Read John 14–16.

The bible, the new testament, the gospels are full of embarrassing promises, but nowhere are they as thick and heavy as in Jesus’ last discourse to the disciples in John 14–16.

“If go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may also be.”

“The one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these.”

“I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the son.”

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

“He will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.”

“On that day, you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”

“They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Fathers, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”

“The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything.”

“Those who abide in me and I in them will bear much fruit.”

“If you abide in me, and my words in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

“I do not call you servants anymore, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father.”

“I have appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.”

“‘Servants are not greater than their masters.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.”

“When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.”

“Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.”

So, we are to be filled with the Holy Spirit, guided into all truth, doing greater works than Jesus? We will be purified so that we can keep Jesus’ commandments? We will bear much fruit? Whatever we ask in Jesus’ name, the Father will do?

Are these promises true in us? Do you find that whatever you ask in Jesus’ name is done for you?

Embarrassing promises indeed, but embarrassing not to Jesus but to the church, that there are so few who believe and love and obey and bear fruit in this way.

It is true that Jesus was speaking to his disciples, later to be called apostles. It is true that these things were not true of his disciples while he was present with them on earth. Much of the time we see them we would not have seen these promises fulfilled. In fact, there was even a time before they were disciples, when they were—what. Nothing? Pre-disciples? Then what would we have seen?

Yet Jesus chooses them as disciples and later promotes them from “servants” to “friends,” who know all of Jesus' secrets. There is a progression in the Christian life. Fruit takes time to ripen.

Look at these promises, these great gifts, offered to all who love God:

  • The Advocate
  • Knowledge of God and all things
  • An answer to every prayer
  • Much fruit
  • Persecution and suffering
  • Complete joy
  • A place beside Jesus

The Advocate is given to those who will receive him. To those who will not receive him, he is not given. Those who will receive him are those who love him. Those who do not love him do not wish to receive him.

It’s easy to look at these promises and consider them an embarrassment. They aren’t for us but for the disciples. They may come true some day, who knows, but they don’t apply now. They are for saints but I’m not a saint. Or to disbelieve them. Or just to ignore them and not think about them. There are a hundred ways to refuse to receive these promises. But if you receive them and desire them, they will inevitably transform your life.

Do you want to prepare yourself to receive this Advocate? You must love him. You must desire him. Desire is the most important thing in the preparation for knowing God. Desire that manifests in prayer, in action, in submission, in love, in light, in life.

Are you lacking in desire? Pray for more love. Every day, pray for more love. You will receive, that your joy may be complete.

Harry Plantinga

Harry Plantinga is a professor of computer science at Calvin University and the director of and