|Posted on March 12, 2020 at 10:45 AM|
After 40 plus years of trying to teach people to love others like Christ I am convinced of two things. Number one, the need for such relational ministry is greater now than it ever has been. And number two, I can’t convince anyone to love others the way Christ does no matter what I say or do. Studying the way Jesus prepared his disciples for this ministry in the upper room reveals the many obstacles he faced in overcoming their natural self-centered concerns to set them free to fulfill his new commandment. Loving others the way Jesus does is both counterintuitive and supernatural. It requires the miraculous work of the Comforter Jesus promised helpless disciples.
In connection with his call to follow his directions (keep his commandments) in his absence Jesus promised to pray the Father to send them another of the same kind of Comforter he had been to them for three years. During their time with him Jesus had carried his disciples through some of the most troubled times of their lives. When they were afraid he was there to assure them. When they were confused he was there to direct them. He provided for their every need (both physical and personal) every day they were with him. Now he tells them of another Comforter that will continue to meet their needs just as he did.
He identified this Comforter as “the Spirit of truth” and later calls him the “Holy Spirit” known as the “Spirit of God”. The fact that he initially named him the Comforter suggests his emphasis on assuring his worried disciples that their needs would continue to be met even in his physical absence. After explaining the fact that the natural world could not see, receive, or know the Comforter Jesus went on to assure his disciples that they had experienced him living with them and would soon experience him living in them. It was the Spirit of God leading Jesus in all he did or said that the disciples experienced as living with them. Now Jesus announced that the same Spirit they had witnessed in him would be living in them.
The promise of the indwelling Spirit of truth is perhaps the single most important provision Jesus made for his disciples to continue his work of loving others. As he will explain further in this last ministry training class the way his disciples and us can fulfill the new commandment to love others the way he does is through the power of the same Spirit that empowered him. The indwelling Spirit of God that is given to all believers, the Comforter, lives within the new person God has made us to be in Christ to lead and guide us into all truth, comfort us with the love and assurance of Jesus meeting our needs, teach and remind us of his instructions, and make Jesus as real to us as he was to those first disciples. Every obstacle preventing our loving others like Christ is overcome by the indwelling Spirit of God.
The apostle Paul would later write about this promise of the Comforter in his various letters to the church. In his prayer for the Ephesians he asks the Father, “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith…” Only the personal leadership and power of the indwelling Comforter can empower us to love others like Jesus.