit is the continuing presence of Jesus in the world. The Spirit is another helper, comforter, advocate just like Jesus. Jesus is a friend, he s a friend next to you through the powerful, encouraging, comforting presence of the Spirit. Through the Spirit, Jesus not only walks alongside of us, but actually lives inside of us. Living in Jesus Name Jesus goes to the Father, and God the Father sends the Spirit in the name of Jesus. You might remember that at the beginning of our passage, Jesus told his followers: I will do whatever you ask for in my name, so that the Father s glory will be shown through the Son (14:13). So what does it mean for the Spirit to come in the name of Jesus? What does it mean to ask for things in the name of Jesus? What does it mean to live in the name of Jesus? 2 N.T. Wright, John for Everyone, 61.
6 6 Well it doesn t mean thinking of all the things we want and asking for them in Jesus name. In the name of Jesus, I want a new tractor, a flat screen TV, and a million dollars. No. Asking for things in Jesus name means being in- tune with the things that Jesus wants us to ask for, things like peace, reconciliation, love. Things like justice, hope, and joy. Living in Jesus name, then, means representing Jesus name in the world, continuing his love, works, and peace. This isn t about us, it s about glorifying God through the way we live. The Spirit, who comes in Jesus name, is the one who lives within us and teaches us how to represent Jesus name in all that we do and say. When we look to Jesus, we see that the Spirit is first and foremost sent by God to continue Jesus ministry in the world through the ones that Jesus has called friends. And we are all Jesus friends when we embody his way of love. Therefore, may we receive this Spirit, this helper, comforter, and advocate. May we receive the Spirit not for our own benefit, but for the benefit of the people we encounter and world we live in. May we live Spirit- filled lives of love, grace, and peace in the name of Jesus. May it be so. Amen.