These Things - A Meditation
C. W. Flower, London
In this meditation we find ourselves at the feet of the Lord Jesus as He is giving His last instructions to His own before His passion and death on the cross. The disciples are going to need special help to carry them through the difficult period ahead. His words to them were to be in peace and although there was the cloud of the cross overhanging, peace was that which filled Him. To begin with we look at the scripture, John 14. 25-31; 7. 37-39.
2. The Coming of the Holy Spirit
The coming of the Holy Spirit is closely linked to the cross. The writer reminds us that the coming of the Spirit was linked also to the glorifying of Christ, and when He does come it is His task to bring to remembrance all that the Lord had taught them. So the cross, the glorifying of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit are all closely linked. This leads to three things: 1) Jesus is going away, 'I go to prepare a place'. This was essential in order that as Pioneer He might make ready the way for all His own to follow. 2) We need help from outside ourselves for in the next chapter there is the emphasis on the abiding and depending on the Saviour. This help can only come from God the Holy Spirit. 3) To this end they need to be prepared.
3. The Appeal And Invitation From The Lord
'If any man thirst'. The giving of the Spirit is the result of a real thirst for the Lord. Our problem so often is that we are not thirsty enough for Him. The prophet of old said that there would be a famine for the word of God, and in many cases this is just where the need lies. The Psalmist cried out 'my soul thirsteth ... for the living God', Psa. 42, and he greatly reveals the need that he has felt; this is what the believer needs today, to have a sense of need. We use the term believer, for it is to him who believes that the invitation comes, for God's Spirit will work where there is faith: for 'without faith it is impossible to please him'. Even so, everything at this point is suspended until Calvary, and His work on the cross is accomplished. It seems that God is holding all things until the redemptive work is done.
4. Redemption And Possession Of The Holy Spirit - One Work
It may be thought by some that the two are separate experiences, but in reality it is all one continuous work. We begin where we must always commence, at the cross. It is here that we at once see the greatness of our personal sinfulness. Can we ever sound the depth of the sin which necessitated the cross? It was not just our missing the mark, but the uprising of a spirit of rebellion and an intent to live independently of all the prevailing love and grace of God, which up to that point had followed and sought out such as we were. In the epistles we are reminded that we were dead in trespasses and sins, and in another place we are told of the release of the greatness of the power that was needed to let the light of the gospel shine into our hearts was none other than that which was needed to bring about the work of creation, 2 Cor. 4. 6.
Here at the cross of Calvary forgiveness of sin is found, and cleansing from the guilt of sin is made. For sin to be forgiven and the sinner made clean sin has to be exposed; it is no good seeking to hide it. It has to be exposed and judged and the place for that was at the cross. So often man tries to go round papering over the cracks, covering up only to find out eventually that a deep drastic work has to be done later on. This is just the starting point. Now this all follows on from what Jesus had said at the start of this chapter 14, 'Believe on Me' (JND). But believing has also its counterpart, e.g., 'if you love me keep my commandments'.
The coming of the Comforter requires that the spirit and nature that was manifested in Christ are to be found in the one who is His follower. The character of the saint (for such we are in Christ) is to be akin to that of his Master. If we therefore love Him we shall do what He says to us. This we can do, for He will put His power within us as has been promised.
5. The Holy Spirit - Our Helper - Advocate - Comforter
There is a lot being said in this decade on this matter, and there is no doubt that there is accompanying confusion, but our only guide in all these matters is the Scripture. Firstly, Jesus says quite clearly God will give such in Jesus' name. There is no thought of strain, agonising or pleading, but we can take His word when He says, 'The Father will give in my Name' and the Spirit comes as a gift. We do not ask for gifts from men, they come unsolicited and undeserved. So God gives to us of His Spirit and the three members of the Godhead are involved, the Father sends, the Son asks, and the Holy Spirit takes up residence within. As a hymn-writer said, 'If our faith were but more simple we should take Him at his word', and that is just the point. The Holy Spirit comes as One alongside and then begins the transformation.
Politicians may talk about an age of change, or being in the business of making changes, but God has been in the business of changing the hearts of men for centuries and has never stopped. It is all to bring the believer to conformity to the nature of His Son. There is such a lot to be done in this respect. It is true that the change from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of the Son of His Love is instantaneous, but then begins a process when we enter into the School of Christ. Much of the natural has to be undone and a new set of values taught. How difficult some of these lessons are! But He who is the Executor of the things of Christ will not let us go until we have grasped the meaning.
We do not learn all at once but by degrees, and when we move on to the next one we find that our appreciation gets deeper all the time. So we are taught some of the deeper lessons in dependence on the Lord, and are moulded into His family of saints. The objective is that His Son should be glorified in His people, for Jesus said 'I go, but I will come again to receive you to myself. In that day the believer will be like Christ - and this is why He left His peace with them, and us, when He declared these things, 'I have said unto you while abiding with you' - and this is one of THESE THINGS.