April 26 — John 14 — Loving Obedience. The verb for “love” (agapáō) is also emphasized in this chapter, appearing 10 times. Here, however, it is connected with obedience. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (v. 15). Obedience is the proof of love. Many people today claim that they love God but there is little evidence of it in the way they live. They are not committed to doing what God commands. If we really want to love God, we must be serious about obeying what He has commanded. We prove the genuineness of our love by obedience. Jesus said essentially the same thing but from a different perspective: “Whoever does not love me does not keep my words” (v. 24). They “do not” because they “cannot.” Will-power obedience is short-lived. Love provides the ability to obey. How does one get that love? God provides the ability through His indwelling presence: The “Spirit of truth … will be in you” (v. 17).
April 27 — John 15 — Fruitful Obedience. Last time, we saw that obedience is the proof of love. Today, we read that bearing fruit is proof of being Christ’s disciple: “… that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (v. 8). Bearing fruit is evidence that we, as the branch, are connected to the vine, which is Christ. This is real fruit, not the plastic fruit of doing good things by one’s own initiative and will-power. Real fruit will result by being constantly connected to the vine (“abide”—v. 4). The fruit is God’s fruit, not ours. How do we “abide”? One way that Jesus suggests here is to have “my words abide in you” (v. 7). These are Jesus’ words you read today in this chapter. Let them sink deep into your mind and heart. Think about them during the day. Let them teach you and change you. Another way to “abide” is to be obedient to what you know to be God’s will. “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love” (v. 10).
April 28 — John 16 — Godhead Connections. In this chapter, Jesus revealed much about the relationship of His followers to the Trinity. His disciples had an intimate personal relationship with Jesus for about three years but there was still something lacking. There was a new dimension of relationship on the way but it required that Jesus would physically depart from them in order that the Holy Spirit might establish for them a spiritual relationship with the Godhead (v. 7). Part of the advantage of Jesus’ leaving the disciples was that the Spirit “will guide you into all the truth” (v. 13), communicating to them what Jesus would tell the Spirit (v. 14). Another change that would happen with Jesus’ leaving the earth was that instead of asking Jesus for something, believers would ask the Father directly in the name of Jesus (v. 23). They would exchange their physical relationship with Jesus for a spiritual relationship with the whole Godhead through the indwelling Spirit. That is the same relationship we share today with the Trinity: we pray to the Father in the name of Jesus through the influence of the Holy Spirit.
April 29 — John 17 — Knowing God. One of the most important statements in the New Testament is found in this chapter. It is a definition of eternal life, which is the supernatural spiritual life that Jesus gives to each individual entering the Christian life. It is a life of both supreme quality and infinite duration. Here is Jesus’ definition: “This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (v. 3). Having eternal life involves entering a relationship with deity—knowing God. That is why some people who believe in Jesus and attend church may still not have a personal relationship with God. Believing can be superficial; it might only involve intellectual faith. That was my situation until I was 23 years of age. Faith that discovers eternal life is a wholehearted belief that surrenders not only the mind but also the heart, soul, and will to God. That is the way to know God.
April 30 — John 18 — What is Truth? Jesus’ purpose for coming into the world was “to bear witness to the truth” (v. 37). However, not everyone who hears the truth comprehends and believes it. Jesus said that only the person “who is of the truth listens to my voice” (v. 37). The word “listens” here implies acceptance and obedience, not just hearing the truth but acting on it. Only those who have received eternal life have the ability to fully comprehend and the willingness to wholly submit to the true teachings of Jesus. Pilate was certainly not at that point. He didn’t even know what truth was, asking, “What is truth?” (v. 38). In Jesus’ prayer that we read last time, He said to the Father, “your word is truth” (John 17:17). That would be a good answer to Pilate’s question as it is for all of us as well. All we need to know about the meaning and purpose of life here and hereafter is in the Word of God, the Bible.