One of the regular tasks, and great joys, of our ministry team is the Wednesday training session for all our interns. Week after week we take turns to teach any number of topics and yesterday it was my turn.
We looked together at what Jesus has to say about the Holy Spirit, who He is and what He does.
The most sustained teaching in the whole Bible on the topic is Jesus’ “upper room discourse” in John 14-16 and yesterday our interns walked their way through Jesus’ words to his troubled disciples; troubled because Jesus had just told them that he was about to leave. They had spent 3 years with him and suddenly he announces that he is going somewhere else.
But they won’t be on their own:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.”John 14:15-16
In just one breath Jesus comforts us with profound truth. Those that love Jesus will keep his commandments and his commandments are not complicated: we are simply to love one another as Jesus has loved us (John 15:12). Simple, and yet very very difficult. Because (in case you’ve not worked it out yet) we’re all sinners and so we’re often very difficult to love.
But we’re not on our own as we seek to love in this way. Here’s the second verity we are comforted with: we will be sent another Helper.
The Holy Spirit that Jesus sends (and he makes this identification clear a little later in 14:26) is another Helper. ie they have already known a Helper. So the promised Spirit is a Helper just as Jesus was. He is a direct replacement for the One that they have known these three years.
The word “Helper” is the Greek “parakaleo” – literally “the one who is called alongside”. For three years they had walked with Jesus (or, more accurately, Jesus had walked with them) but now Jesus was leaving them. So he sends the Spirit to be with them just as he was with them.
To have the Spirit, as every Christian does, is to have Jesus.
The third profundity here is that final word “forever”. To have the Spirit is to have Jesus forever. There is not a morning that we wake up when the Spirit does not make Jesus known to us; spurring our hearts to love him, depend upon him and long for his final return. There is not an evening that we go to bed where we can doubt that we are as safe in Jesus as we can be.
All of this is grounded in Jesus’ promise to the Twelve. Maybe this is a good week to read through the whole of John 14-16 and remind yourself of just how wonderful the gift of the Spirit is. Forever.
David Ould / Senior Associate Minister
St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Parramatta
PRAY: Give thanks for God’s gift of the Holy Spirit as our Helper. Give thanks that there is never a morning when the Spirit does not make Jesus known to us, spurring us to love him and depend on him. Give thanks that there is never an evening where we can doubt that we are safe in Jesus.
Join us this Sunday for our Sunday services. We meet at 8am, 9:30am, 11am and 5pm at the Cathedral – and online at 11am. Check out out Sunday services page for more information on our face-to-face services.