Holy Spirit in John - John 14:16
Our Gospel reading continues
from last Sunday and we are once more with the disciples in the upper
room, after Judas, the betrayer has left. It is worth being with the
disciples – they have been part of the climatic entry into Jerusalem,
experienced the adulation of the crowds and now finally their friend and
teacher, the one they believe in has revealed himself at long last in
the place where it matters, Jerusalem, the Holy City. They have
celebrated the Passover supper and, as yet mysteriously for them, the
celebration of Jesus own sacrifice to come. Then comes the shock of
learning that one of them, one of their number one of his faithful
followers will betray him, Judas is identified and leaves. Jesus
explains that he then is to leave them and that they cannot go with him.
All this is a day or two – how are they feeling, our disciples?
(They are) bewildered, shocked, despondent and perhaps feeling let down.
We thought Jesus was the Messiah, the Lord, we left everything, our
boats our nets, our tax booths to follow him and now just as it looks
all set to come right he is leaving us. The disciples were expecting to
do great things but with Jesus, not without him, they hoped to do
amazing things with him alongside them for power and protection. Now
they discover he is going.
Jesus’ answer to all this worry is “Oh yes, I am leaving but ...”
But I will go to the Father and he will send you someone else. It is
worth remembering that the disciples are already struggling with Jesus
and the Father being one and the same – Philip is asking “Lord, show us
the father and we will be satisfied.” So it is worth looking carefully
at who this third person is to be. The Greek word is “Parakletos” from
which comes our word Paraclete and that our Bible translates as
advocate. Actually this is more rare than other words, mainly because
our version of the Bible sticks as closely as possible to the original
Greek and the Greek can mean legal assistant or one who pleads a cause
I looked at around twenty versions of this verse and the most common
words are helper or comforter and sometimes counsellor. So we struggle a
little with knowing what Jesus said in his Aramaic and how that really
felt to the disciples and so what it should mean to us.
Helper is probably easiest, the helper is to be the Spirit and is there
to give us the strength and energy we need and to encourage and assist
Comfort is a wonderful thing. From early childhood we recognize that a
touch, a cuddle, a gentle word an embrace can give us the strength we
need to recover from an injury, disappointment, or tragedy and can give
us the help we need to take the next step, to face the next moment. All
this is true too for still when we are grown up
Comforter, helper, companion, friend and advocate the Spirit that Jesus
promises us will be with us forever. As Paul wrote:
“Hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured not our
hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” The Holy
Spirit is both giver and gift.
But there is more; “I will not leave you orphaned. I am coming to you.”
Jesus explains that the disciples know him, that is to say the Holy
Spirit, for “I am in my father and you in me, and I in you.” For God the
Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one and by sending the Holy Spirit Jesus
is sending himself.
Whish leads to a remarkable idea, we as Christians today are in a better
position than even his followers in his lifetime fo we can do all the
things we need with the help, comfort, counsel and advocacy of the Holy
Sprit just as if Jesus were alongside us with his power, protection and
encouragement. Because through the mystery of the Trinity He is.
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