This morning I was reminded of how we tend to read God’s Word from a self-centered perspective. We are always looking at passages for how they affect us, personally. We want to know how that particular truth is going to impact us. I don’t suppose that’s necessarily a bad thing, but we don’t want to miss the bigger picture, either.
It’s not always just about “us”!
In John 14:21, Jesus says, He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him. As believers, we hunger to know more about God, and we long to experience His presence. This promise, that Jesus will “disclose Himself” to us in response to our loving obedience has always intrigued and motivated me. Yes, Jesus, I want to see more of You, know You more intimately, and experience Your presence! But I think there’s a bigger issue at hand than just “me.”
The word translated “disclose” is emphanizō, from en, “in,” intensive, and phaino, “to shine.” It can refer to “a physical manifestation, or metaphorically, of “the manifestation of Christ” by the Holy Spirit in the spiritual experience of believers who abide in His love” (Vine’s Dictionary). Strong’s Concordance defines it as “Christ giving evidence by the action of the Holy Spirit on the souls of the disciples that He is alive in heaven.”
One of the main themes in John 14-16 is the Holy Spirit’s work in and through us. Jesus knew He was leaving. His physical presence would be removed; the disciples would need affirmation and assurance that He was still alive. They would know this as the indwelling Holy Spirit transformed them from the inside out. His sanctifying work on their souls would be the clear, compelling evidence that everything Jesus had taught them was true, that heaven was real, that He was one day returning, and that the cross had accomplished its purpose of redeeming the souls of men.
I believe this is at least in part the “greater works” that Jesus said His disciples would do (John 14:12), referring to His works that exposed the sin of those who rejected Him (John 15:24). Our changed lives of turning from sin to Christ, first in salvation, and then as the Holy Spirit leads us to obey the commands of Christ in our everyday words, actions, and attitudes, is the indisputable evidence that JESUS IS ALIVE. A man who turns away from sin is a forceful and undeniable testimony to the power of a living God.
Jesus does indeed “disclose” Himself to us, personally, as we walk in obedience. But He also “shines in” us, disclosing Himself to the world around us. Do the people in your life see a living, active Savior by the way you act? By what you say? By how you treat those who hate you? Or would they struggle to believe because of the lack of evidence?
How will the world know Jesus is alive? By the way we love Him and keep His commandments. May Jesus be clearly seen, indisputably working in us to conform us to His image, so that no one can deny the truth that He is alive!