Theme of the Week: The Voice of Jesus
Bible Verse: “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26
Scripture Reading: John 14:1-31
If Jesus is the good shepherd and his sheep hear his voice, how do we hear it? How is it recognized and known?
For one thing, the voice of Jesus is found in the words of the apostles, as written in the New Testament. Indeed, the whole of holy Scripture is the word of Christ (Col 3:16). Furthermore, many Christians would affirm the role of the church and of those within the church who are called to speak for Christ in the life and witness of the Christian community. But Christians of all traditions are appreciating more and more that the voice of Jesus is also present to the Christian community through the inner witness of the Holy Spirit.
This inner witness is always grounded in the written witness of the Spirit – holy Scripture – and it is recognized by those who live in mutual submission within the community of faith. With these two anchors in place, Christians can know and live by the remarkable reality that God speaks to us through his Son, Jesus Christ, and that Jesus is present to us by his Spirit. We hear the voice of Jesus as we attend to the inner witness of the Spirit.
The connection between hearing the voice of Jesus and listening to the Spirit should come as no surprise to those familiar with the Gospel of John. An underlying thread of this Gospel is that the disciples learned to live by the voice of Jesus. Then in chapter 14 Jesus announced that he would be returning to the Father and that this meant he would be physically absent from them and from the world. They would no longer be able to see and touch him or hear his audible voice – the voice that had come to mean so much to them. Yet he also urged them not to be anxious about this. He would not leave them orphaned (John 14:18); rather, he would send them “another.” This other was an Advocate, the Spirit of Truth, who would testify on behalf of Jesus (John 15:26).
The Spirit has come in place of the bodily presence of Jesus, and so the church follows Christ only insofar as it intentionally responds to the Spirit. Therefore, when we long to hear the voice of Jesus, what we seek is not an audible voice that we hear with our senses. Rather, we listen to Jesus and live by his “voice” when we attend to the Spirit – when we are, in the words of Romans 8:14, led by the Spirit. Jesus is known, and thus the voice of Jesus is known, through the ministry of the Spirit.
Gordon T. Smith in The Voice of Jesus. Copyright ©2003 by Gordon T. Smith. Used by permission of Intervarsity Press.
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