Summary: In the absence of Jesus' physical presence on earth, Christians are Jesus' locums here on earth- carrying out the tasks Jesus had been doing whiles he was physically here.
I am sure most of us are familiar with situations where the permanent staff will be away for a day or so and an agency staff is booked to cover the shift. For example, in the teaching profession in UK we have supply teachers and the National Health Service has locum doctors. Staff who find themselves in such transient job are often faced with the problem of the service users not SEEING them as important people. This is particularly true of the supply teacher-student relationship.
This morning we are going to see a situation where someone was going away. But before he left, he made adequate preparations for people to cover his shift. That person was Jesus. As he was about to physically leave the face of the earth (after three years of active public service), he booked in people and prepared adequate handing-over notes for them. That is what I want us to discover in today’s Gospel reading- i.e. John chapter 14 verses 15 to 21; with a particular focus on verse 19, which reads:
Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. (NIV)
I have therefore coined today’s theme as: JESUS’ LOCUMS.
Let us pray-
Jesus Christ, you who have said that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth, we stand upon your word this morning; and pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal truth to us. We ask this prayer, in your precious and Holy Name- amen.
Understanding the Text- the Gospel of John Chapter 14 verses 15 to 21
Before we focus on verse 19, let us take a look at the entire discourse Jesus had with his disciples I call it his handing-over notes or supply cover notes. In his notes, he mentioned love, which we lead to obedience of his commands. For a little while, I want us to take note of what Jesus meant when he used that four letter-word- love. In the English language (as well as in many other languages) it had been difficult to have separate words for the various meanings associated with the word love. But for the ancient Greek, there were several words used for love. In this context, Jesus used the verb- AGAPAÓ (pronounced thus- AG-AP-AH-O) the noun form is called AGÁPĒ (pronounced thus- AG-AH'-PAY). That is love that is unconditional, love that is not based upon a proviso like- if I have this I will then love this person. It is love based upon making supreme sacrifices. Jesus is therefore telling these fellows (i.e. his disciples, whom he had booked to cover his shift when he would be away), that if they have such unconditional and sacrificial love; they are bound to obey his commands- the things he has set out for them to do and not to do as they cover his shift.
Let us therefore ask ourselves these questions-
• Do we have AGÁPĒ for Jesus? I.e. the kind of love Jesus is talking about in our text?
• Is our love for Jesus based upon certain conditions like- if I do have this I will really love Jesus?
• Are we making real sacrifices (for example our time, energies and other resources) for Jesus?
Having such love, would make Jesus request from the Father someone who would be there to help us throughout our shift, I repeat- throughout our shift. He would be there as an adviser, an advocate, a comforter, and a consoler. In other words, the helper would be someone that would be more than a Union representative and a senior staff.
Jesus is saying in his handing-over notes, that he will ask for this person and he is no other person but the Holy Spirit; who will lead us to all truth i.e. divine truth and reality.
Jesus went on to mention in his notes, that the people his disciples will be working for (the world) will not accept or welcome the Holy Spirit; because they cannot ‘see’ him or ‘know’ him. But his disciples ‘know’ the Holy Spirit.
Let us delve into those two words ‘see’ and know’. In other words, let me bore you with two Greek words. (I believe we are aware that ancient Greek was the original language of the New Testament). The verb ‘see’ in this context is THEÓREÓ (THEH-O-REH'-O), which also means experience. ‘Know’ is GINÓSKÓ (GHIN-OCE'-KO) and it brings about the meaning of having firsthand experience. These two words therefore have similar meanings.
Jesus informed his disciples that the people the disciples would be working for do not have firsthand experience of the Holy Spirit. But they, the disciples, know (have that experience) of the Holy Spirit.
Church, we are Jesus’ locums in this world. We do not have Jesus’ physical presence on earth any longer. He has left his disciples (those who recognise him as their LORD and Master) to carry on the task he had been doing when he was physically present here.