John 14:9-10 NLT – Jesus replied, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me.”
God is revealed through Jesus.
If we want to know God, then we need to get to know Jesus. And thankfully there are four entire books of the Bible dedicated to the life of Jesus. We call them the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Through this series, we are working through the book of John and observing the way of Jesus. What we’re finding out is that the way of Jesus is different.
So, when you follow Jesus, people are going to think that you are different. But hey, we’re all different together.
Last week we found out that all human control is ungodly. It’s ungodly to try to control someone else. It’s ungodly to try to control your own life. Instead, we should give God full control.
What’s interesting about this is that God can’t have control unless you give it to Him. Some people think that God is in control regardless. And although He definitely could, that’s not how He chose to do it.
He gave us free will. So, you can be in control of your life or you can invite God to have control over your life. But you can’t have it both ways.
And when it comes to controlling others, that’s just the devil’s playbook. It could even be categorized as witchcraft. We’re talking about slavery. We’re talking about forcing people to wear masks or get a vaccine.
Anytime we try to control others, we are stepping outside of God’s will and helping Satan. I sure hope you haven’t bought into the hype of thinking that controlling others is going to somehow help our nation. It’s a bunch of BS.
Control & Money
One of the specifics we learned last week is that we should never try to control someone else’s money. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to think things like, “I can’t believe they bought that car. They should have given that money to the poor.”
Because the truth is, when you fuss about how someone else is spending their money, you are revealing greed in your own heart. Only greedy people care how other people spend their money.
Think about it. How many generous people do you know who are complaining about how other people spend their money? They’re not! They don’t have time for that. Instead, they are trying to figure out more ways to be generous.
I know this isn’t a fun truth. But if you grab ahold of it, it will set you free from the bondage of money. How other people spend money is none of your business. Instead, you should be asking yourself, “Am I generous?”
Alright, you’ve probably had enough of that. So let’s move on.
Jesus’ Last Words
We are now towards the end of chapter 12 in the book of John. Jesus is wrapping things up. He is about to be arrested and killed. But He has some things to say first. And we should really perk up and listen because these are His last words before He goes to the cross.
He addresses two different groups of people. First, He talks to those who don’t yet believe in Him. And then He talks to His disciples.
Jesus’ Last Words to Unbelievers
Let’s start with the first group. What are Jesus’ last words to those who don’t yet believe in Him?
John 12:44-46 NKJV – Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me.
So, in this last message to those who don’t yet believe in Jesus, He is once again confirming that He and God are one.
The reason He has to do this is because these people likely believed in God, but they were still having doubts about Jesus. Here’s what He says next:
John 12:44-48 NKJV – I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.
Once again, He is solidifying what He has been teaching all along. When you believe in Jesus, you follow Jesus. It does no good to say you believe in Jesus if you are going to continue to live in darkness. That doesn’t even make sense.
For clarity, you are not saved by your good behavior. Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse you from all the wrong you’ve done. You receive this by faith by believing in Jesus.
But, when you believe in Jesus, you follow Jesus. When you believe in Jesus, you no longer live in darkness. You walk in the light as He is in the light.
Jesus then goes on to say something that people like to pull out of context:
John 12:44-48 NKJV – And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.
It sounds like we’re off the hook, right? Jesus didn’t come to judge us but to save us. And that’s true! The crazy thing is, people so badly want to continue living in sin that they relish in this one scripture and don’t even read the next verse:
John 12:44-48 NKJV – He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him— the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.
Oh… apparently judgement is still a thing. If you reject Jesus, you will be judged by what Jesus has said. And He has said some pretty tough things.
But why does He say these things? Why does He say, “Whoever believes in me shall not abide in darkness?” Here’s why:
John 12:49-50 NLT – I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.
Everything that Jesus says is from God. And everything that God tells Him to say leads to eternal life. So when Jesus tells unbelievers not to abide in darkness, it’s because it is going to lead them to eternal life.
Remember, this is His last chance before He dies to lead them to salvation, and He does it by making three points. This is the salvation message according to Jesus:
- God and Jesus are one.
- When you believe in Jesus, you follow Jesus.
- Judgement is coming for those who reject Jesus.
This is our example of a salvation message. If you want to lead people to Jesus, these are the three things you must talk about.
It can’t be all sunshine and rainbows. Jesus never made people feel good about their sin. He saved them from their sin. He set them free so they no longer have to walk in darkness.
Last Words to the Disciples
Now that Jesus is finished with His final words to those who don’t yet believe in Him, He shifts His focus and talks to His disciples. And He has quite a bit more to say to them.
If you consider yourself a follower of Jesus, these are His last words to you. This is Jesus putting a wrap on everything He taught us. It all comes down to this.
And how does He start this most important meeting with the disciples? Probably not how you would expect. He fills up a water basin, wraps a towel around His waist, and washes the disciples feet.
Why? Why does He do this?
John 13:14-15 NKJV – If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.
You got to love how Jesus starts this thing off by addressing something we all struggle with. We want people to serve us. We want to be in charge. We want people to honor us because of our education and accomplishments. We want to be important.
In other words, we are consumed with elevating ourselves. And Jesus just put a hard stop on all of it. Jesus humbled Himself to serve us and we are to follow His example. In other words:
To follow Jesus, I must humble myself and serve others.
You know, Jesus even washed Judas’ feet. This is the disciple who was about to betray Jesus, and Jesus knew it, yet He washed his feet anyways.
If we are going to follow Jesus, we don’t just serve those who deserve it. We also serve those who don’t deserve it, with the same joyful attitude.
After the foot washing, Jesus gives the disciples a new commandment. And really, it just solidifies what He just taught them through example.
John 13:34-35 NKJV – A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
How do we love each other? By serving each other, just like Jesus just did.
He goes on to say:
John 13:34-35 NKJV – By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
Let’s take a moment to let the details in this scripture sink in. Jesus is talking to the disciples here. He didn’t tell them to love everyone. He told them to love one another.
I’ve been a part of the church my whole life. I grew up in the church and now I have been in church leadership for over 13 years.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched church people fuss at other church people because they didn’t care enough about missions, or they didn’t care enough about the lost. And on and on it goes.
Christians love to gripe at other Christians. Yet, here Jesus is telling us that if we do a good job loving each other, all will know that we belong to Jesus.
This tells me that the opposite is also true: If we suck at loving each other, nobody will know that we belong to Jesus. And if nobody knows, how in the world do we expect our programs and outreaches to lead people to Jesus?
Why are we fussing at each other? We’re here on the same mission to do this together. Are we going to agree on everything? No! But instead of fussing at other followers of Jesus that you don’t agree with, how about you go serve them like Jesus just did by washing Judas’ feet?
That’s what Jesus is asking us to do. Even when you don’t agree, even when you don’t like how they act or how they smell or whatever, love each other. Humble yourself and serve your brothers and sisters in Christ.
And don’t let this truth sneak by you. Jesus is more concerned with how we treat each other than how we treat the rest of the world. Because when we love each other, all will know about Jesus. Let me put it to you this way:
To follow Jesus, I must love and serve His church.
Have you ever heard someone say, “I don’t need to be part of a church. I can have church by myself at home”?
I get why they are saying this. They are probably fed up with American Christianity. But the answer isn’t to abandon the people of God. The answer is to love and serve God’s church, as imperfect as it is.
Next, Jesus has to clarify something for the disciples that He’s already said many times. He even just said it to the group of unbelievers we were talking about earlier. Even so, the disciples were still having a hard time understanding that Jesus and God are one.
When you see Jesus, you see God. When you get to know Jesus, you get to know God. Nevertheless, Philip once again asked Jesus to show them the Father and here’s how Jesus responds:
John 14:9 NKJV – Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Come on. Get it through your thick skull! Jesus is in the Father. The Father is in Jesus. Jesus and the Father are one.
Jesus did not speak on His own authority, He spoke what the Father told Him to speak. Jesus didn’t work miracles on His own, it was the Father dwelling in Him who did the works.
Why is Jesus so intent on us understanding this? Here’s why:
John 14:12 NKJV – Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
Jesus wants you to understand that it was God working through Him to perform miracles. This shows you that you can do what He did. And not only that, but now you can do greater things than He did.
But you can only do these things when you realize that it was the Father doing these things through Jesus. It wasn’t because He was super-human. It’s because He fully submitted Himself to the Father.
It was God’s power working through Jesus. Just like it can be God’s power working through you. But you have to give God full control.
You can’t do this in your own power, just like Jesus didn’t do this in His own power. He worked miracles and spoke mind-boggling truth simply because He submitted Himself to God. And Jesus wants you to do the same.
That’s why Jesus says this next:
John 14:14 NKJV – If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
Anything! Once you fully submit yourself to God, you can ask anything in the name of Jesus and He will do it! I wonder if any of us will ever be bold enough to truly believe this scripture. I hope we get there.
How about we start by getting our minds around this:
To follow Jesus, I must do greater works than Jesus.
This sounds strange to say, but it’s exactly what Jesus wants us to do. It’s not that we are greater than Jesus. Yet, we have the same power working on the inside of all of us, and together, we can do greater miracles than Jesus did.
Next, Jesus goes on to explain how this is possible. You don’t get here by accident. There’s two things you have to do first. Number one, obey God by keeping His commandments. Number two, receive the Holy Spirit.
Let me show you what I mean:
John 14:15-16 NKJV – If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth.
For clarity, He says the same thing again in different words a few verses down:
John 14:21 NKJV – He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.
Now you know, obeying God is a prerequisite for seeing the power of God manifest here in this physical world.
All of a sudden it makes total sense why we haven’t been seeing many miracles in the American church for decades now. Obedience to God is not a hot topic in church these days, to say the least.
In case you are still not getting it, He says it a third time just a few verses after that:
John 14:23 NKJV – If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
Is obedience important? If you want God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit to come make their home with you, then yes – obedience is actually required.
If you want the Holy Spirit working in your life, obedience to God’s Word is required. If you want the power of God to manifest in your life, just like it did through Jesus, obedience to God’s Word is required.
The American church has settled for grace without obedience. When we chose to tolerate sin in the name of grace, we dismissed the power of God. In other words, the power of God cannot exist alongside disobedience.
Let me put it to you this way:
Grace without obedience invites human weakness.
Obedience because of grace invites the power of God.
In the next chapter of John, Jesus keeps driving this truth home with a parable. Take a look:
John 15:5-7 NLT – Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!
Jesus wants to make sure we get this, that we are useless without obedience to His Word. So, He says it again by tying love and obedience together:
John 15:9-10 NLT – I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
The more I study the Bible, the more it blows my mind that the church ever fell for the false teaching of sloppy grace – that we can somehow say we believe in Jesus and yet live in darkness without consequence.
Apparently Jesus knew we would fall for it because in His last words to us before He went to the cross, He clarified it over and over and over again.
Grace without obedience invites human weakness.
Obedience because of grace invites the power of God.
After working so hard to get this across to the disciples, Jesus gives them some good news:
John 15:11 NLT – I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!
A life of obedience to God is not a boring life. It’s a life full of joy – so much joy that it’s overflowing!
It’s a good thing too, because we need an overdose of joy to handle what Jesus tells us next:
John 15:19 NLT – I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.
Good thing obedience brings great joy into our lives because we now know that our joy isn’t coming from the world. They’ll hate us for being obedient to the Word of God. Anybody found this to be true lately?
Wait a minute… I thought we were supposed to try to get the world to like us so they would come to our church? But here Jesus is telling us they will hate us when we do what He told us to do.
Well, it gets even worse…
John 16:2 NLT – For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God.
Not only will the world hate us, but religious people will hate us too. And you know, this really isn’t uplifting news. So why is Jesus telling us this stuff?
John 16:1 NLT – I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith.
Persecution isn’t fun. And it can make you think that you are doing something wrong. Especially when you grew up with American Christianity where you’re supposedly doing something wrong if you are making people upset.
But the truth is, when you follow Jesus, the world is going to hate you. Religious people are going to hate you. And that’s why Jesus gave us the commandment to love each other. We need each other.
That’s also why we need the Holy Spirit. He is our helper. He leads us into all truth. He gives us peace in the midst of all the hatred.
The Role of the Holy Spirit
Here’s how Jesus explains the role of the Holy Spirit:
John 16:8-11 NKJV – And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
Wow. That’s something. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone teach on the Holy Spirit’s assignment to convict people of sin, righteousness and judgement. I thought He was here to give us all the feel goods?
All kidding aside, this is really beautiful. If there was nothing to convict us of sin, we would never come to Jesus.
Jesus knew this statement would be a bit shocking, so He went on to explain:
John 16:8-11 NKJV – of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
When you don’t believe in Jesus, you run the risk of living in sin without even knowing you need a savior. That’s why the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and leads us into righteousness so we can walk free and clear on judgement day through the blood of Jesus Christ.
That’s just one of many things the Holy Spirit gives us. Here’s another:
John 16:13 NKJV – However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
If you want truth, it is only found in the Holy Spirit. You won’t find it on ABC news. You won’t find it online. You find it in any person, no matter how popular or expert they are.
The Holy Spirit is the only One that leads you into all truth. And we can trust that the Holy Spirit will only give us truth, because He only speaks what He hears from God.
You know, there’s a thread throughout this entire message today: oneness.
- God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one.
- We are invited to be one with Jesus.
- We are commanded to be one with each other.
So Jesus told us to be united with Him and with each other. Yet somehow the American church got sidetracked trying to maintain unity with the world.
The cost? When we pursue unity with the world, it destroys unity with God and with each other. It’s no wonder the American church is so divided right now. It’s been years in the making.
Do we hate the world? Absolutely not. They might hate us, but we don’t hate them. Why?
John 3:16 NKJV – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Because we love the world, we take the true gospel to the world. We do this by following the example of Jesus and telling them three things:
- God and Jesus are one. You can’t know God without Jesus.
- When you believe in Jesus, you follow Jesus.
- Judgement is coming for those who reject Jesus.
So I invite you today to believe in Jesus. When you do, you are forgiven of all your sin. And not only that, but you are freed from the power of sin so you no longer have to live in bondage.
You also become a part of our family – a group of believers who love each other by serving each other. Not one is more important than the other. We are all on the same team. We are all one in Christ Jesus.