Lesson 109: Concerning the Holy Ghost/ The Parable of the Vine
A Blending, of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome to lesson # 109. And welcome again to our study. At the end of our last lesson, I appealed to YOU to read and re-read the later part of John ch. 14. I mentioned also, the break in context at the end of ch. 14. Did you notice in v.31, the words, "Arise, let us go hence", i.e. let us depart. For centuries there has been a controversy as to where Jesus spoke the words in John ch. 15-16-17. For example: Johnson in his commentary takes the stand that even though, Jesus said in effect; let's go, they in reality did not leave the upper room until the beginning of John ch. 18. David Lipscomb in his commentary indicates that they left the upper room at the end of John ch. 14 and the things said in ch. 15-16-17 were said on the way. McGarvey and Pendleton, don't exactly take a stand but lean toward Johnson's view that these words were spoken in the upper room. So, let me tell you simply, Idon't know. And, it really makes no difference; in that what Jesus said is still just as meaningful and authoritative where ever it was said. Thus, I encourage you to develop your own mental picture of what happened and where it happened. But, for our discussion; I'm going to assume ch. 15-16-17 took place in the upper room.
But, before we move on to the chapters that follow, I would like for us to review that which is said in the last part of John ch. 14, with reference to the Holy Ghost. First of all, you should latch on to the fact that where the KJV uses the word "Holy Ghost", several other translations use the word "Holy Spirit." So, although we are reading from the KJV, I will use the words interchangeably in our discussion, there is no other distinction. As a matter of fact there are several OTHER WORDS in our text, that are also used interchangeably with these words. Let's look at a few of them. In John 14:26, Jesus said/ "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost." Thus, Jesus, himself, uses the word Comforter [with a capital "C"] and the word Holy Ghost as synonymous and interchangeably. In v.16 and 17, Jesus used the word "Comforter" and the words "Spirit of truth" as synonymous. But, more commonly, Jesus simply used the pronoun "he" to refer to this personality of the Godhead. Now, what are we talking about? Let's review! On that sad and somber occasion in the upper room, after Judas left; Jesus told the apostles he was leaving. Peter wanted to know where Jesus was going. Thomas was concerned about knowing the way. And Philip wanted to see the Father. It was a frightening experience. They realized they were going to be separated from Jesus. They had been with Jesus almost 24 hours a day for the last two or three years. They had developed explicit confidence in Jesus. They knew he could calm a storm and feed thousands. However, it's obvious, that they were not clear on how the development, then underway, would come out. First of all, there was the Jewish view that the messiah would be a great earthly king, like David or Solomon. Jesus had repeatedly used their concept of a kingdom to explain and illustrate the coming age and the new covenant that Jesus came to establish. They understood that Jesus was going to leave them. Jesus had said it very plainly, back in John 13:33 and other places. Yet, they also understood this was a temporary departure in some sense. Because Jesus said, they couldn't come now; but, eventually they could come to where Jesus was (John 13:36). Also, Jesus said he would .manifest himself to them again, "I will come to you." (John 14:18). Then in the next verse (v.19), Jesus said, "Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more..." In v.22, another of the apostles, named Judas which is called Lebbeus Thaddeus back in Matt. 10:3; asked Jesus, "how is it thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?" A very good question, i.e. an expressive inquiry. It gives us insight into the thinking of the disciples. But, did you notice, Jesus DID NOT answer that question. He simply did not get into the logistics of the question as Judas Lebbeus Thaddeus wanted. Jesus simply said in response to that question, "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him/ and make our abode with him." Thus, Jesus verified that Judas Lebbeus Thaddeus heard Jesus correctly; yet, Jesus did not go into the details. So far as I know, there had NEVER been a purely spiritual kingdom before the church was establish in Jerusalem; a little over seven weeks AFTER that Thursday night in the upper room, that we're talking about. So, let me ask you: how do you explain a spiritual kingdom to people who have never known anything but a physical kingdom? Do you see the problem? Jesus had spent months and months with them and had repeated over and over, "The kingdom of heaven is likened to..." He had in parable after parable compared it to a sower, a mustard seed, a net, a treasure in a field, a householder, leaven, and on and on. If they had not comprehended it in three years; they sure were not going to digest it in five minutes. So, Jesus simply didn't get into it. Now, he did give them another parable, John ch. 15, which we haven't covered yet. And, after that parable, Jesus commented some more about the Holy Spirit and the things that the apostles were asking. But, right now-, let's stick to v.15-31 in John ch. 14. Have you got your eye on it? How many times have you read it?
Now, the thing that I want you to see in this chapter, (John 14), is the part about the Holy Ghost. Get your eyes on v.16! Jesus said, "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you ANOTHER Comforter..." Now, I want you to look at that word, "another", another Comforter. That implies they had already received one Comforter, doesn't it? Alright, what was the first Comforter? O.K., that was Jesus, the Christ/ the messiah, the Son of God, the Word (John 1:1). But, that first Comforter, called Jesus, was going to leave them. But, Jesus said, God "shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever..." Now, are you getting the picture? Did you notice that Jesus said, "HE may abide with you...?", i.e. in some sense, another personality was going to take the place of Jesus or assist Jesus to accomplish those things that the apostles were worried about. Now, notice in the beginning of v.17, that personality, "HE" is also called "the Spirit of truth." You see, these words: the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, are not formal names of that personality. They were and are descriptive names to help us understand that personality. Now, would you like to know some more about this Spirit, personality? O.K. look at the next phrase: "whom the world cannot receive." That personality would come to the apostles, but not to the world in general. Why? "because it seeth him not", i.e. the world cannot see this personality. Do you see that? (v.17)? "neither knoweth him." There's some very revealing information here. Let's continue! "But ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and SHALL BE in you." OH! Boy! Can't you just see 22 eyeballs focused on Jesus, in the dim glow of that little olive oil lamp? Startling information! Then look at v.18, I WON'T LEAVE YOU COMFORTLESS! I'LL COME TO YOU!, i.e. through this personality THEY would have access to Jesus. But, v.19, the world will see Jesus no more. However, through the access of that personality (Jesus had just described); THEY would SEE Jesus (v.19). Alright, v.20, get both eyeballs on it! "At that day!" What day? The day that this personality called the Comforter and the Holy Ghost would come to and abide with (and in) the apostles. O.K., now, what would happen on "THAT DAY?" Jesus said, "Ye shall KNOW that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and Iin you." They would KNOW that! And that happened, seven weeks later, just in case you're interested. But, you'll have to read beyond the four gospels to find that.
Now, what else do we learn about the Holy Ghost in these verses? V.21 down thru v.25 includes Judas Lebbeus Thaddeus' question and the rest of that is pretty much repeat material. It has been said before. But, focus in on v.26, Jesus said the Comforter, also called the Holy Ghost, would be sent by the Father in the name of Jesus, i.e. by the authority of Jesus. So, this personality is not going to replace Jesus, HE will be Jesus' helper. And, that personality is going to do something to the apostles, right in the middle of v.26, "he shall teach you [i.e. the apostles] all things." Can you imagine that? These men were having trouble comprehending the present development that night in the upper room. But, when that personality came to them and in them, they would have no lack of information. AND, that was not all! "he shall bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." Not only would that personality teach the apostles new information; through that personality, they would have PERFECT RECALL of all that Jesus had taught them over the past three years. Can you see why Jesus called that personality the Comforter? That must have been a very comforting thought to the apostles.
I don't know if you're aware of this or not; but, did you know we haven't read a single new thing during th is lesson ? We wouldn’t want to break our record, so Lets read. We're going to read at the beginning of ch. 15. There's a lot more that could be said about ch. 14; but, you see, I trust ye. I'll leave the rest of it to you. Be sure and glean it good. Beginning in v.1, of John ch. 15, let's read down to v.17. Now, we have already said this may or may not have taken place in the upper room. Keep the broad setting in mind as we read. It had only been a few minute since Jesus washed the disciples feet and Judas had left. It had been only a few minutes since Jesus had instituted the Lord's Supper, in which Jesus said the fruit of the vine represented his blood. Are you ready, let's read. "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which Ihave spoken unto you. Abide in me, and Iin you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ' ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another."
O.K. the parable of the true vine. NOT just any vine; but, the true vine. Jesus said, "I am the true vine." The heavenly Father is the farmer. Try to sketch a grape vine on a piece of scrap paper, there. The roots are below the surface of the soil and you can't see where the vine come from. Part of Jesus' activity was behind the scenes of this life. From the soil projects a trunk or stem that looks like a heavy rope, a few feet long. Then that vine sprangles or branches into several smaller stems here called branches. The fruit does not grown on the main stem but on the branches where they hook on to the vine. Have you got it sketched? Jesus said, "I am the true vine"; so, label the main trunk "Jesus." The branches are the apostles. In v.5, Jesus said, "ye [i.e. the apostles] are the branches." Now, connect this to the Lord's Supper. Jesus said the grape juice was his blood (Matt. 26:28). Yet he told THE DISCIPLES to drink that fruit of the vine. The branch cannot bear fruit of itself, v.4. You see, spiritual life comes through Jesus and through the apostles. Jesus said, "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." The word that Jesus spoke is what cleans us, i.e. cleanseth the soul. But, this is accomplished through the Word, which requires us to hear, believe, repent, confess and be baptized into Christ, i.e. obey. Then spiritual life is extended into the soul like life is extended into a vine. The branch must abide in the vine. To mature, the fruit must abide in the branch. If these do not abide or live in Jesus; they are destroyed. The Farmer, i.e. the heavenly Father has them gathered and burned. Those apostles were familiar with that purging process in a grape orchard. This casting forth and burning is another way of saying "everlasting punishment", that Jesus talked about back in Matt. 25:46. Then look at v.8, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." You see, to be a disciple; one must abide in the vine. When branches become disconnected they die. But, that's not what the Farmer, the heavenly Father in this parable, wants. He wants every branch to bear fruit. And this is what pleases and glorifies the Heavenly Father. You will remember that John the Baptist told the Pharisees and Sadducees in Matt. 3:8, "Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance", i.e. your actions must be consistent with your claim to repentance. The word "fruits" is used here to mean desirable good works. The seed is in the fruit, you see. Jesus said in the parable of the sower, Luke 8:11 "the seed is the world of God." So, it is associated with the fruit and the seed in particular, that more converts are made. Other places in the N.T. fruit is used to mean converts to Christ, i.e. more disciples. In Rom. 1:13, Paul told the Romans, "oftentimes I purposed to come unto you..." Why Paul? "that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles." You see, Paul was calling converts to Christ "fruit." Now, how does one abide in Christ's love? Look at v.10, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love." So, in this parable, to abide in the vine is simply to keep Jesus' commandments. Jesus reminded them in v.12, "love one another, as I have loved you", that new "agape" commandment. Then in v. 15, Jesus said he was not going to call the apostles servants anymore; for a servant has no part in management, you see. The servant doesn't know and understand what his lord doeth (v.15). But, the apostles were to have a part in the management, i.e. they would be given the keys to the kingdom and would loose and bind the things of the kingdom and have a management part in it. Jesus had chosen the apostles, v.16, "that ye should go and bring forth fruit..." This alludes to the great commission which we haven't covered yet. Until our next lesson, have a good day.