Loving Father, may I have the power to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:18-19).
“But they will do all these things to you on account of my name,
because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and
spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse
for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin.
But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. It was to
fulfil the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.’ When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.”
Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate was determined to wipe out every trace of Christianity. Instead, to his surprise, he discovered the law of spiritual thermodynamics: namely, the greater the heat, the greater the expansion. The more he persecuted the church, the faster it grew.
Tonight in the Upper Room Jesus wants His friends to know that they are about to be caught up in something far bigger than themselves. The persecution and trouble they will face is actually the world’s hatred of the Father and of Jesus. Being “friends” of Jesus will mean drawing the hatred of the world.
But do not be afraid! Help is on the way! Jesus says He is sending to His friends the “Advocate”, the Paraclete (Greek: “one called alongside to help”). Jesus says when the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, comes, He will testify to the world on Jesus’ behalf: “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf.” But the Spirit will testify through the testimony of Jesus’ friends: “You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.” As Jesus’ friends testify to Him through their lives and words, the Holy Spirit will powerfully testify through them.
Just before Jesus ascended into heaven, He promised that the Holy Spirit was coming to powerfully testify through His friends: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Here is the wondrous joy of our getting to be Jesus’ friends in the world! As we testify to Jesus, the Holy Spirit takes our words and actions and makes them life changing. The apostle Paul tells how he testified to Jesus with fear and trembling, but the Holy Spirit made his testimony powerful:
“And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:3-5).
As Jesus’ friends spread out across the Empire, the Emperor Julian the Apostate proved no match for them. Even in the face of trouble and persecution, the Holy Spirit transformed lives. And the Holy Spirit still does! The greater the heat, the greater the expansion proves to be!
- How have I experienced fear and much trembling in talking to people about Jesus?
- How might the Holy Spirit be moving me to testify to Jesus?
O most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother, may I know Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, and follow Thee more nearly, day by day.
Richard of Chichester (1197-1253)