Right now we desperately need what Jesus prayed to his Father for in John 17:26 that “I myself may be in them,” which Paul described as the “glorious riches” of a “mystery kept hidden for ages, but is now disclosed to the saints” in Colossians 1:26-27. Christ living his life in us is the greatest thing that could happen to us, in other words.
But how does it happen? And how do we know “Christ living his life in us” is happening too?
Jesus explains in John 14. He starts off in verses 16-17 by telling his disciples “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth,” who not only lives “with” us, he also lives “in” us. And the purpose of this other Counsellor (the “Holy Spirit,” verse 26) is to get the point across that “I (Jesus) am in you,” verse 20.
It means a great deal to Jesus that we’re not left out in the cold to fend for ourselves or live the life of “orphans” (verse 18), so through the Holy Spirit he not only “comes” to us in verse 18, he also “shows” himself to us in verse 21, and along with his Father he makes his “home” in and with us as well, verse 23. So we’ll certainly know he’s real all right.
And we know this is real because we experience a remarkable “peace,” verse 27. And it truly is remarkable, because it’s the kind of peace that he, Jesus, experiences, that cannot come from anything in this world. When, for instance, did we ever experience our “hearts not being troubled” or not living in fear (verse 27) when Jesus wasn’t living in us? My life was filled with worries and stress.
So there we have what Jesus desires for us and how it comes about, through the Holy Spirit living Jesus’ life and peace in us, and enough for us to “know” it too (verse 17).
And sprinkled through this explanation by Jesus he also drops clues as to how the Holy Spirit does all this for us. He does it, verse 26, by “reminding us of everything” Jesus “said,” “taught,” and “commanded” his disciples to do (verses 21, 23). The Holy Spirit, in other words, is living and teaching exactly the same life that Jesus lived and taught to his disciples, in us.
Or as Jesus phrases it later in John 16:13, the Spirit will “guide us into all truth” by, verse 14, “taking from what is mine and making (all that Jesus is) known to you.” And somehow the Holy Spirit is able to get that across to us, so that we always know Jesus is teaching and living everything he is in us.
But to get us to that point, so that not only do we experience Jesus’ peace but also his “joy,” John 15:11, Jesus drops a vital clue in the picture of a tree with branches full of good fruit on them, because they’re attached to the tree’s trunk. It seems like an obvious point but in Jesus’ mind he means we depend on him for everything, not only in his teachings as our guide in life (15:3), but also seeing him as our most intimate friend who will answer us personally whenever we need an answer (verses 7-15).
Because that’s exactly what the Father and Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to us for, to help us see Jesus in that light, because that’s how we experience Jesus living his life of peace and joy in us. And all Jesus asks of us is to believe it’s true and hang on to it (verse 9).