Jesus, the Great Encourager (John 15 & 16)

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We are now 11 weeks into this quest we have been on – Pursuing Christ. It has been a journey of getting to know our Lord, Jesus in a deep an intimate way so that we can adore Him, love Him, honor Him, and become more like Him – which we learn in Romans is the whole reason we are even saved.
Romans 8
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
And indeed, God has been working many things for our good these past few months toward that goal, things I will be sharing with you next week in detail.
But for now, we find ourselves in the middle of the final moments teaching that Jesus is giving his disciples just before he will be arrested and ultimately executed. That teaching is covered in John 13 through 16, and we have so far covered 13 and 14. Today we will finish up that teaching by covering 15 & 16.
So, let’s pray and get into it.
Before we get into it, let me quickly remind you of our context. It is now Thursday night of passion week. Jesus rode into town on Monday as the triumphant king and announced that “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified!”
Now, a few days later, he has cleared out the temple again, sparred with the Pharisees, talked about the end of time, and predicted his own death.
And here at this meal, Jesus does several things.
  • Established the New Covenant and the ordinance of Communion
  • Gave an object lesson on love and service by washing the disciples’ feet
  • Announced that one of them would be betray him and sent Judas to do just that,
  • then he started talking to just the 11
  • He gave them the new command about loving one another as HE loves them
  • He also tells them he is leaving and they can’t follow
  • When Peter objects, Jesus predicts all will fall away and that Peter himself would deny even knowing Jesus that very night.
  • Then he spent some time encouraging them and explaining how the WHERE is is going is not a place, but a person – God the Father, and the WAY is not a path, but a person – Jesus Christ himself.
  • In other words, it’s all about a relationship, and then he started explaining how that relationship works – and specifically reiterating multiple times that our love for Him is to be shown in our obedience.
Chapter 14 ends with Jesus saying “come now let us leave” and so what follows is probably as they are walking to the Mount of Olives.
I’m going to read chapters 15 and 16 straight through because Jesus’ words really speak for themselves, then I’ll come back and point out a few things I believe are important for us at this time.
John 15
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’
26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

John 16
1 “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. 4 I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, 5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father,where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
16 Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”
17 At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18 They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”
19 Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? 20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
25 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”
29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”
31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. 32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Amen!
The words of Jesus in these few chapters are so beautiful and powerful. The true disciple of Jesus would do well to just read through them a few times slowly – soaking in every word and letting the Holy Spirit reveal their truth to your soul.
The words in these chapters are unlike his words elsewhere in the Gospels because here He is speaking only to his true disciples, the ones he would use to change the world. Many more than the 12 followed him around, but in this room was only the 12, or rather the 11 because the traitor was now gone. And so Jesus has just spoken freely and deeply to trusted followers.
And his words include teaching, promises, warnings, and encouragement. He’s preparing them for the difficult times they are about to endure – not just during the time of his death, but beyond, when they would be His instruments in launching His church. And the reason why these words are recorded by John at a time when all of the other disciples have died is because these words are not only for the 11. They are for us as well.
So, let’s talk about some of the things He said, as there are a few important themes you and I should take to heart.
One important theme I already covered last week about what a right relationship looks like between us and Christ. A relationship He illustrates and sums up beautifully in the picture of the vine and the branches (which I’ll let you discuss more in your Life Groups this week.) And then He spells it out again in no uncertain terms…
John 15
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
Notice that he tells us these things so that His joy may be in us and that our joy may be complete. He’s not calling us to a life of misery and burden, but a life of true freedom and joy.
The world and the Devil want you to believe that freedom is found in willing slavery to Sin. But in the real Kingdom, God’s Kingdom – true freedom, joy, and peace are only found in willing surrender to God. And Jesus came to tell us and show us just that.
There’s much more I could say on that topic, but time does not allow.
There are two other themes in these words that are connected to each other – really it’s all connected – but these two especially. Jesus gives his disciples both a warning and an encouragement about what life will be like once He is gone from the earth.
He warns them that following Him is going to be costly and come with great difficulty and persecutions – just like it did for Him. But He also encourages them with the promise of the Holy Spirit, who will be with them and in them as they endure these things.
Let’s look at the persecution warnings first. There are two, one in chapter 15 and the other in 16.

John 15
18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.
As followers and imitators of Christ we should expect the world to hate us, to misunderstand us, to revile us, and ridicule us. And isn’t this exactly what we see being played out in our news outlets? Christian morals and ethics are under severe attack from a world that wants to eliminate everything that reminds them of God – including the very image of God imprinted on us as human beings when He made us male and female.
Paul explains this in
Romans 8
7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
It’s not going to get better so long as the majority continue to reject Jesus – and they will. Jesus himself predicted that.
Matthew 7
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
It was true back then and it’s true today.
And so, we who are truly following and imitating Christ should heed Jesus’ warning and expect persecution. Though ours probably won’t be what He predicted the disciples would get.
John 16
1 “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. 4 I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, 5 but now I am going to him who sent me.
To be put out of the synagogue in the Jewish world of the time was basically to be exiled from the community completely. It was a greatly feared punishment. Jesus is warning them ahead of time that they will be exiled and even hunted and killed for staying true to Him.
And He says he is telling them this so that they WON’T fall away. Not a very good sales pitch, right?
The reason he said that is because these words are intended to encourage them in the future when all this happens. When life gets harder instead of easier, our natural inclination is to assume we are doing something wrong. And so, Jesus is encouraging His disciples that when life gets hard and these things happen because of your devotion to me, it means you are doing it right. So, don’t give up. Don’t fall away.
Sadly, many today have been buying into the prosperity gospel that promises a life of ease and blessing when you let Jesus save you. But that is not at all what Jesus promised. How many times did he talk about dying to self, taking up a cross, counting the cost, giving up everything, and so on? He even spells it out in one of the Beatitudes…
Matthew 5
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
And in the same way they persecuted Jesus himself.
If you expect following Jesus to be all roses and unicorns and that everyone will love you and be kind to you because you’re a Christian and you won’t have to make major changes and sacrifices in your life to obey Him and that God wants above all else for you to be happy and comfortable, then Jesus is saying – think again. If we are truly following Him, we should expect the same treatment He got.
Peter spoke of this later in his first letter.
1 Peter 4
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
There is a purpose in our suffering, just as there was purpose in Christ’s suffering. And not only does our pain have purpose,  the even better news is that we are not left to suffer on our own. God himself promises to literally live inside of us and give us the strength, perspective, and guidance to continue to persevere.
He does that as the mysterious Holy Spirit.
Let’s see what Jesus says about Him. He mentions Him all throughout this teaching, starting in chapter 14.
John 14
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
The Greek behind “advocate” is PARAKLETOS.
PARAKLETOS is a term the meaning of which cannot be exhausted by any one word. It literally means “one called alongside to help” and has the connotation of a helper, comforter, counselor, exhorter, intercessor, encourager, and advocate.
This is just one name for the Holy Spirit. Sounds like a good person to have around.
And here Jesus also introduces a concept that was at that time rather foreign.
He says the Holy Spirit presently lives WITH you, but later will actually be IN you.  It was understood in those days that the Spirit of God was with and among the people and would sometimes come upon a person in a mighty way like the stories of the Old Testament – but the idea that the Spirit of God would actually live inside of each individual human being…that was something new that his disciples really had not hope of understanding at this point, but they sure would in about 50 days on the day of Pentecost.
Jesus refers to Him again at the end of chapter 14..
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
This is how the Gospels were written. The Holy Spirit reminded the authors of everything Jesus said and did so they could teach it and write it down.
And do you know that He still does the same thing today? Not so that we can write more gospels, but so that we can remember the oh so important words of God that have been recorded and preserved for us and apply them to our lives in the moments when they are most needed.
But guess what the word “remind” implies…
You can’t be reminded of something you’ve never known before.
In other words, you cannot expect the Holy Spirit to just download God’s Word into your head Matrix style. You have to put it in there yourself by reading and listening to God’s written word on a regular basis. Then the Holy Spirit will have the raw material with which to remind you at appropriate times of what God says about things.
Many people like to have lists of scriptures that apply to specific situations – but how many of us actually pull out said checklist in the middle of the situation that warrants it? Nobody.
The way it really works is that you fill your mind with the words of God so that they are available to the Holy Spirit to bring to your attention in the moments and situations they are needed.
It’s just as Paul spelled out in
Romans 12
1Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
I actually find that I have conversations with the Holy Spirit in my head. It begins with a thought of my own or a question, and the Holy Spirit responds with a Scripture, and then I respond with another thought or question of my own, and the Holy Spirit responds with another Scripture…and so on until I finally get or accept His point and yield. Sometimes it’s as short as one or two back and forths – and other times it can last for hours or even days. It’s really quite amazing.
This kind of thing is not reserved for pastors. It’s a promise for anyone who will surrender their mind and body to the will of God as a living sacrifice and stop filling their head with junk and start filling it with God’s word.
It’s really quite simple and amazing!
And there’s more!
The Holy Spirit does far more than act as a reminders app.
John 15
26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.
In other words, the primary function of the Holy Spirit is to point us to Jesus. The Spirit is the active party in conforming us into the image of Christ. You will know that you are being led by the Spirit when you find that the leading always centers around Jesus. Knowing Him. Loving Him. Obeying Him. Sharing Him with others. It’s the whole reason we exist. The whole reason we are saved. Just as Jesus says in chapter 17 which I pointed out early in this quest –
John 17:3
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
Again, the Holy Spirit is not here to make your life happy and comfortable. He is here so that we can know Christ and become like Him. Which comes with so much more than temporary and superficial happiness and comfort. It comes with true love, unspeakable joy, peace that passes understanding, contentment in all circumstances, and so much more.
As Jesus says in chapter 16…
John 16
7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
The disciples couldn’t understand it at the moment, but it was for their benefit and ours that Jesus didn’t stay an earthbound human being forever. Because, even though He was God, Jesus took on our human limitations when He took on our flesh. And one major limitation is that we can only be in one place at a time, and we certainly can’t be inside another person much less multiple people at the same time. But the Spirit can.
Now, that’s just a little bit of what the Holy Spirit does for us, for believers and followers of Christ.
Next, Jesus talks about what the Holy Spirit does for the world that hates Him.
John 16
8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father,where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
Well, right there you can see why the world hates Him. What is the one thing you are not allowed to do in our current American society? Tell someone they are wrong. But that is exactly what the Holy Spirit is sent to do: convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment. Not surprisingly, the world’s three least favorite subjects.
And Jesus offers some brief explanations that need to be unpacked a bit.
He says, “about sin, because people do not believe in me;” – the “because” is what makes this confusing. The Greek is better translated as “about sin, in that people do not believe in me” – or as the NLT puts it “The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me.”
All other lesser sins are just symptoms of this ultimate sin – of rejecting the savior. The only way, truth, and life. The Holy Spirit does not shy away from pointing the world to Jesus as the only way to eternal life. And so the world hates him.
Next Jesus says, “about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer.” Jesus is righteousness himself and the only way you and I can have his righteousness is by believing in Him, and bowing to him as Lord. The statement that He is “going to the Father where we can’t come,” further points out that we cannot go to the Father without Him. Because only pure righteousness can be in the Father’s presence – something no human being has on their own accord. This shows the world to be wrong about the merit systems we try to invent where there’s this “good enough” spot that will earn us heaven. “No,” Jesus says, “only I can go there. If you want to come, you have to be one with me. There is no other way.” And so the world hates Him and His followers.
And finally, “about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”
There are some more words that will get you lynched by the tolerance police (oh the irony). Not only is the world guilty because of their rejection of Christ, and unable to earn our way to heaven, but we also stand condemned along with the ruler of this world – Satan.
In other words – the Holy Spirit speaks the truth. The real, absolute, unadulterated, and undiluted truth that the world run by the father of lies cannot stand to hear.
But the Spirit does not do these things just to get the world angry. He does this because conviction is the doorway to salvation.
God does not save people by wooing them with promises of prosperity. God saves people by showing them the truth of their desperate situation and offering himself as the only solution. Jesus himself went around preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sin.
Because there can be no salvation without repentance, and there cannot be repentance without conviction. In other words you have to actually believe and admit that you have been wrong and are guilty of sin before you can be forgiven of it. And so, the Holy Spirit opens the door by providing the conviction.
Jesus finishes his speaking of the Holy Spirit a few verses later.
John 16
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is not an “it”. He is God, just as Jesus and the Father are God. They are three in one – a mystery. And what a wonderful and incomprehensible gift we have been given that God would live inside of us.
And what a wonderful blessing Jesus has done here for his band of followers whose world was about to change dramatically. Giving them personal assurance that they would not be left to fend for themselves. That yes, times would be tough, and the world would turn against them. But that at the same time, God himself would live inside of them to guide them in truth and lead them on a journey that would change the course of history.
No doubt these words, as the Spirit brought them back to their minds in the coming days and years were a welcome comfort.
I suspect they will be for us as well.
Let’s pray.