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"'I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me any more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.' Then Judas (not Iscariot) said, 'But Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?' Jesus replied, 'Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love him and we will come and make our home with him. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.'" John 14:18-24 NIV.
We are dealing with a fairly long passage of Scripture today, but it is important that we look at the whole piece because there are some very important teachings in it.
It was difficult for the disciples to make the transition from the seen to the unseen. As Jews they understood abstract ideas through action. Take, for example, the word "holy" meaning items that are set aside for a special purpose. The Hebrew verb is qadash and the nouns derived from it are qodesh and qadosh.
"'Do not come any closer,' God said.’Take off your sandals for the place where you are standing in holy (qodesh) ground (ground set aside for a special purpose). Exodus 3:5.
"When these words are translated as "holy", the original Hebraic meaning is removed and replaced with an abstract word that conveys the idea of pious, perfect or sinless. But the Hebraic concept of these words is about the position of a person or object and does not necessarily have to be a "holy" position." The Living Words Volume 1, Jeff A Benner, Virtualbookworm.com Publishing Inc, 2007, page 84, article "Holy".
One can understand why it puzzled them that Jesus was talking about "going away" and "showing Himself" to them but not to the world. They did not realise that He was speaking about living in another realm in which they could be "in the world but not of the world."
This realm into which, from Jesus' perspective, they had already entered although they did not yet fully understand it, was entered through recognizing who He was and entered into by faith in Him. Hence Jesus' insistence that they believe in Him, without which faith they could never experience what He was talking about.
But faith in and of itself was not enough to embrace the fullness of the life Jesus had come to give them. Without a passionate love for Him, faith was sterile and would not issue in the kind of obedience that was more than mere compliance with what Jesus "commanded". He spoke of a union with Himself and with the Father that was so close that it produced a spontaneous obedience out of submission to Him and the Father that did not question or resist but simply flowed with the will of God in perfect harmony.
What I find significant in this passage is that Jesus spoke of this union and obedience as though it were already a reality in their lives. They were still to enter into greater measures of its fullness but they already had the life of God in them because they believed in Him, and their love for Him was real and growing. They had developed a dependence upon Him that would be shaken by the whole cross event but would be rekindled as they learned to relate to the Holy Spirit as Jesus' "other self".
It was important that they realise that they were to see themselves as sons of God and not as orphans! How important this is in the life of every believer because the "orphan heart" robs us of everything we have in Christ and neutralises our effectiveness as His representatives of the kingdom of God. As orphans we have no sense of belonging, no inheritance and we live like slaves in the fear of punishment.
Only as we recognise and embrace our sonship can we live in the power, authority and resources of our position, and experience the perfect love of God that drives out fear and can respond with faith and love that enable us to appropriate all that we are and have "in Christ".
"See what great love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1a NIV.
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18 NIV.
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