'Jesus with me today'
John 14. 15-21
If only Jesus Christ could be here on earth at this difficult time what a help and strength that would be. If He were to knock on my front door in these coming days I am sure it would make things much better. He would bring God’s peace to me and into my home. I could talk with Him about all the problems and uncertainties which I face and I could ask Him for His help and guidance.
It would indeed be wonderful if Jesus Christ were to walk into our home in this time of pandemic. We would be the most privileged people on earth. But if Jesus Christ the man were to be in your home then He could not be in mine. Nor could He be in the homes of millions of other Christians all around the world. It’s a physical impossibility
In our Gospel reading Jesus Christ says something which may sound quite puzzling. He says to those first disciples that it is to their advantage that He is going away. It will be to their advantage that after His death and resurrection He will no longer be with them in bodily form. He will be with them in a different way, no longer physically but spiritually. In other words when the body of Jesus Christ is taken away from the earth the Holy Spirit will come in His place. He will be the Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of God, to be with and within every Christian believer. So the presence of Jesus will no longer be limited to just one place at any one time. No Jesus Christ can be with every Christian, past, present and future, and all over the world at the same time. He is no longer a physical presence in the form of a man here on earth. Jesus Christ is with us today as a spiritual presence as His Spirit lives with us and also in the lives of all who follow Him.
My Christian life came alive when I was 11 years old, over 70 years ago now, and at that time I was encouraged to invite Jesus into my heart. Those were the words that were used and I responded to them with life changing effects. But those words about Jesus in my heart did not make much sense till more than 10 years later. It was only a decade later that it was explained to me that having Jesus in my heart means that He lives in me by His Spirit. He is not a physical presence with His followers today; He is a spiritual presence.
I hope that many of you who listen this morning can find time in this week to read our Gospel reading once again. John Chapter 14 verses 14 -21. And if you can manage more than that, then read Chapters 14-16 in full because Jesus has much to say about what the Holy Spirit will do in and through the lives of Christian believers.
We haven’t possibly got time for all this this morning but in I do want to highlight just one way in which Jesus describes the Holy Spirit and what He will do for us. The word Jesus used is translated into English in several ways and the word we heard as David read to us is Counsellor. The Holy Spirit is our divine Counsellor. Other translations are Comforter, Advocate and Someone to Stand by us. All these translations convey something of what the Holy Spirit can be for us as we respond to Him. A good summary of them all is to say that the Holy Spirit is someone who comes to help us in times of trouble or need. That is just one aspect of what the Holy Spirit is wanting to do in our lives. It is what Jesus did when He was here on earth. It is what He continues to do now by His Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God – the terms are interchangeable. The Holy Spirit is the Counsellor, the Comforter given by God so that we may know the presence of God, the presence of Jesus Christ to help us in time of trouble or need. And also in happier times as well.
Now that does not mean that the Holy Spirit takes away all our troubles and difficulties. No what it does mean is that the Holy Spirit can give us inner strength to face them and with His help to keep going day by day.
We hear the words again and again as we come to church, or as we tune in to this Zoom service, “The Lord is here” says the Priest. “His Spirit is with us” is how we respond. And it is by God’s Spirit that we can know the presence of Jesus Christ today and not just in an individual way but in a corporate way. The Christian church is the fellowship, the community of the Holy Spirit. Which means that more and more we are to know the presence and help of God the Father and of His Son Jesus Christ. We will know more of His life and love and will share it with others as they share the same with us. Please God that will be increasingly true not only for those of us who share in this service this morning but also for all God’s people in every part of His world.
Canon Henry Whyte, Easter 6, 17 April 2020