"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, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you" (John 14:15-18).
With these simple words, Jesus introduces the primary difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. God had always been working in the world. The Holy Spirit was present from the very beginning of creation, and throughout the entire Old Testament we see evidence of His working. To those who had eyes to see and a heart for God He was not hidden, and evidences of His presence were very real. But the end of the Old Covenant came, and in John 14-16, after the last supper with His disciples before His death, Jesus introduces the New Covenant. What was the essential element of the New? It was that God would now take up residence in His temple--a temple not made by hands.
How was this to take place? What was lacking in the Old that would be fulfilled in the New? The disciples at this point were becoming fearful, for Jesus said, "Let not your heart be troubled." Why were they fearful? For as long as Jesus had been with them, He was their solution to everything. When the Pharisees came against them, they only had to put the matter in the hands of Jesus and He took care of it every time. If the crowds had no food, they turned to Jesus. If the storm was about to overturn their boat, they called on Jesus. Yet with all of this wonderful history, Jesus makes this statement: "But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, 'Where are You going?' But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you" (John 16:5-7).
How could it possibly be to their advantage that Jesus would go away? They could not comprehend that. Jesus explained it to them like this: "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 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. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you" (John 16:12-15).
Jesus was in effect saying, "Your ability to comprehend the things of God at this point is very limited. I know you do not understand, but you will understand in the near future. When the Holy Spirit comes everything will be better than it is now. Trust Me--believe that I know what I am doing." "Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, 'Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, "A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me"? Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you'" (John 16:19-22).
What needed to happen before these promises of Jesus could be fulfilled? Jesus had to go to the cross. The price of sin had to be paid. Jesus needed to rise from the dead and ascend to the Father. Then He would receive the Gift of Promise from the Father and pour out the Holy Spirit for all men. When the Holy Spirit came, He would bring God to abide within the believer and be with us always in intimate fellowship. All of these things are familiar to most of us, but the disciples did not yet understand them. Personally, I think this is the primary meaning of this statement: "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:1-3). Jesus was going to the cross to prepare a place in God for us. We could not enter into the holy of holies until that price was paid. The blood of bulls and goats was not sufficient. We know that when Jesus died, the curtain that kept men out of the holy place was torn from top to bottom. This indicated that God no longer dwelt there, and the way was now open for all to enter into fellowship with God in an intimate way. That way was Jesus. "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me'" (John 14:6).
So how does Jesus do this? How does He bring us into the fellowship of God? We have already quoted John 14:15-18 but let us continue. "A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 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" (John 14:19-21). Jesus says that we will live because He lives. Of course He was alive at that point, but He was about to go through death for us. If He did not come out of the grave, we could not live. But He arose! "Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father" (John 10:17-18).
At Calvary Jesus revealed who He was. He laid down His life for us and then took it again. This was God's plan. It was not an accident. At Calvary Jesus displayed for the whole world to see that He is God: triumphant over any power that could come against Him. But He did not do this just so we could see and marvel, but so that we could enter into this same life. "Then Jesus answered and said to them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will'" (John 5:19-21).
Jesus went through Calvary so that He could give us life: not separate from Him, but His very own life. This is the only way we can enter into the fellowship of God. He is the life, He is the way to life and He gives us life. "Then Jesus said to them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.' Then they said to Him, 'Lord, give us this bread always.' And Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst'" (John 6:32-35). How does Jesus give us life? "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63).
We are told very clearly by Peter on the day of Pentecost what happened. "This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear" (Acts 2:32-33). Under the Old Covenant, the Holy Spirit had come upon a man (usually a prophet) for brief times, but on that day for the first time in the history of the world, God Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit came to indwell men. The Holy Spirit (God) moved from "with" to "in," and in so doing He brought the life of God to men. Jesus fulfilled His promise to the disciples and came to them, because God is one. "Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, 'Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?' Jesus answered and said to him, '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'" (John 14:22-23). When the Holy Spirit came to abide, He brought the Father and Son with Him.
Brothers and sisters, this is the gospel, the "good news." Jesus has paid the way that God may dwell within us and we may enter into the fellowship of God. What greater thing could there be? Yes, there are good things that lead up to this indwelling, and others that follow after, but the pivotal point is that the temple of God is now among men. "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are" (I Cor. 3:16-17).
It is no longer just Jesus with us or the Holy Spirit with us, or the Holy Spirit coming on us from time to time, but God in us and us in God. Glory to God! That is the good news that should ring in our hearts and bless our souls every day and every hour. God dwells within us by the Spirit! Hallelujah, Amen!