“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:15–17
As I think about Jesus’ efforts to comfort and reassure the disciples regarding his imminent departure I’m forced to the conclusion that in many ways we never change as we mature form childhood to adulthood.
Children are very attached to their parents, as they should be. Parents are an essential ingredient for security as regards to every need the child has: food, safety, comfort, companionship, home, family, etc. When the parents are absent all this is threatened. So what do parents do when they’re going to be absent from their children? First they promise them that they’re going to come back, and secondly they reassure them with a description of how they’ll be cared for while they’re gone. Frequently these assurances will be combined with reminders of responsibilities and instructions for the child to obey while the parent is gone. All this prepares the child for effectively coping with their parents absence
Jesus uses these same elements in his reassurances to his disciples. The first one he employed in his promise at the beginning of John chapter fourteen, “Let not your heart be troubled … I will come again.” The second element, how we’ll be cared for while he’s gone, is brought into the picture in our focus text. This second element, together with his instructions regarding what they’ll do in his absence, comprises the majority of Christ’s counsels to his disciples in the final hours before he’s taken from them.
Our focus text introduces Christ’s choice for a caregiver while he’s away from us.
Notice that Jesus calls him “another Helper”; other translations read “another comforter.” I’d like to focus on the word “another” for a minute. This word’s significant because it’s saying that what’s promised is similar to, or just like, something or someone you’re already familiar with. Jesus is the helper they’re afraid to be separated from and he’s telling his disciples that the Helper they’ll be getting will be just like he is.
Another thing I want to point out is that repeatedly throughout our focus text the Helper is referred to with the pronoun “he.” The word “he” indicates a person not an impersonal thing. A few years ago I studied every reference to the Holy Spirit in the Bible, and didn’t find a single time in which the pronoun “it”, or an equivalent of it, was used to refer to the Holy Spirit. Consistently, throughout scripture, the Holy Spirit is referred to as “he.”
Jesus didn’t leave us alone, unprotected, and unprovided for when he left us to begin the next stage of his labors for our salvation. He left us someone as capable as himself to look after us.
To often we try to cope with our separation from Christ without turning to and relying on the Holy Spirit. This is a critical error on out part. We desperately need the strength, resources, and comfort the Spirit’s personal presence provides if we’re to face life’s challenges as the over comers we’re called to be.
Thank you Jesus for giving us your Spirit. Teach us, Spirit, to rely on you and get from you the strength, comfort, and guidance we need.