There is a story that in Mississippi USA a young lawyer was prosecuting his first case. His first witness was an elderly lady and to put her at her ease he thought he would ask a simple question. He said, “Mrs Jones do you know me?” “Yes,” she said. “I have known you since you were a boy and frankly you are a big disappointment. You lie, you cheat, you manipulate people and you cheat on your wife. You are nothing more than a 2 bit paper pusher.” Trying to recover the lawyer asked, “Do you know my colleague for the defense?” “Yes,” Mrs Jones replied. “He is a lazy bigot who has a drinking problem. He cannot sustain any normal relationships and has the worst law practice in the State. He has cheated on his wife three times and the last one was your wife.” At that point the judged quietly summoned both lawyers to the bench and whispered, “If either of you ask her if she knows me I will send you both to the electric chair! The truth can at times be very uncomfortable.
Most of us would say we want to know the truth but when we say that we often have an internal desire for that truth to confirm to what we already believe to be true. We want an affirmation of our current understanding. When what we hear differs from our presumptions it can become difficult even unacceptable. We cannot help it, our existing world view shapes our understanding of the truth.
Jesus had embarked on a long sequence of teaching to his most intimate disciples, immediately prior to his arrest, recorded by John in chapters 14 to 17. A close relationship between the disciples and Jesus had already been formed and now he knew he was about to be taken from them. He was drawing on their existing relationship when he said, ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments.’ v15 Jesus was not making his love conditional on blind obedience or legalistic conformity. Jesus is the incarnate Son of God, to love him is to recognize him for who he is and therefore willingly obey him out of love. As we grow in our love for Jesus so we will increase in obedience and it will be a matter of joy and not a hardship.
However, the disciples were used to having Jesus consistently with them, reinforcing their love and trust by his presence, the sound of his voice and witnessing the many miracles he performed. How were they going to cope when Jesus left? Scripture is full of occasions when God’s people were obedient when all was going miraculously well but the heart had often proved fickle. Remember how the Israelites repeatedly grumbled in the desert and built themselves a golden calf to worship. The Israelites at that point had blocked the truth they had experienced of walking through the Red Sea as the Lord parted it and created their own false truth that a man-made statue was now their God.
To prevent a similar falling away the Trinity of God was going to take action. Jesus was going to ask God the Father to send God the Holy Spirit to be with them and in them. v17 The Spirit was described by Jesus as their helper or advocate. He was going to be their constant companion. v16 The Greek for helper is parakletos commonly used in terms of an advocate in a law court. The Holy Spirit was to be their representative to God the Father. We read elsewhere that Jesus intercedes for his disciples, (Romans 8.34)together they make for powerful representation on our behalf.
What sort of helper is the Holy Spirit to be? In the context of this passage Jesus means the Spirit is the one who will teach his disciples the truth. For those at the time it would have been reminding them of Jesus’ teaching and opening the Old Testament scriptures to them so they understood how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies. In a similar way Jesus explained the scriptures to the two disciples on the Emmaus road. The Holy Spirit also inspired the authors of the New Testament. For disciples now it is the Holy Spirit who brings a spiritual understanding and conviction as we read the New Testament as well as the Old Testament.
It is the spiritual understanding the Holy Spirit brings that separates the disciple of Jesus from the wider world. It is so important then that we pray for those who are wanting to know more of Jesus and are seeking after God, asking that the Spirit of truth will bring not only an intellectual grasp of the truth but also a spiritual conviction leading to repentance and new birth. The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of truth makes clear to us our standing before God, who Jesus is and what he achieved through his crucifixion and resurrection. He enables us to love God and keep his commandments.
What impact has the Spirit of truth had on your life?
Who are you praying for that the Spirit of truth will reveal who Jesus is?
Spirit of the Living God – Vertical Worship