- Religion and Philosophy
John's Gospel-a new look number 16: Chapter 14 cont. "the helper is coming".
The Holy Spirit explained - the new helper.
John's Gospel. A New Look . Number 16: Chapter 14:12-31-The New Helper.
As John continues with his account of the Good News about Jesus, he introduces and expands what Jesus taught about the Holy Spirit. As the disciples faced the confusion and fear in their lives that had arrived in full force and was going to increase in the near future, Jesus reassures them that he will not leave them as orphans, but will send them a comforter. (vs.18)There is no doubt that they would need as much help as they could get. Ahead lay the arrest of Jesus and the journey to the cross. Their fear and confusion was to go into new dimensions as their leader died on the cross. So his assurance that they will not be left without help is vital. Yes, he will be raised from the dead but what then?
The Holy Spirit is vital to the universal nature of the church. As the good news goes out into the whole world, God's saving grace goes with it in the form of the indwelling Spirit that is involved in regeneration and growth. How would they remember and fully understand everything Jesus taught? The Holy Spirit would teach them (vs.26). Many of Jesus' teachings were not clear to the disciples at that stage, but with the assistance of the indwelling Spirit, they would later become clear.
Because Jesus was limited in time and space while on earth, the Holy Spirit would be needed to take the Good News into all the world through all time, until the return of Jesus. In Matthew 28:18,19 Jesus explains this to his disciples before his ascension: "Go into all the world and make disciples of all people, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teach them everything I have taught you. And I will be with you to the end of the age". It is through the presence of the Holy Spirit that Jesus could give them that assurance. On the first Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2:38, Peter could answer the people present: "Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit". Here Peter, lead by the Holy Spirit as promised in John 14:25,26, is sharing the Good News.
The word Jesus uses for the Holy Spirit which is translated as "comforter" or "helper", can be misleading. The only other place in the New Testament where it occurs is in 1 John 2:1 where it refers to Jesus. It can perhaps better be translated as "advocate", or as someone who stands between the accused in their defence.
Tenney suggests that we can learn six things about the Holy Spirit in verses 16 and 17: 1) that he is the answers to Jesus' prayer; 2) he takes Jesus' place as advocate; 3) he also dwells permanently with and in the believer; 4)he delivers truth; 5)He is not known by the world and 6) he will dwell in the believer. The apostle Paul states in Romans 8:9 as he describes life in the Spirit, that "if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ he is none of his".
What is certain at this point is that the disciples continued to be confused by what Jesus was saying and this is illustrated by the question asked by Judas(not Iscariot): "Lord, how can it be that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?" The response is as important today as it was then: "Whoever loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and my Father and I will come to his and live with him". (John 14:23)Here is the powerful and personal picture about the new life in Christ, with the believer being the temple of God as the Holy Spirit lives in them."Do you not know that you body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, who you have received from God?" (1 Corinthians 6:19) The good news is available to all but the new life offered is only available to those who choose to believe and accept it.
As Jesus continues he promises them peace: "It is my own peace that I leave with you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried or upset; do not be afraid." (vs.27) Much needed words that helped them in this time of confusion and fear and also later as they faced the challenge of doing the work that he has planned for them. In Acts 4:19,20 Luke records the words of Peter and John as they tell the powerful Sanhedrin: "You yourself judge what is right in God's sight - to obey you or to obey God. For we cannot stop speaking about what we ourselves have seen and heard." (Good News Translation)
Two facts should perhaps be highlighted in this section. Firstly, that Jesus supports his followers at every turn, in every challenge, and in every time, through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Secondly, that in all that is happening, God is in control and that when we love God and keep his commandments we can be assured that he is working with us and in us through the Holy Spirit.