Jesus Alive in You
Jesus Alive in You
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
I so often read these verses, but it seems to me to have the whole spirit and the whole attitude of Jesus and his dear heart. It very much just seems like you are sitting and his feet and listening to him. It’s John Chapter 16:
“I have said all this to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you of them.
“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
“I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
“A little while, and you will see me no more; again a little while, and you will see me.” Some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?” They said, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he means.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him; so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name. Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
“I have said this to you in figures; the hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in figures but tell you plainly of the Father. In that day you will ask in my name; and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from the Father. I came from the Father and have come into
the world; again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”
His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure! Now we know that you know all things, and need none to question you; by this we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, every man to his home, and will leave me alone; yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” RSV
Of course, he’s obviously preparing everybody for the whole reality that he will NOT leave the world. Really, He will continue in the world in each one of us. He will be in us through his spirit. He was making it plain to them, “in a little while you will see me no more. THEN, I will be back with you permanently.” Of course, that’s the thing I think is still almost impossible for us to get hold of in our own little minds because we have heard he will be in us and we will be in him.
We’ve read John 15, “I am the vine and you are the branches and that if you abide in me you will bear fruit.” We’ve got hold of the whole idea that, “Yes, Jesus is really in me. He IS in me. In some way he is in me in his spirit.” But, deep down in our own hearts we in a way still talk like, “I’d like to explain to you why Irene likes all the plates and the cups set out as she does. It’s really because of her background.” She would say, “Look! I’m here! Why are you talking about me as if I am not here? If you want me to explain why I put the [cups in that position] I’d do it here.” But we all say, “No, no. She thinks she’s here but she’s not really here. So, I’ll tell you what she really thinks.”
I think that’s what we do. “Well, I know he’s in me. I know he’s in me but I’ll tell you what he thinks. Well, he thinks that we should pray this way or we should speak like that. Or here’s what you do when you don’t have your prayer answered.” And he’s saying, “But I’m IN you! I’m in you. Why are you talking as if I’m not here? Why are you talking as if I’m just a bundle of ideas? Why are you talking as if I’m just a way to live? I’m IN you. I’m in you.”
We have a tendency to say, “Yes, yes, yes. We know that. We know that you are kind of in us. But this is the only way we can talk about truth. We can’t really talk about you because we know you are in us but you’re really up at the right hand of God, aren’t you? And anyway, if you are in us at all, it’s your spirit that is in us. So, I mean, WE’RE still in charge, aren’t we?”
When you think about it, we have a way of turning his presence into an idea. We have a way of talking about Irene as if she is not here. We have a way of talking about him as if he’s actually not here. Too often, we don’t do one thing, or we do another thing NOT because we’d be embarrassed to say it in his presence – because, “After all, he’s not really here. So, why should we be embarrassed?”
We subtly change the whole thing into an idea. So, we have heard often – at least you heard me often talk about the “I-Thou” relationship and that Christianity is not an “I-It” relationship. Mohammed can’t be IN a person so they [Muslims] can only talk about Mohammed’s ideas. So it’s an “I-It” relationship. Ours of course is different. But is it? Is it really different?
It seems to me, so often we subtly switch from “Jesus IN me” – from the lady being here – to a mental attitude of, “I pretend the lady isn’t here and I talk about her ideas.” So often, I think
we don’t do something or we do something not because we’d be embarrassed if he knew it, but because, “That is what he taught and that is what he said we should do – NOT because he’s in me and is endeavouring to use my hands to do something – because after all, that’s ridiculous!”
There’s something there that is worth looking at. Is he IN you? Not, “I agree” because of your own holiness, but are you actually, because of his presence in you, are you the only expression of him and his Father that exists – just like you? Is it true or is it not? I think that’s a massive gift and a massive truth that we ignore. We are good Christians because we do love Jesus, and we do want to obey him, and we want to do the things that would please him: “But he’s NOT actually IN me! I mean, he possibly could hear me, because even good spies could hear me through thin air. So, probably God has some arrangement where he could hear me. And is some way, you could say that he is IN me, but not really. In a way this [pointing to body] is his body, his mind in a metaphorical way – but it’s not actually, is it? I mean if it were, I wouldn’t talk about it so much as if it were MINE. I’d talk about it as HIS.” So, there is something there [to think about].
There’s something we’re missing. We have a tendency to say, “Oh well, we try to speak his words.” Yes, but do you speak them with his heart? Do you speak them with his heart? Do you LET him speak through you? It’s very subtle – practical atheism is very subtle. Practical “atheism”: “a” is the negative Latin prefix. “Theos” is God. “Atheism” is “no God”. We don’t like to think we live as if there is no God. But, do you live as if there is no God in you? Do you live as if there is no Jesus in you?
I mean, this is ridiculous. He actually uses the words, “Unless you eat my flesh”. You know, we old protestants have all kinds of interpretations of the bell ringing and the mass and the change of the elements and all that kind of thing. But, it’s very hard to get around it. It’s very hard to get around the words, “Unless you eat my flesh you have no life in you.” You can see why in the first century they charged them with cannibalism. But, here we are again, his body and his blood. It’s hard to choose concrete language that would be more explicit in the implication that Christ is actually IN us – that Christ is actually in us and that this is HIS life.
It seems to me that’s the heart of it – of our life: that Christ is in you in a unique way that he is not in me and that he has a life to live in you that he will not live in anyone else. His Father has planned that his Son would be in you. He would give you not just created life like he did when we were created in Christ Jesus – but he will give you his uncreated life, his own personal love for his Father, and his own personal relationship with his Father, he will impart that to you and THAT will begin to pour out through all the parts of your personality and your body and transform them into a new creation that the world has never seen.
That’s what we’re involved in. That is what your life and mine is about. We are actually a version of God’s Son that does not exist elsewhere in the universe and that is being formed now. He of course is what he said, “I stand at the door and knock. If any man hears my voice and opens the door I will come in to him and will sup with him.” [Revelations 3:20]
So many of us are just at that stage. “I will sup with him. I will go in as a guest and I will eat food with him.” But the reasoning came in — “I will sup with him and he will EAT with me. I will at last, own all that I have bought with a price and he will be my guest in this life which is what Paul was saying when he said, “This life I live yet not I but Christ lives within me.” [Galations 2:20]
I think there is a whole deep and beautiful and truthful experience for each of us there, HERE. When you think of it, it’s talked about in all kinds of terms in the Bible. “Entering into the fullness of his stature.” [Ephesians 4:13] “Growing up into the fullness of Christ.” [Ephesians 4:15] “Christ being fully formed in us.” [Galatians 4:19] It’s there in all kinds of forms — that there is a revelation or expression of the reality that Christ is in you and that you are in Christ and that this is a version of Christ that you are living. There are all kinds of expressions of that in the New Testament — but, so often we have turned it into an “I-It” relationship, where we do: “Let me explain to you why Irene does that. Yet she’s here! Let HER explain!” “I’ll explain what Christ thinks we should do.” He’s IN you. Let HIM explain.
There is something deep and true that God wants us to come into – each one of us – and to transmit in some way. You see why I think so much effort, time and prayer can be a blessing to so many people in the websites because you don’t need me to tell you, people don’t talk about this. It DOES take care and love and wisdom to do it. But of course, it would make it plain how different truth and reality — or we call it Christianity – but I differ it is from all the other false explanations of reality. Of course it would transform dear hearts in their lives.
Let us pray.