Passage: John 14:15-31
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
On Jesus’ final night, he sought to reframe the perspective of his anxious disciples, so that they could have courage for the mission that would soon be theirs. In John 14:15-31 in particular, he sought in to reframe their perspective on his departure by assuring them that though he was going away, his going would in fact be the means by which he would come closer to them than ever before. How could this be so? Through the Holy Spirit.
Who is this Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is not a “force” or life principle, but is a person—the third person of the Trinity. God has always existed as a community of three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) eternally giving and receiving relational love. Thus, when Jesus speaks of the Spirit coming into his disciples upon his departure, he can truly describe this event as he himself coming into them (“I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you”), and even as he and his Father both coming into them (“we will come and make our home with him…”). Through the person of Spirit, then, the whole loving community of the Godhead moves into a believer’s life. All of this means that we are profoundly hardwired for community, since God himself is a community of relational love—and God provides just that loving relationship. Though Jesus is departing, he is coming closer to his disciples than ever before.
There is also a context in which the love and presence of the Holy Spirit is most intimately experienced—the context of obedience to Christ’s word: “If anyone loves me,” Jesus says, “He will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come and make our home with him” (14:23). This does not mean that we merit the presence of the Spirit, but it does mean that as we obey Christ more concretely, we will experience the Spirit more closely. As is true in any relationship, when we partner with God in doing the things he cares most about, we can expect to experience greater intimacy with him.
Lastly, it is Jesus’ crucifixion that is the cause of his Spirit being given. In each of the four gospels, as Jesus dies, there is mention of his “giving up his Spirit”, or “breathing his last”. As Jesus dies, the life that animated him is (literally) breathed into the world, animating all who trust in him with the same Spirit of self-giving love.
So yes, Jesus is going away, but his going is to draw closer to us than ever before. Yes, Jesus is about to die, but his death will breathe life into us like never before. May we draw close to him, as he draws close to us!
- The Character of the Spirit (14:15-20)
- The Context of the Spirit (14:21-24)
- The Cause of the Spirit (14:25-31)
Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide
Re-read the passage(s): John 14:15-31
The Character of the Spirit (14:15-20)
1) Re-read John 14:15-20, and meditate on these verses together:
• What are the various ways the Holy Spirit is described in these verses? What does this say about his role? What will he do?
• Why do you think John uses the imagery of “orphans” in verse 18? Why is this imagery appropriate? What fears and anxieties is Jesus seeking to alleviate?
• What does John say will be the effect(s) of being indwelt by the Spirit?
2) In verse 16, Jesus says that the Father will give us “another helper” (ESV)—a word which can be accurately translated as helper, advocate, or counselor.
• In what ways is the Holy Spirit a helper, advocate, and counselor? What does he help us with, advocate for, and counsel us in?
• Why is he called another helper? Who was the first helper? How does the word “another” help us understand the Holy Spirit’s role?
3) In recent weeks, how have you experienced the Holy Spirit as a “another helper”? Where do you long to experience him in this way?
4) In the sermon, Pastor Bobby pointed out how Jesus can speak interchangeably about the Holy Spirit coming to his disciples (see 14:16-17), about he himself coming to his disciples (see 14:18), and about he and his Father coming to his disciples (see 14:23). In other words, when the Spirit comes into a believer, he communicates the entire presence of our Triune God, who is a God of relational love. How does this understanding enrich what it means to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit?
5) In the sermon, Pastor Bobby said that because we are made in the image of a relational God, we are therefore hardwired to desire community, relationship, and connection. How have you experienced this longing recently? What implications does this have for the way we disciple people, and seek to be the church? What implications does this have for our witness?
The Context of the Spirit (14:21-24)
6) Re-read John 14:21-24. What does Jesus say is the connection between loving God and keeping his word? What is the connection between keeping his word experiencing intimacy with God?
7) In the sermon, Pastor Bobby made the point that we experience intimacy with God most when we’re most obedient to him—concretely doing the things he cares about. Why do you think this is so? What implications does this have for how we disciple people?
8) Can you think of an example of a time in your life when you experienced deeper intimacy with God in the process of being obedient to him and partnering with him in the things he cares about?
9) Is there an area of your life right now where you’re experiencing a lack of intimacy due to a lack of obedience? What would repentance and fresh obedience look like for you in this area of life? How can your Small Group, or other Christians support you in this?
The Cause of the Spirit (14:25-31)
10) Re-read John 14:25-31, and meditate on these verses together:
• Why should the disciples not be “troubled” at this time? How will the Spirit help them to not be troubled?
• How will Jesus leave his “peace” with the disciples?
• How should the disciples be feeling about Jesus’ departure? Why should they feel this way?
11) In the sermon, Pastor Bobby said that in each of the four gospels, Jesus is said to either “breathe his last”, “give up his Spirit”, or “commit his Spirit” back to his Father, showing that his crucifixion was the moment that made possible the release of his Spirit into the all who believe (see also John 7:39). In other words, Jesus literally “died to get close to us”. What assurances does this give us about God’s heart and character towards us?
12) What has been your main takeaway from this past week’s sermon/passage? (It might be a truth to consider further…an attitude to embrace…an action to take).
Additional Application Questions
Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?
Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?
Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.