Gone, But Not Forgotten.

These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 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. 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. 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. – John 14:25-28 ESV

As the time for His crucifixion drew near, Jesus began to ramp up the intensity of His teaching to the disciples. In an attempt to prepare them for all that was about to happen, He inundated them with increasingly more detailed specifics regarding the events surrounding His arrest, trials, death and resurrection. He broke the news to Peter he would end up denying Him. He told them He was going to prepare a place for them and would one day return for them. He claimed to be the way, the truth and the life; and the only way of access to the Father. Then He dropped a bombshell by telling them “whoever believes in my will also do the words that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12 ESV). That pieces of news had to have left the disciples’ heads spinning. And that was followed up by the promise of “another Helper” – the Holy Spirit – who would live in them. Taking in all of this information had to have been like drinking from a fire hose for the disciples. It was information overload. And in the midst of it all, Jesus told them, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1 ESV).

Their belief in God was to be focused on His promise of the Messiah. They needed to believe that Jesus was the One for whom they had long been waiting. But they also needed to believe Jesus and take Him at His word when He promised to be with them, even though He was leaving them. They needed to believe that Jesus was going back to the Father and would be preparing a place for them, and that the Father would send another Helper to not only be with them, but live within them. It was essential that they believe the reality of the coming Holy Spirit and understand His function. Jesus said, “he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26 ESV). Jesus would be gone, but far from forgotten because the Holy Spirit would provide the disciples with a perfect recall of all of His teachings from the last three years. But not only would they remember all that Jesus said, they would understand, probably for the first time. When we read the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, it would be easy to wonder how they could have recalled so well what Jesus had said. I doubt very seriously that they were taking copious notes during their time with Jesus. But Jesus’ promise that the Holy Spirit would supernaturally energize their memories explains a lot. They would be given a Spirit-empowered capacity to recall the teachings of Jesus and to understand them. The result of this would be peace. Jesus said, “Peace I have with you; my peace I give to you” (John 14:27 ESV). Their ability to enjoy peace in the midst of all that would take place in the days after Jesus’ death and resurrection would be the direct result of the Spirit’s presence and His instruction regarding the words of Jesus. Paul reminds us that the fruit of the Spirit are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,  and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV). These are the characteristics of Jesus. As the Spirit teaches us about Jesus, we see His character produces in our lives. He is gone, but far from forgotten. He is absent physically, but with us spiritually. Jesus said, “In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” (John 14:20 ESV). When the Holy Spirit came, the disciples realized that the very Spirit of God had taken up residence within them. Not only did they have the Holy Spirit present with then, they had the indwelling presence of the entire Godhead – Father, Son and Spirit. Jesus clearly said, “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” (John 14:23 ESV).

Jesus left. He returned to the Father. But He did not leave us alone. The very Spirit God Himself lives within us. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit have made their home with us. Paul tells us, “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Romans 8:9 ESV). The Godhead, in all its triune glory, lives within each and every believer. Can I explain it? No. But I believe it. We have the full essence of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – living within us. And that formidable presence allows us to understand the Word and the will of God, as well as the commandments of Jesus. And not only do we have the capacity to understand them, we have the Spirit-empowered strength to obey them. So that we can increase in our knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10) and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).

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