Bearing the Weight of Truth
Text: John 15:26-16:4a
Many of you know this but I was a paratrooper in the Army in my younger days. I was with the historic 82nd Airborne Division. Something which I am very proud of. I enjoyed my time in the Army, and I loved being a paratrooper. The idea of being a paratrooper is that your transportation to the battle field is an airplane and parachute. The plane flies over and you jump out. When you hit the ground you are in the fight. You are in the conflict. You are in the warzone. So you don't have time to being assembling everything you might need for battle, you jump with those things. You jump with your tools for battle.
So you jump with your rifle and ammunition. You jump with all your gear that you may need for days in the event that you don't get resupplied. In other words, everything you need to conduct war is on you as you exit the plane. And you are in the fight the second you step off that jump platform.
Why do I bring this up? Well, our passage today is Jesus warning his disciples, and us, that we are heading into a warzone. We are heading into conflict. We will be hated, even killed. But he is not sending us into the battle without tools. In fact, he is giving us all that we need to faithfully conduct our mission in the midst of that battle. As we'll see in our text and sermon today: Jesus gives His Word and the Holy Spirit to believers to help us faithfully endure in this world.
Exegesis: John 15:26-16:4a
The context of our passage today stems from a continuation of the previous passage and the promise of persecution. Jesus promises them that the world will hate them because of their connection with him. They do this because they hate Jesus and hate the One who sent him, the Father.
26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. The Helper here is the Holy Spirit. Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the Helper, capital H. The Holy Spirit is a person, not a thing or a force. The Spirit will be sent by Jesus and from the Father. We see in this passage the Father, Son, and the Spirit all referenced as distinct persons, yet there is a oneness. The Spirit is sent by the Son and from the Father. They have one will. They love and delight in one another, no rivalry, no division.
Notice Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the Helper, and the Spirit of truth. Why is he called that? Because he bears witness about Christ. He's going to teach them. And Jesus calls the Holy Spirit a "he," again, because the Spirit is a person.
27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. The "you" in these first few words are the apostles particularly, but can be applied to all believers universally. He says they will bear witness just like the Holy Spirit will. The Spirit will bear witness about Christ (vs 26) and so will they. The reason is because they have been with him from the beginning of his ministry. He chose them out of the world for this purpose. This is crucial to grasp: one of the things that separates us from Jesus' disciples is that they receive a special apostolic calling. They were going to be used in the writing of Scripture and other elements of ministry that are not still active today. Here we see Jesus telling them of this coming role.
16 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. What are "all these things"? Promises of persecution. He's telling them about the persecution that's coming so as to keep them from falling away. It's to keep their faith strong when trials come against it.
Friends, this is huge. Jesus knows persecution and trials can wreak havoc on our faith. He knows it is tough because we don't like being in those high-pressure situations. We don't like when it gets uncomfortable or we lose friends or it cost us social status to be a Christian.
Example: John the Baptist story in prison (Luke 7:18-23)
Now, watch though what Jesus has said to them. It's truly beautiful. "I have said these things to you..." What things in particular has he said to them that would help them from falling away?
He has spoken promises to them about what they are going to do because of their calling. And he has promised to send the Spirit as a Helper to them. So what is he giving them so they don't fall away?
His Word + The Holy Spirit
He has given us both of these as well so that we endure through trials too.
2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.
Jesus promises them that "they will" put them out of the synagogues. It's going to happen. He's not going to stop it though. Why? He could stop it. Easily. Why doesn't he?
There could be a million reasons why he doesn't stop it. But what is interesting is that persecution has always been a catalyst for the church's growth. In the book of Acts, it is this promise fulfilled that spreads Christians around the world to evangelize and make disciples.
The time was coming soon for the apostles, and it may be coming soon for us, when the people who kill them think they are offering service to God. They are deceived into thinking they're honoring God by killing his servants. Interestingly, religious people can be guilty of this (Islam today, Jews against Christians in the first century), but so can irreligious people (Stalin, Mao Zedong). Even people who persecution Christians because they think we get in the way of the sexual revolution's advance, they think silencing and marginalizing Christians is for the common good.
They are deceived. How? Well, there is a Deceiver (so this is a spiritual battle). And the flesh and rebel nature is prone to deception.
3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.
Why will they do this? They don't know Father or Jesus. They don't know God. Father and me used synonymously is, once again, Jesus equating himself to God. And rightfully, he is. But this shatters the notion that he never claimed to be God.
4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.
Jesus is telling the disciples about these things so that when "their hour comes" he means the persecutors have their hour of prominence and power. They can remember. They can hide this word in their hearts and not be overwhelmed. Their master told them this was coming.
Remembering is a spiritual habit. The goal of remembering here is so that it builds hope, trust, and peace in their hearts. Remembering is supposed to remind them that Christ is sovereign. He told them these things would come. Remembering puts our eyes back on God and not on our circumstances.
**Abraham had to remember that God had made him a promise of offspring. It had been years since the LORD had spoke it to him. They still hadn't had a child, and he and Sarah were both very old. Yet he remembered what God said.
**Don't you know that Joseph and the people of Egypt had to do a lot of remembering about the promises of God when they were several years into a famine. It would be easy to let your mind wander and wonder if it would ever end. But they remembered what God said.
**David was promised as a young man that he was the next king. He was 15 years old, but endured 22 years of reproach from King Saul and countless brushes with death as a result before he actually became king. Don't you know that over those 22 years David had to do a lot of remembering unless he begin to despair or think he was crazy.
**The people of God waited for hundreds, even thousands of years for the coming of the Messiah. Promises throughout Scripture were given by God about the Christ's coming and salvation he would bring. But generation after generation passed, leading many to wonder if the Messiah would ever come. What do you do in the waiting? You remember. You remember what God said. And like every other example, God always fulfills His promises and Word.
The Messiah did come. The Savior of the world did arrive in a manager in Bethlehem, without fanfare or 24 hour cable news coverage. He came lowly and humble, yet as the king who would atone for sinners and establish his kingdom. Jesus is the promise of redemption to those who would put their faith in him. He is the fulfillment of the promise. He died and rose again just as he promised he would do.
What do we do in the waiting? How do we endure hardship, persecution, or trials? We remember.
I do a lot of remembering. It's no secret about what our family has endured with all my son Kaleb endured and then his passing. We've had to sharpen our spiritual discipline of remembering for years. We remember the promises of God's nearness to the brokenhearted, we remember that Jesus' grace is sufficient for us, we remember that our son is with Christ this moment and not in a suffering body, we remember that Jesus is coming again to make all things new and we will see our son again, we remember that the dead will be raised at the resurrection and the New Heavens and New Earth will be consummated forever, we remember that none of our tears or suffering, and none of the hardships our son endured were in vain because God is working all things for the good of those who love Him, He's sovereign.
We remember. Remembering breeds hope, trust, and peace in our hearts.
And remembering will do the same in yours. Whatever you face today. Whatever you're going through. Whatever your greatest needs are. Remember who God is and what Christ has done. Remember what is yours in Christ. Remember that your sins can be forgiven if you repent and believe. Remember that Christ can set you free from the power of addiction and enslavement to sin. Remember that you are here on purpose and God has a reason for your life.
In a world filled with difficulties, brokenness, and pain, the way we bear the weight of truth is we remember. We remember His Word and rely on His Spirit.