How on earth is a Christian meant to fulfil the expectations Jesus has for those who follow him? It appears to be an impossible task! The answer is found in the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit picked up where Jesus left off. This is similar to a sports team when one member leaves the field of play and another takes his place. The Holy Spirit is not a second-string player. This is a tactical substitution where the Holy Spirit has been held in reserve for this moment when his skills are particularly needed.
Jesus taught the Holy Spirit is a good gift from God. This should ease any fears we may have about the Holy Spirit’s place in our life or church. Every aspect of our relationship with God, from the very first spiritual inkling we ever had, involves the work of the Holy Spirit. He alerts us to spiritual reality, helps us understand how far we are from God and how Jesus’ sacrifice brings us forgiveness. He gives us spiritual birth, helps develop Christian character and empowers us to live a godly life. The Holy Spirit is essential to Christian living, in fact, you cannot be a Christian without Him.
The context of our readings today is the Last Supper when Jesus was spending his final hours with the disciples and giving them last minute instructions. In a short time, he would be arrested, put on trial and executed. Jesus knew before too long his disciples would be persecuted, put on trial and some of them executed for their faith.
With this in mind Jesus said, I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you for ever—the Spirit of truth. The coming of the Holy Spirit is firstly linked to Jesus asking and secondly, to God the Father giving/sending. Jesus’ request for the Holy Spirit to be sent to them and God’s sending the Spirit gives us confidence that the presence of the Holy Spirit is God’s gracious gift to us.
A word used here to describe the Holy Spirit (Parakeltos – Greek) has generally been translated as Advocate, a legal supporter. But it might be better translated as a friend in court. The Holy Spirit is a friend provided by God to help us.
Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth (John 14.17, 15.26 & 16.32). Jesus himself claimed to be the truth and taught … true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth (John 4.23-24). Truth is a core attribute of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is eternal truth which you can trust and depend on.
An outworking of this truth is that the Spirit of truth testifies about Jesus: the truth of his being, his teaching and his saving grace. We see evidence of this on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came to the disciples, inspiring Peter to proclaim the gospel, resulting with around 3,000 people putting their trust in Jesus.
Because Jesus asked God to send the Holy Spirit as a good gift, a friend who supports us in our faith, we need to be open and welcoming to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Holy Spirit enlightens, inspires and empowers us to live as Christians. He is essential to the mission Jesus gave his disciples and therefore essential to the mission he has given us. It is only as we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit that we can be united in God’s family and fulfil the mission he has given us.
What will you do this week to foster your relationship with the Holy Spirit?
Rev John Malcolm