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The Promise of the Spirit

If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. (John 14:15-18)

According to the ways of a good and gentle Shepherd, our Lord seeks to bring comfort to His grieving disciples regarding His departure from them. In reality, His leaving them will mean that He will be more near to them than if He had stayed with them. The disciples could not grasp this yet since the promise had not yet been given. We ought to be careful not to be too harsh in our judgments of these ordinary men—we would have missed what Jesus was saying, as well. They were not incapable of understanding the words Jesus spoke to them in John 14-16. They simply could not fully grasp the reality of His words until the Reality was given—the promise of the ages, the gift of abounding grace, the Holy Spirit of truth.

As we will study this week in Leviticus, the coming of the Spirit is the fulfillment of one of the great feast days of the Old Testament. The Feast of Weeks is the forerunner of the day of Pentecost in the New Testament. Old Testament types and shadows will give way to the fullness of blessings in the giving of this great gift. But notice that Jesus gives a “qualification” for receiving this gift. As the feasts of the Old Testament were given to God’s people and not to the world in order to distinguish them from the world and mark them as God’s holy people, so, too, this great gift will be given to His people under the new covenant—the world cannot receive Him because it does not know Him. But His disciples do know Him and they do love Him. For to love the Holy Spirit is to love Christ; and to love Christ is to obey His commandments. Only those who love Him—who keep His commandments—will receive the Comforter of promise to ease their grief and embolden them for faithful witness and service in the midst of a world that will hate them.

Mathew Henry summarizes what Jesus is saying in this way: “When Christ has given them precious promises, of the answer of their prayers and the coming of the Comforter, He lays down this as a limitation of the promises, ‘Provided you keep my commandments, from a principle of love to me.’ Christ will not be an advocate for any but those that will be ruled and advised by Him as their counsel. Follow the conduct of the Spirit, and you shall have the comfort of the Spirit.” As those who love Jesus, let us rightly prepare ourselves to come to the Table He will spread before us this coming Lord’s Day. The precious gift of the Holy Spirit could only be given to us as the Father was willing to give His Son as our ransom and the One by Whose blood our sins are forgiven. That is what we rejoice in as we gather together around that Table where the love of God in Christ is so clearly set before our eyes of faith and we receive all the treasures of His grace in Him.

In the Name of Christ, our Lover of our souls,
Pastor Ted Trefsgar

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