When writing a will one has in mind how one can benefit others following your own departure. Along with one’s material possessions one wants to think about how those closest to you are going to cope with the storms of life that might just about to be becoming stronger because your presence will no longer be there. When my wife and I wrote our first wills we still had small children and so the most important thing to us was to consider who could be a guide for them until they reached adulthood. Our parents were naturally ageing and we could not be sure they would themselves survive that long. The solicitor then suggested that in the will we nominate a couple of trusted friends who would be consulted during that period whenever major decisions regarding their welfare were made. Two such friends did in fact agree to being named and their role was to be mature and wise helpers, advocates and friends. As things turned out we continued to live and so the formal nature of this trusted friendship never had to be called upon but provision was made.
Jesus in this passage is invoking on behalf of his disciples the Father’s promise to provide such a person during his absence due to his death and eventual ascension. This person is the Holy Spirit the third person of the Trinity and therefore much more than simply someone to be consulted he is God himself. His role in coming to the disciples is much more than that of an adviser.
The first thing to grasp about the Holy Spirit is that he comes from the Father. ‘But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.’ John 15.26 Therefore he will act and reveal those things the Father wills. The full Godhead is working in harmony, the Spirit is coming from the Father but is sent by Jesus and therefore occurs at Pentecost following Jesus’ ascension. ‘Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.’ v7
The Greek word “Paraclete”, translated Helper in the ESV is translated Advocate in the NIV and Friend in the Message. These three variations convey some of the shades of meaning as to the role of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the disciples. What Jesus is also amazingly saying is that the disciples will be better off having received the Holy Spirit than with his physical presence.
Of course, any friend, helper or advocate is only of use if they are listened to. The Holy Spirit’s words and actions will have the character of the Father himself. Conflict will naturally occur between the world’s perspective and his and also within ourselves where we desire things contrary to God’s character. This means having the self-discipline to spend regular time in prayer and bible reading is essential if we are to be guided by him. It is through the “word” of God that the Holy Spirit primarily uses to guide and reveal God’s purposes and truth.
What is your experience of being “helped” by the Holy Spirit?
Do you use the bible as a standard to check guidance against?
Psalm 121 (I Lift My Eyes) LIVE – Kristyn Getty, Jordan Kauflin, Matt Merker