The Best Way to Really Know Jesus

Abide (John 14-16)  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  31:50
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This is a manuscript, and not a transcript of this message. The actual presentation of the message differed from the manuscript through the leading of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is possible, and even likely that there is material in this manuscript that was not included in the live presentation and that there was additional material in the live presentation that is not included in this manuscript.
Let me begin by asking you a question this morning:
Why do you obey God?
Now obviously by asking that question I’m assuming that you do obey God, or at least that you’re attempting to do that in your life. And hopefully that assumption is correct. So go ahead and think about that question for a moment. I’ve given you some space on your sermon outline to write down your answer or answers.
I’m going to take a stab at this and see if I can’t guess what you wrote down.
It’s possible that some of you obey God because you think it will make Him like you better or earn favor with Him.
Some of you might obey God out of gratitude for what He has done for you.
Some of you obey God because you want to do what is pleasing to Him.
Some of you obey God because you think that you’ll be blessed if you do that.
At least a couple of those answers are legit. We ought to obey God out of gratitude for what He has done for us. And we ought to want to please God by obeying Him.
But I’m going to suggest to you that there is an even better and more important reason that we should obey God. And we’re going to see that reason in the passage that we’ll be studying this morning.
Last week we began our study of Jesus’ Upper Room Discourse. And we learned that...

When my heart is troubled I need Jesus’ presence more than I need His plan

We don’t need a plan or a formula or a road map because Jesus is the way to God and if we practice His presence in our lives, then we will find our way to God.
This morning we’ll pick up where we left off last week and begin in verse 15 of John 14. I’m going to come back and read the entire passage in just a moment, but before we do that I want to focus our attention on a key theme that is woven throughout this passage by looking at several individual verses:
John 14:15 ESV
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
I’m going to come back to this idea later, but the verb “keep” in this verse is not exactly the same as “obey”, although it is very close. Notice the connection that Jesus makes here between loving Him and keeping His commandments.
John 14:21 ESV
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.”
Jesus says essentially the same thing again, but this time He adds several blessings that accompany keeping His commandments. God the Father will love that person. Jesus will love that person, and Jesus will also manifest, or reveal Himself more fully to that person. So hopefully you’re starting to see a reason to obey that goes beyond some of your earlier answers.
John 14:23 ESV
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.
Once again we see the connection between loving Jesus and keeping His commandments, although this time He uses the phrase “my word” rather that the phrase “my commandments”. I would suggest that He is merely using typical Hebrew parallelism here and that “his commandments” and “his word” are the same thing. But notice the result of keeping His commandments here. He repeats the idea that God the Father will love that person. But then He adds an incredible statement. Jesus and God the Father will make their home with that person.
The word translated “home” in that verse is the same word translated “room” back in verse 2. Hopefully, you’ll remember from last week, that it means “a place to stay” or “an abode”. It is the noun form of the verb “abide” that we’re going to see in chapter 15 next week.
Do you see how incredible this is? Think about what it means for Jesus and the Father to make a home with us. That is the most intimate relationship possible. Hopefully you now see the best reason for us to obey Jesus. When we do that we get to experience a deeper intimacy with Jesus. So here is the big idea that we’re going to develop this morning:

Loving obedience is the key to deeper intimacy with Jesus

That’s really encouraging isn’t it. But if we’re honest, it’s also a bit intimidating because we all know we’re incapable of keeping Jesus’ commandments perfectly. But the good news is that we don’t have to do that on our own.
With that in mind, go ahead and follow along as I read our entire passage:
John 14:15–31 ESV
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.” 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. 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.
Before we proceed, let me remind you of our main idea again:

Loving obedience is the key to deeper intimacy with Jesus

Before we talk about the practical application of this passage, I want to share something that I have a really hard time wrapping my mind around. Most of us are familiar with the concept of the Trinity - the idea that God is one, but that He also consists of three distinct persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Notice that I said most of us are familiar with that idea - I didn’t say we completely understand it. I know I don’t, so if you do let’s sit down and talk so you can explain it to me.
But in this passage, we not only see the Trinity, there is actually what I would call a “quadinity”. Again, I don’t fully understand it, but the concept is mind blowing. I’ve created a graphic to show it the best I can.
Here in this chapter Jesus brings His disciples, and therefore us, too, right into the middle of this relationship that exists among the three persons of the Godhead.
Although it certainly caught those disciples by surprise, most of us aren’t caught off guard when Jesus claims that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him. But Jesus doesn’t just call us to admire the majesty of the Trinity, He reveals that we are actually a part of it.
The idea that Jesus is in us and we are in Him is pretty amazing, isn’t it. Then add to that, the fact that the Holy Spirit is also in us, and my mind really is blown. Like I say, I can’t totally explain all this, but it sure is encouraging. Talk about intimacy!


Consider Jesus’ example (v. 31)
I’m going to begin at the end of our passage. Jesus ends this section of His discourse by exhorting His disciples to look to Him as an example.
The world knew that Jesus loved the Father because He obeyed the Father’s commands, especially the hard ones like going to the cross and taking upon Himself the sins of the entire world. I’m reminded here of Jesus’ prayer to His Father in the Garden right before He went to the cross:
Luke 22:42 ESV
42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
Or how about what Jesus said to His disciples after talking to the Samaritan woman at the well:
John 4:34 ESV
34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.
Throughout His life here on earth, Jesus consistently obeyed His Father and demonstrated His live for the Father.
In the same way, the world will know that we genuinely love Jesus when we willingly obey Him, not only when it’s easy to do so, but also when His commands might not make sense or when they might put us at odds with this world.
I can relate to that when I think about my own father. Obviously, like all of our fathers, he was an imperfect man. But the way that I showed the people around me that I loved my dad was to obey him, even when I didn’t understand why or didn’t agree with what he was telling me to do.
Ultimately obedience is a matter of trust. Jesus trusted that His Father wouldn’t ask Him to do anything that wasn’t part of His plan or anything that wasn’t for His ultimate good. We need to trust Jesus like that.
Submit to the indwelling Holy Spirit (vs. 16-17, 25-26)
We obviously don’t have time this morning to do an in-depth study of the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. But I am going to spend a bit more time here since it is the main idea that Jesus shares with His disciples here.
Right after Jesus claims that if His disciples love Him, they will obey Him, He reveals that He is going to send them some help that will make that possible.
Jesus promises that when He leaves to go to the Father, He will send “another Helper”. In Greek, there are a couple of different words that can be translated “another” in English.
The Greek word “heteros” means “another of a different kind”. We get our English word “heterosexual”, which means a relationship between two people of a different sex, from that word. But Jesus uses a different word here – the Greek word “allos”, which means “another of the same kind.”
Jesus is saying here that the Helper He was going send was going to be like Him. He would be just like Jesus in almost every way. In fact, the only significant difference is that His leadership would be invisible as opposed to the leadership of Jesus which had been physical and visible. But other than that, the Holy Spirit would think, behave, and operate in exactly the way that Jesus had.
Next we see the word “Helper”. In other translations, the underlying Greek word is translated “comforter” or “advocate” or “counselor”. While those are all good translations, none of them can singularly express the full meaning of that word.
The Greek word John uses there is “parakletos”, which is a compound word:
“para” (beside) + “kletos” (to call or invite) =
“to call alongside”
Maybe the best way we could picture what that word meant to Jesus’ followers is to think of the helper as a coach – one who comes alongside an athlete to help them accomplish their goals. That coach is constantly reinforcing everything the athlete is doing correctly and making corrections and providing instruction when the athlete needs to improve his or her performance in some area.
That’s essentially the role Jesus had played in the lives of His followers while He was on earth. He encouraged them when they followed Him faithfully. He rebuked them when they strayed off course. He provided instruction when their understanding was inadequate.
He was going to leave them now, but He was going to send another that would be just like Him in providing that kind of coaching in their lives. But even though the other Helper, the Holy Spirit would do the same things that Jesus had done for them, He was going to do that in an amazing, supernatural way.
We don’t have time to discuss all that the Holy Spirit does in our lives, but let’s briefly look at three roles He fulfills.
The role of the Holy Spirit:
Reveal truth (v. 17)
Jesus calls the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of truth”.
We live in a world today that largely does not believe in absolute truth. But we shouldn’t really be surprised at that. Only those who are genuine disciples of Jesus receive the Holy Spirit into their lives. So the rest of the world does not have the advantage of Him guiding them into the truth.
So it’s hard to know what is really true and what’s not true. But if we’ll allow Him, the Holy Spirit will help us discern the truth.
Teach us (v. 26)
I’m sure that most of you, like me, have had a wide range of teachers in your lives. Some of those teachers were very effective and others, not so much. However, ultimately in every case I was responsible for my own learning. If I wanted to learn, I had to read the textbook, listen to the lectures and take notes, participate in class projects, study for exams, and apply what I learned. No teacher could force me to learn if I didn’t participate in the learning process.
The same thing is true for the Holy Spirit. As He dwells permanently in my life, He is always available to teach me. But I have to participate in the learning process. And the main way I do that is by reading the textbook - my Bible - on a regular basis. Since the Holy Spirit is the author of that book, He is uniquely qualified to help me understand what is written there and apply it in my life.
I’ve found the best way to do that is to pray before I read the Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to teach me as I read. I am confident that is a prayer that He delights in answering.
Help us remember the things of Jesus (v. 26)
For the disciples of Jesus who did not yet have the New Testament, this was crucial in the early church. Most of the New Testament was written well after Jesus’ life here on earth, so it was essential for the Holy Spirit to help the New Testament authors remember what Jesus had said. For instance, the gospel of John may have been written as late as 60 or 70 years after the resurrection of Jesus. I certainly know that without the Holy Spirit I could never remember what anyone said that long ago.
Again, today the Holy Spirit primarily carries out this task through the Bible. But I think that most of us have also experienced those times when the words of Jesus came to our minds just when we needed them for that specific situation. No doubt, that is the work of the Holy Spirit.
I can’t remember where I saw this as I was studying this week, but I love this summary of how the Holy Spirit works in our lives:
The Holy Spirit has been sent in our lives to help us love Jesus and love others by obeying Jesus.
Every moment of every day, the Holy Spirit is available to us to be that coach who guides us, teaches us, rebukes us and trains us to live lives that are obedient to Jesus. But He won’t ever force us to follow Him. That’s why I’ve said that we need to choose to submit to His leading in our lives.
Delight in God’s commands (vs. 18-24, 25-29)
Here’s where I want to talk for moment about the difference between obeying the commands of Jesus and “keeping” them.
The Greek verb translated “keep” is tereo.  It means “to guard, to observe, to attend to carefully.”  Keeping the commandments of Jesus is not merely a matter of lip service. It means that we don’t obey merely outwardly, but from the heart.
Jesus often condemned the Pharisees because they were so focused on outward obedience but their hearts were far from God. Here’s just one example:
Mark 7:6 ESV
6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
Jesus tells us here that His words are not His own. They came from His Father. Jesus obviously delighted in those words. His obedience was never only outward. He obeyed from the heart.
I love what John wrote about the commandments of Jesus in his first letter:
1 John 5:3 ESV
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
Do you view the commandments of Jesus like that? Do you delight in your heart to keep His commandments or are they a burden to you and you only obey them outwardly, and you do that begrudgingly?
At this point, I know that some of you are thinking something like this. “I try or keep the commandments of Jesus, but I fail at times. Does that mean I don’t love Jesus?” Let me encourage you with the words of Jesus:
John 17:6 ESV
6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
This is the prayer that Jesus prays right after the Upper Room discourse that we are studying. And He tells His Father that His disciples have “kept His word”. Really? The same guys that were arguing at the Passover supper about who was greatest? The same ones that would desert Jesus in just a few hours? How about Peter who would deny he even knew Jesus?
What I think these words demonstrate is that keeping Jesus’ commandments is more about direction than perfection. It’s about having a heart that delights in obeying God’s Word and which mourns when we don’t.
We’ve seen this morning that...

Loving obedience is the key to deeper intimacy with Jesus

So that means that if you’re really serious about developing a deeper intimacy with Jesus, you may very well need to make some changes in your life:
First, and most important, if you’ve never placed your faith in Jesus alone, then you need to do that today. Until you do that, you won’t have the Holy Spirit in your life. And without Him, you can’t possibly keep the commandments of Jesus. I’d love to help you make that commitment, so talk to me after the service, fill out one of the tan “Next Step” cards in the chair backs or contact me using the information in the bulletin.
Fortunately, I believe that most of us here have already done that. But are you really keeping the commandments of Jesus in a way that it enhances your relationship with Him?
If not, then perhaps you need to do a better job of yielding your life to the Holy Spirit. As you consistently spend time in God’s Word, ask Him to teach you and lead you into truth.
Finally, the most practical thing that all of us can do is to just obey what we already know. Far too often we go around searching for God’s will, when we’ve failed to do what He’s already asked us to do. Why should He reveal the next step when we haven’t obeyed what He has already revealed?
Do you really want to know God more deeply and intimately? The very best way to do that is to willingly, lovingly and with great delight obey what you already know. When you do that, Jesus has promised that He and His Father will come take up residence in your life. That’s a pretty amazing promise, isn’t it?
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