Jesus spoke with solemnity to his disciples before his coming ordeal of the passion - his sufferings for us. Compacted in this speech were the events of his death, his ascension, and his giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It was going to be a dramatic and disturbing time for his friends and followers. In the initial stages of this series of occurrences the disciples would be bereft of comfort. Their beloved Master would undergo extreme humiliation, intense suffering, and a cruel death.
How could the Messiah they were beginning to trust be so hatefully and maliciously murdered?
Panic would grip their despairing hearts. Where could they find refuge in the ruin of their faith - all hope dashed, future life destroyed of meaning and mission?
Jesus is gently preparing them for an earthquake of the soul. He foresees their time of deep trouble and terror. There will be for them a phase of piercing, penetrating fear, of fundamental shock, that will utterly shake their world to pieces, but it will be of short duration. He provides fortification for their spirits in all that will follow the savage crisis they will endure.
Enormous promises will come to fruition after his severe trials - and theirs.
The disciples will not absorb these truths for the immediate present but they will receive them in joyful actuality in due course. The impressiveness of their Master will dawn upon them in fresh insights and experiences of his divine glory and generosity.
The world will have no appreciation of what is in store for the people of God. It will have no sense of what God is doing in, for, and through his people in the new sphere of existence to which he introduces those who know him.
In a spiritual sense the believer, whilst living and working for God in this world, lives on another planet, as it were, or, better still, heaven is his possession on earth. God has opened up another realm through the Spirit of truth.
Jesus, as the disciples knew him, would go away. But he has no intention to leave them or abandon them as confused and lonely orphans. His going to the Father is a change in his relationship to those whom he loves, a transfer, we might say, or “a promotion” for the God-man to a higher and universally effective office that will lead to an enrichment of the divine presence. Jesus goes away in order to come home to humble and believing hearts as his residence. The gift of the Holy Spirit is the gift of a permanent guest within, and a permanent guide without to accompany us (in the world to go beside and go before).
The Counsellor - the Spirit of God - will introduce us to the special and exalted society of God the Three in One. He will grant us what Christ has procured for us - life with God and in God forever. Jesus, the risen One says, “Because I live, you also will live” (v19).
From Jesus’ death and mighty resurrection we who trust and obey him gain eternal life in his company, in his home, the Father’s house with many rooms. He personally has prepared and secured our place. There will not be one missing lodger. That is the point of his going away. “I am going there to prepare a place for you (ch14 v2).
But he also says, “I am coming back to you (v28). Yes, that will surely be on the last allotted day of our life, and also the last day of this world’s existence. He will come to us at death to carry us home, and he will wind-up history on the Day of Judgment. It is imperative that we be ready for these returns.
But Jesus was also intimating that his coming back would even be sooner. Through the Spirit’s truth, love, power, and indwelling the glorious Three, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, will make their abode in us. As long as we abide on earth they will abide in us, that is, until we make the transition to the divine dwelling known as heaven.
This is the astounding, amazing, awesome teaching of Jesus who knows all things. “If anyone loves me he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him (v23). It will be “the life of God in the soul of man” as Henry Scougal describes it in the title of his book touching on the Christian’s union with the Divine. This is the essence and consummation of our salvation.
That is to be the climactic happening for we believers on earth. Mere earthworms have a royal destiny, a dignity and nobility that will rank them above angels. It all happens due to “our happy fault” as an ancient liturgy puts it with huge and daring poetic license.
God descends to us, enters us, and dwells in and with us. God’s home is where the believing heart is. It is immensely comforting. It is also something that disturbs us.
We are to manifest him as well as host him. That is truly a fact that is humbling and convicting, and it causes much heart-searching.
God in our poor, broken, and greatly flawed selves? But the Spirit is the power of our restored and renewed selves. We must keep close to our Comforter, Counsellor, and everyday Enabler. The closeness is there if we realize what Jesus is saying: “My Father and I will make our home with you through the Spirit - God in us. The tastes and tendencies of the Resident will radiate from the home - to some degree at least.
Our hearts, refashioned and refurbished by God, have replaced the earthly temple that symbolized and facilitated the presence of God to his people. There he often met them and displayed his glory and dispensed his grace. The temple as a limited and temporary means of grace for Israel until its Owner would both visit it in dramatic disapproval of its abuse, and remove it in his providence. Now it is gone. But the Lord has not gone. His temple is now established in his people. Each and all of them, as his elect ones, that make up his true church, are living stones that fit together as the edifice of the eternal habitation.
Paul is in accord with the view that the human heart is now the house of God on earth when he avers that the material temple has been superseded by the soul of man (1 Corinthians 6:19 - 20, against immorality, and his avowal is repeated in 2 Corinthians 6:16).
This intimacy with God, and the indwelling of God, are the abiding consequences of Pentecost in the lives of all the faithful. We are the folk of the Father, the companions of Christ, and the sanctified of the Spirit. The force of the indwelling Power causes us to be, in some measure, the living proclamation of his saving truth to a world that does not know him, nor by nature cares to know him, but must, for its own eternal welfare, come to know him.