It is now April, and four months into the year I’m still studying the theme of the vine and branches from John 15. I’m excited to share with you the topic of the Holy Spirit in this blog series called Life on the vine.
Jesus said to his disciples in John 14:18 before he ascended to Heaven after his resurrection:
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
The disciples spent 3 years following Jesus, and they had fallen in love with Him. Their hearts were moved by His passion, faith, miracles, love, connection with God and His mission to save souls. The disciple’s hearts were ripped apart as they looked up and watched Jesus bleeding and gasping for air on the cross. Then during those next few days when the entrance of the tomb was securely in place, the separation they felt from their beloved Jesus and the defeat of his death wreaked havoc on their faith. Three days later, when the stone was rolled away, Jesus came to them and His words stirred passion in their hearts all over again. Their Lord was back!!! But now He must leave them again and go to the Father.
Have you ever been separated from someone you deeply love? I had to say goodbye to my mother on February 10, 2018, the day she passed away from dementia. She was a constant presence in my life. I could call her at any time, and she would be on the phone with me for hours if that is what I needed. During her last year when she was in a nursing home in Florida, and I was in Oregon, my brother would Facetime call me twice a week from her room. Though she lost the ability to speak because of the dementia, her facial expressions spoke the language of love to me. The last time we Facetimed with her before her death she whispered, “I love you.”
Now that both my parents have passed, I feel like an orphan. But does that mean my Father and Mother are not with me? No! The legacy they left me will endure forever in my heart and has been passed on to my daughter.
Jesus had a plan for how his disciples would remain deeply connected to Him while He was back in heaven and they were on earth.
His plan was gifting them with the Holy Spirit.
In John 14:25-27 Jesus explained to his disciples how He will still be with them while he is in heaven:
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. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Think about how you feel when someone you dearly love and depend on passes away. Your mind feels anything but peace. Fear floods your heart and you wonder, “How am I going to make it without this person?” Jesus knew his disciples would feel this way, and He reassures them that the Holy Spirit will not leave them desolate, afraid and anxious.
Even though Jesus would no longer be physically present in His disciple’s lives, the Holy Spirit was given to them so that they could continue to be taught, reminded of His teachings and guided by Him.
The Holy Spirit is as active a teacher as Jesus was in physical form.
The Holy Spirit is a significant relationship we have in our lives who mentors, advocates, encourages, convicts of sin, reminds and comforts us through the words we read in the Bible. Relationships involve commitment and nurturing. The Holy Spirit works powerfully in the life of anyone who engages in this relationship.
Jesus tells his disciples in John 14:19-21:
19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
Do you feel like an orphan in this world? Jesus has a plan for you to be deeply connected to Him, to your Father in heaven and to the family of believers through the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that threads our hearts together. It is the Holy Spirit that speaks the language of love to our hearts.
So now when I hear these words from Jesus,
“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”
I understand that the Holy Spirit is the thread that connects me to Jesus like the branch is connected to the vine, and through this connection I have a companion to comfort me through the heartache, guide me through the difficult decisions that need to be made, fill me with reassurance when I’m feeling insecure and give me hope when I’m discouraged.