John 14:15-24 The Promise of a Helper

John 14:15-24    The Promise of a Helper                            WC McCarter
Let me give you some personal examples of the power of God’s word. Last Sunday I preached John 14:1-14 which I had decided to preach months ago. I was told by a few people that it was a comfort when they really needed it, and a couple of others told me that the sermon “stepped all over their toes.” Now, did I plan that? No. Do I know everything about your situations so that I can preach directly at you? No. But God knows your situations, and He will give you what you need when you need it. He cares for you, and His word is living and active. It just so happens that we designated this Sunday (just before Valentine’s Day) as Love Sunday. When I planned my sermon schedule, I did not know that we would have Love Sunday, and I did not think about Valentine’s Day. I usually do not plan sermons around holidays, except for Christmas and Easter. Yet, we come to a passage today about love. We could call this coincidence, or we can be thankful to God for His care for us.
Everyone likes to talk about Jesus’ love for us. It is no wonder that the most famous Bible verse is John 3:16. Everyone enjoys hearing about God’s love for the world. But, it is another thing to start talking about our love for one another; it’s another thing to talk about our love for God; it’s another thing to talk about loving our enemies. Today’s passage begins and ends with the subject of our love for the Lord Jesus. Plenty of people claim to love Jesus, but the Lord knows who loves Him, and He talks about it in John 14.
Within these brackets of love for Christ, there are encouraging promises made. The Lord promises that another Helper will be coming to the disciples in His place and that although He is leaving, He will later manifest Himself to them.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Another Helper (15-17)
Obedience is in keeping with prayer. Those Christians who are fruitful are those who pray in Jesus’ name and obey His commandments. Jesus has taught about love, shown His love for the disciples and the world, and He has even commanded the disciples to love one another. Now He discusses their love for Him. He makes a simple statement, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” This is a fact. If you are a Christian, you will love Christ, and you will follow His commands. The Apostle heard Jesus say this, recorded it here in this Gospel, and plainly taught the same thing in his epistle. 1 John 5:3 says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” A necessary point needs to be made though: love is not equivalent to obedience; love is the source of obedience. We obey His commandments precisely because we love Him. What are His commandments? They are not restricted to part of His teaching, but include everything that He taught. Two of the greatest commands are: “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent” (John 6:29), and “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34).
In verses 16-17, we are introduced to the first of five passages in the Upper Room about the Holy Spirit. I believe the “Helper” is the Holy Spirit for several reasons, but it is obvious here that the Helper is called the “Spirit of truth.” The word “Helper” has been translated many ways: Advocate (NIV), Counselor (HCSB), Comforter (KJV), and many more. The point is that one English word cannot adequately stand for the Greek word. In fact, it means all of these things and more. The Lord promised that the Holy Spirit would come to help the disciples, counsel, comfort, strengthen, support, and advocate for them.
So, Jesus now begins to assert some new revelations. He promises to speak to the Father in behalf of His followers (those who pray in His name, love Him, and obey Him). He is leaving, but in response to His request another Helper is coming. Here we are told four things about this Helper: (1) He will abide with Christians forever, (2) He is the Spirit of truth, (3) the world cannot receive Him, and (4) He will dwell within Christians. This Helper sounds a lot like Jesus, doesn’t He?
In fact, the word “another” signals just that. Jesus is calling Himself a Helper. If there is another, then there must have been a first. Jesus was physically with the disciples, He was Himself the truth and declared truth to the men, the world did not receive Him, and He was known by His followers. Also, the word “another” means “another of the exact same kind.” As we can see, the Holy Spirit will be doing the same things that Jesus has done for the disciples during His time with them. Yet, despite all of the comparisons, there are some things that contrast. Jesus was only with the disciples for three years, but the Spirit will be with them forever. Jesus was visible image of the invisible God, but the second Helper is Spirit. The world could see the first advocate that they rejected, but they cannot see the second. Jesus dwelt with the disciples on a daily basis, but the Spirit will dwell within them.
I Will Not Leave You Orphans (18-21)
Jesus, again, wants to comfort these men. They have been devastated by the news that their Lord is leaving. Although He is still there in the room with them, they are probably already feeling abandoned, but Jesus says, “I will not leave you as orphans.” In hindsight, we know that Jesus was doing just the opposite of leaving them as orphans when He left. He was going to the cross in order to adopt them as sons. He has done the same for you and me. He has redeemed us in order to adopt us as sons and daughters. Remember from the beginning of the chapter that Jesus promised to secure a room in the Father’s house for us. The 11 disciples were not left as orphans and neither are we. Instead, we have been adopted as sons and daughters.
Jesus says in the second part of verse 18 that He would come to them. The word “you” is plural there. He says, “I will come to y’all.” How is it that Jesus would go to them after He left? This will be answered in more detail in verses 23-24, but let me just point out that Jesus says this in the context of the Holy Spirit. Our God is Triune. He is Father, Son, Spirit. They are distinct persons, but uniquely related and inseparable. When the Spirit comes into your life, the Son comes into your life as well.
Verse 19 continues the promise, but in the context of resurrection. Jesus promises that, although the world will not be able to see Him, the disciples will be able to see Him in just a little while. Why do I think this is said in the context of resurrection? Because Jesus says next, “Because I live, you will live also.” Jesus is the life-giving Lord. He is the Creator of all things and the Redeemer of all those who love Him. Jesus said back in chapter 10 that He came to give us life and that we may have that life more abundantly. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the Resurrection and the Life. Because He lives, you will live also.
Because of the resurrection and the unfolding of the plan of redemption, the disciples will understand what Jesus has been teaching about His relationship with the Father.
The Lord repeats that the proof of love for Christ is obedience. As Christians, you and I have the commands of Christ, and we are responsible for keeping them. The one who loves Christ is the one who is loved by God the Father. That person will also be loved by Christ, and Christ promises again that He will manifest Himself to the true believer.
We Will Come to Him (22-24)
Another of the disciples takes his turn in questioning the Lord. No doubt, most of them are confused about Jesus’ teaching that night. Judas, who is distinguished from Judas Iscariot, is the one who speaks up. This man is also called Judas son of James and may be the one called Thaddeus. The fact that these men interrupt so frequently shows their friendship and comfort with Jesus (Morris, 580). They are not afraid to voice their confusion, and Jesus is usually willing to give a reply.
Judas wants to know how this all works. How is it that Jesus will manifest Himself to the disciples, but not to the world? Jesus gives His response in verses 23-24 by stating that their obedience is crucial in this relationship. Love is critical between the persons of the Trinity and also between believers and God. When the circle of love is full, God the Father and God the Son comes to dwell within the believer. Jesus does not explain how this works, He only states it as fact. I believe that we must understand the coming of the Father and Son to be by the Holy Spirit, the second Helper.
The commands of Jesus are kept by His followers and not by those of the world. Those commands, those words are not just the words of Christ, but the words of the Father. Jesus has been saying all along that He could say or do nothing without His Father. They have cooperated perfectly for all eternity. To obey the Son is to obey the Father.
Conclusion and Christian Applications
(1) The promise of the Holy Spirit is for you, Christian. This gift is not for the world. God loves the world, but He loves those who have come out of the world in a different way. You and I are His children. The world cannot see the Spirit, know Him, or receive Him. He has been given to you.
(2) The only way you can love Jesus is because you have first been loved by God. What does it mean to love Jesus? It is to obey Him. This is a simple statement fact, but this is natural for the born-again believer. He does not hold our nose to the ground and force us to follow His rules and regulations. He has spoken life into us and given us the freedom to live the way He intends for us to live and the way we want to live: peaceful, joyful, and satisfied. It is a condition of the heart. Where is your heart this morning?