Reframing (Power for) Obedience | John 14:15-31
Topic: Gospel Passage: John 14:15–14:31
Introduction | Obedience
Good Morning! Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work,Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are continuing our series REFRAMING JESUS: Portraits of Glory from John’s Gospel. In Reframing Jesus, our desire isn’t to reinvent Jesus into someone He is not Instead, we seek to have our portrait of Jesus reframed to see Him as accurately and glorious as possible.
What is Obedience? We don’t like this word. Because to obey means that we’re going to acknowledge there is something or someone greater than us and we don’t like that. We like to believe we’re captain of our own souls, that we are autonomous people. But we’re not, we are created beings. We are created for a purpose. Christians believe we were created in the image of God for a purpose. That purpose is to bring God glory and to experience Joy in being in relationship with God and His people as we cultivate culture of flourishing. If God has made us, if God has given us purpose, that means God has a path for us and it means we are to be followers of Him. We are made to be responsive to Him, we are made to obey. But not as robots, but of active responsible agents. So know that obedience isn’t to somehow prove we’re worthy of God’s love and care for us or to determine our worth, but it is simply us being who we were always created and intended to be. Last week we talked about car up on blocks in the front yard, it’s good for being a lawn ordainment but it’s not good at being what it was made for or was created to be.
That’s us. We’re the car on blocks that’s not drivable. It’s not responsive to its driver it’s not living out its purpose. But it’s wasn’t always that way. Creation- When the car came out of the factory it wasn’t like that. When people “came out of the factory” we were made as intended. But something changed, Fall sin entered the world through “disobedience” to God. And every car since that has come down the line has been broken, incomplete, unable to drive perfectly and given to decay. God’s not ok with an endless line of cars hopelessly turning the world into an unending junk yard. He comes and saves His people through Jesus. But we can wrongly limit that rescue to our destination and not see how it applies to our purpose and power. I believe most of the time we think God saves us and we get to stay the car up on blocks but instead of condemned to the junk yard we get to go to the garage in the sky. What about now?
But then the Christian life seems to be as frustrating as being the car up on blocks and being told we’re made to drive and wondering why we’re not moving. It’s because just being saved from condemnation is not the good news of the Gospel. What God does is gives us new life, empowered life, to be made new to be who we were always intended to be. To be restored…. For glory and joy. But instead what we do is try to clean ourselves up, repaint, reupholster, etc. and we look so good on the outside but we’re still stuck. But we can put so much personal effort towards obedience. We can look really good for a while, we can even move if we’re pressed from the outside, if we’re placed on a hill and coast down it or towed. But ultimately when the external power stops, when the circumstances get difficult (down hill to up hill) we realize there is a lot missing in us, there is no engine, no power. If a driver gets in and hits the pedal nothing happens. So we say “Jesus take the wheel” but wonder why nothing is changing. We are the car that needs to be not refreshed on the outside but it needs to be restored, renewed, empowered from the inside. An ugly car with a great engine is a lot better at getting you to your destination than a beauty with out one. Jesus is going to teach us where real power is going to come from as we are Reframing Obedience.
PART I | Helpless Orphans | John 14:15-21
John 14:15-21 | 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
Love’s response. A restored car is a loved car. If you love me.. Order matters. It’s not an active conditional statement, Jesus doesn’t say “If you keep my commands then I’ll know you love me.” Or “Keep my commandments and I’ll love you.” He is declaring what actions flow out of what is true. It is describing the nature of our relationship not the condition of it. Love must be acted upon. God has loved us, does love us, and we respond as loved people with love for God. Our love for God will be shown by our obedience to Him and His commandments. The purpose if this response is for us to live out our purpose. Jesus has just said verses earlier that in His absence we’ll do greater works than He in the world as the church multiples Jesus’ ministry. This is impossible for us to do on our own, Jesus knows this. So as it seems Jesus’ disciples are losing their leader God’s love for them/us is shown by giving us the power we need to obey Him by the Holy Spirit.
We’re made to worship, serve, and follow Jesus. Jesus talks about the “Spirit of Truth” this is referring to the Holy Spirit the 3rd member of the trinity. He’s called the “Helper” we don’t like that word because we think it’s a “less than” word/role. But it’s actually a role of honor. “Paraclete” can mean counselor (like legal counselor one who stands in the gap), advocate (one who speaks for you in your place), or comforter (not like warm blanket well-wisher that makes you feel all warm inside but literally means to strengthen). All of these are descriptions of a person. All of these are a person who stands up for another, who encourages another, who empowers another, who cannot be justified, defended, or empowered on their own. When have you had someone stand in the gap for you, encourage or help you accomplish something you could never do on your own? These are all for a needy person, we are all needy people who need this person.
When we struggle with feelingly powerless, not advocated for, discouraged, or unable to move forward down the path before us we feel like we’re orphans. Ask yourself when have you’ve felt most alone, most disconnected? For these disciples what they’re about to go through is going to seem very disorientating and confusing in that we can feel abandoned, isolated, even… hopeless. Jesus is not going to be physically present, the world will no longer see Him, the disciple are going to be commissioned for mission feeling left alone and powerless but they’re not. The Holy Spirit will be with them it says “forever” that is an unending powers source AND presence of God in the lives of His people. It means we’re NEVER alone or powerless.
Verse 18-19 we’re no longer orphans, that’s identity, it’s who we are and it’s promise, who we’re going to be with Jesus, why? “Jesus will come to us.” You don’t need to come to Jesus. You need to know Jesus has come to you. This is Gospel in a few sentences you have identity and you’re personally (and corporately) empowered by a person, not an impersonal force. Jesus is promising this person to His people because He is about to be crucified, buried, risen, and ascend. He knows the disciples will feel abandoned and orphaned if He is not physically present. The Helper comes sent by the Father to comfort and empower. We love and obey because we’ve first been loved by God. He is the initiator. So keeping God’s commands or word is not what makes us loved by God, it is the mark of God’s love on our lives. Who experiences this power?
PART II | His Power Dwelling in Us | John 14:22-26
John 14:22-26 | 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me. 25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Following His death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus will dwell in the world through the union He has with His people through the Holy Spirit. Judas (not Iscariot) – Good distinction right there asks “What is the difference going to be in some experiencing and being empowered by you and some not?” Some will have Jesus and some won’t. What will the mark be or distinction be? God dwelling in us. Those that love God, who have been loved by God, who the outworking of that love is joyful obedience for faithful flourishing… Those are the ones who have been loved by the Father. Loving God means loving He’s word. His words of promise, His words of conviction. His words of comfort, his words of Hope, and His words of instruction. We’re back to comprehensive definition of love and obedience. In order for us to experience and respond to God in this way it cannot be man-made external pressure or even our own individual effort, something or someone greater needs to dwell in us. The love of God is “manifest” made demonstratively obvious in those where God has come to dwell. Verse 23 is plural the trinity “our home” God making His home in you means God is dwelling in you! We know Jesus is leaving (physically) for the purpose of preparing a place for us to dwell with God in Heaven 40 plus days will ascend to heaven “to prepare a place for His people” but the mission of Jesus in and through the church last longer, much longer, and our life with God is in the here and now. So in the loss they should experience great comfort and hope because they/we have the Holy Spirit with us it says “forever” but while we are waiting for that great and glorious time where we are united with God forever we are in a relationship with God where He has made His dwelling place in us! We experience the triune presence and power of God in us so we can know we are a people who are Loved by the Father, following Jesus in obedience with faith in Him, all empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Because God in us is necessary for faithfulness, you cannot keep God’s word without the love of Jesus. You can obey the commands of God for times and seasons on your own power, but you’re not going to sustain it. It also means quite simply we have different expectations for those who don’t know or claim to serve Jesus. Simply don’t expect people who don’t love Jesus to follow Jesus. You can speak out about injustice, work and desire a flourishing society, but don’t demand non-Christians act as if they are. So we don’t engage in condemnation but in calling people to the love Jesus…. Which leads to joyful obedience to God the Father. If you don’t know Jesus, I am not concerned with you responding to God with your obedience but with your allegiance. Repent of sin, because you’ve received the Love of God shown in Christ Jesus.
“God’s plan never envisioned winning over a hard-hearted unbelieving world with overwhelming audiovisual displays. Rather, he planned to redeem a people for himself. A people who...would love him in holiness that he might [live] in their hearts in love.” - Richard Phillips
It is one thing to be told we are to obey God, we can know that is true and be discouraged knowing our inability. We are encouraged when we know the power we’ve been given to obey God by God Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit. The Love of God, empowered by the Spirit is what has to drive us. We cannot be driven to obedience by duty or even a lesser love of ourselves or others. We are people driven by desire. When we’re loved by God in Jesus we have new desires to love God and others. When we’re following Jesus we’re being obedient to the Father because Jesus is giving us words from the Father. Helper isn’t less than status but a necessary agent. Helper empowers us for the purpose we’re made. We experience the presence of God in the Holy Spirit. Jesus recognizes how desperately in need they are of constant guidance and counsel. The Holy Spirit is sent in Jesus name to teach us Jesus commands and remind us of Jesus words.We are not set it and forget it disciples. We are daily bread needing disciples. The Helper is sent because the Helper is necessary because we are incapable to accomplishing God’s mission on our own strength, wisdom, or ability. The Father will send the Holy Spirit, “In my name” for a specific purpose. The Helper is to be our teacher and bring to remembrance all of Jesus teaching. We’re supposed to make disciples and teach them to observe all that Jesus commanded we need to be equipped by the Holy Spirit.
PART III | Empowered for Wholeness and Joy |John 14:27-31
John 14:27-31 | 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.
We need power for Peace, this is Shalom, wholeness with God. The wholeness of God we’re given is Jesus’ peace which is comprehensive. His peace is personal: Jesus calls it “my peace”. His peace is joyful: “If you loved me, you would have rejoiced”, says Jesus. We know difficulty and discouragement will come. But we have a foundation of joy in knowing and being known by God. His peace is enduring: it comes from Jesus who endured through death itself! His peace is given: “My peace I give to you.” This is different than what the world tries to sell us as peace, just the absence of conflict, or a unity that is superficial or lacks true relationship or doesn’t want to deal with the deep-rooted causes of strife and understanding at best.
The world’s pursuit of peace will leave us unsettled, anxious, and fearful. Because we are easily unsettled and conflicted people, the Helper also comes to give us the peace of God, calming fears, easing troubled heart to empower us for obedience to God’s mission in the world. We need this because we fail without it.
“If you loved me, you would have rejoiced” We don’t love, follow, and obey perfectly, we fail regularly.
But the outworking of Holy Spirit powered obedience and endurance is ultimately Joy. “Being loved by God, following the words of God leads us to “rejoice” at what Jesus has done for us and what He’s prepared for us to do in the Holy Spirit. We need this before and during seasons of trial and difficulty. Hope before Trial this is so needed because it helps us process and navigate things that are confusing and difficult. Jesus builds into us greater faith through seasons of suffering and trial more than any other time. Not so we can prove our power and faithful obedience in these times, but so we’ll see how much we rely on His power, and see it’s His power alone that carries and sustains us through this. There is great suffering ahead for Jesus, great distress for His disciples but there is great Hope in the midst that God is in control of everything even when it seems like everything is out of control. The enemy has no claim on Jesus so the enemy has no claim on us. It’s going to look like the enemy is winning or that God is out of control, that evil has prevailed and God has lost. But Jesus is so clear, everything that is about to happen every drop of blood shed as Jesus endures the cross is part of a divine act of perfect painful obedience for the purpose of adopting in to the family where God dwells in us through the Holy Spirit when we Trust Jesus.