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The 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 for another.

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 us.

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.

Amen



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