Jesus is preparing his disciples for his departure. The world has largely rejected his revelation of the Father and his Word. As a result, the hatred of the world for Christ will lead them to crucify him. Before He is arrested, Jesus shares with his disciples that as they bear witness to him and bear his Name, the world will also hate them. Persecution is coming. The disciples will be hated for Christ's sake. Jesus shares this prophetic word with his disciples so that they will not fall away when the persecution comes. But rather remember Jesus has told them what is to come and have their faith in him strengthened, not weakened through persecution. And as we reflect over the course of church history, we realize this prophetic word from Jesus was true not just for the Apostles, but for the church at large.
As Jesus continues to instruct his disciples in the upper room, He uses the metaphor of a vine and its branches to illustrate the kind of close-knit, intimate relationship He is pursuing with his disciples and us. There is the clear implication by way of the metaphor that we would be drawing spiritual life from this True vine that is Jesus. Jesus instructs his disciples to abide in him. Abiding is the continuing of a daily, personal relationship with Jesus, characterized by trust, prayer, obedience and joy. And as we abide, our lives will be spiritually fruitful.
Just hours before Jesus is betrayed and crucified, He encourages his disciples with the promise of his continuing presence with them by and through his Spirit. Jesus makes the important point that after He goes away, the Holy Spirit will come and be with his followers. They will not be left without His presence. The Helper, the Holy Spirit will come and minister to them and lead them in truth. Over the course of the this conversation in the upper room, John records for us the most concentrated teaching in the New Testament regarding the Holy Spirit. This week we examine both the person and the ministry (works) of the Holy Spirit.
As summer winds down, we resume specific rhythms in our church's life, one of which is gathering together in Community Groups. This week, we remind ourselves of how God is calling us to live with and relate to one another. God's plan and design for every believer is be a part of the family of God, the church. His purposes and plans for his people are beautiful and for our good. God is calling us to warmth and affection for one another and for our relationships to be growing in devotion and love.