(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)
The way it works
29th May 2009
Why do things have to be the way they are? Why do we have to suffer?
Why did JESUS have to suffer? That seems stranger still - He didn't deserve to suffer - but He did.
It took the twelve a long time to understand. Jesus had explained to them several times that He was going to die, and, on the evening of the last supper, He did so again (see John13v18 - 14v14). This time, he went on to explain that God would send us the Holy Spirit to be with His followers for ever:
Jesus was telling the disciples that if we OBEY Him, then God will send the Holy Spirit to us. The Holy Spirit will come alongside us (the Greek word translated "Counsellor" here really means “one who comes alongside”) and He will reveal Jesus to us.
There were two men called Judas among the twelve. One was Judas Iscariot. He had already left the group to go to betray Jesus to the religious authorities. The other Judas asked Jesus this question:
This question has been asked by Christians through the ages. It asks two different things, both of them valid:
The answer to the first question is quite unknowable. I know I don’t deserve to be chosen by God. But I know I have been chosen by him. I know that I would never had understood the gospel if God had not revealed it to me. But he did.
We know the answer to the second question, however, because Jesus gives it here.
This second question amounts to “Why not do it the easy way?” Why go through all the pain of crucifixion, when Jesus has the power to demand worship from everybody? Why suffer when you don’t have to?
This has echoes of Peter’s tempting of Jesus:
For Jesus to suffer on the cross was unthinkable. But it was necessary.
We’ll look now at Jesus’s answer to the question. Jesus starts by saying:
This is very similar to what Jesus said in verses 15-21. He’s saying that things will be done the way GOD says they will be done. This is not necessarily the easy way. But it is the right way. God will NOT force people to choose him. Instead, God will respond to those who love Jesus and obey His teaching.
This is the way it works
Jesus was saying: If anyone wants a relationship with God, then they will make some effort to start doing things God’s way. That is, they will repent. And if anyone repents of their sin and seeks God, then Jesus promises that they will find God. More than that, Jesus promises that God with make His home with them. That is, they will know the presence of God in their lives, just as they know the presence of anyone who lives in their home. That is the way it works. There is no short-cut.
Why do many Christians live without that level of experience of the presence of God? Because God’s presence in our lives is proportional to our level of repentance. To repent fully, to love Jesus fully, is to obey Him fully. To fully know his presence requires us to fully give up our attempts to control our own lives, and our own futures, and to trust in Him and obey Him in all things. Like it or not, the truth is that we all compromise to some extent – some more than others. And our experience of the presence of God in or lives is diminished as a result.
Jesus then says this:
God comes to all Christians in the Holy Spirit. He makes His home with us. And He gives us His peace.
Do not be afraid.
Trust in God.
Yield all that you are and all that you have to Him.
And you will know His peace. He will make His home with you. You will know his presence day by day. And He will prove that He is trustworthy.
Can you do that?