You are startled awake by the loud blaring of the fire alarm. You can already smell the smoke and you hurry from your room on an upper floor of the hotel. Rushing down to the fire escape, you discover that it is about to be overcome by flames. So you turn around and head back the other direction. You have to fight your way through a stampede of hotel guests who are trying to reach the fire escape. “No!” you say, “Turn around; you will die if you keep going that way.” Most of them don’t believe you. Some call you an idiot for ignoring the fire escape sign. Those few who decide to trust you, turn around and follow you in the “wrong” direction. They live.
Jesus was in a situation like that. He knew we were thundering toward death. He urged us to turn around and head the “wrong” way, in order to find eternal life. That is why so much of what He said seems up-side-down. Like this:
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4 )
He didn’t say that those who grieve are happy. He said they would one day be comforted and therefore are blessed. This statement follows the previous one about realizing our spiritual poverty. The kind of mourning Jesus was referring to was the desire to be spiritually full, spiritually rich, without being able to change one’s spiritual bankruptcy.
Jesus said people in that condition would be comforted. He wasn’t talking about someone who would feel sorry for them and say soothing things. He was talking about a total reversal in their spiritual bank account. Here’s how I know: Jesus said,
‘If ye love me, my commands keep, and I will ask the Father, and another Comforter He will give to you, that he may remain with you—to the age; the Spirit of truth, whom the world is not able to receive, because it doth not behold him, nor know him, and ye know him, because he doth remain with you, and shall be in you. ( John 14:15-17 Young’s’ Literal Translation)
I used that old fashioned sounding translation because they gave the literal translation of the word Jesus called the Holy Spirit – Comforter. It is the same root word He used when He said those who mourn “will be comforted.” The people who are spiritually bankrupt and who mourn their condition, who are unable to be good enough or spiritual enough to change it, will be comforted. How? They will receive the Holy Spirit, Who will “remain” (live) in their souls forever. This is eternal life.
Ok, but what’s all this business about “if you love me and keep my commands?” Those are like the folks in the hotel hallway who turn around and head in the opposite direction because they trusted you. That’s what happens when you trust and love Jesus. You turn around, you follow, you live.