“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever” (John 14:16).
Jesus offered these words of comfort to His troubled disciples as His time on earth neared its end. Despite the gruesome shadow of crucifixion looming ahead, Jesus paused to reassure this eclectic group of students that their final exam would be an open book test of what they had seen and heard during the past three years. Help was on the way from heaven! Soon, the graduates of this Holy Land field trip would stand gazing into the sky watching history in the making as Jesus ascended back to heaven. Enter the Helper, the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus had promised. The disciples may have been thinking, “What was it that Jesus said, again?” as He vanished from their sight.
Obviously, Jesus knew these guys hadn’t learned all there was to know about God in their three-year crash course. But, how could they? God is infinite. There was so much more yet to learn. Jesus continued His introduction of the Holy Spirit, saying, “that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you” (John 14:17).
Let’s stop here for a moment and soak in what Jesus is telling His anxious disciples. Jesus indicates their Helper is none other than the third person of the Triune Godhead, the Spirit of truth. It’s akin to Jesus being sent here by the Father. In other words, God sent Himself for this task, as well. Nothing against substitute teachers, but He didn’t delegate this role to one of His angels. Notice the adjective another is used here by Jesus who, Himself, has never quit helping His disciples to this very day. Also, the term Helper can be translated intercessor. Paul gives us a very good look at the intercessory roles of both the Holy Spirit and Jesus when it comes to prayer (Romans 8:26-27, 34).
And how can we overlook the word forever that woefully attempts to measure God’s timelessness into something that we can comprehend? But there it is—forever—to describe the staying power of God’s indwelling Spirit. Jesus is the truth so He can authoritatively identify the Spirit of truth. It’s reminiscent of John the Baptist’s proclamation upon positively identifying Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36). Jesus tells His disciples why the world cannot receive the Holy Spirit: because it doesn’t behold Him or know Him, as they do in an abiding relationship. No matter how far the vagabond disciples ventured to spread the Gospel, their true home would be a Spirit-filled heart.
Next up, Jesus says, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18). This harkens back to the opening discourse of the chapter when Jesus breaks the news to His disciples about what’s about to happen and what will result from it. Jesus is going away on a mission trip to build a custom dwelling place for them in heaven. After all, why wouldn’t He put His carpentry or stone masonry skills to good use again? Jesus wasn’t one to waste effort on “dwellings” that would remain empty. He was coming back… they could rest assured of that fact!
Dropping down to Verse 26, Jesus resumes introducing the Holy Spirit to the forlorn disciples. Jesus is giving the disciples more than just a pre-game pep talk or huddle diagramming plays on a scroll. Instead, Jesus is laying the very foundation for the church age and the disciples’ role in it. Once again, history is unfolding before their very eyes. Here, Jesus confirms, by name, that the Helper is indeed the Holy Spirit, clearing up any lingering doubts among the team of twelve (soon to become eleven). Note that the Father will send His Spirit in Jesus’ name. This takes us further back to God’s “audible” signal to John the Baptist, when he “beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven; and He remained upon Him” (John 1:32). “He” being the third Person of the Trinity—not a substitute covering for Jesus until He returned but instead helping to establish an ideal learning environment for all disciples: God’s Word, God’s Spirit, and prayer. And the Spirit is no ordinary teacher for “He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26b). What a tremendously loving gift from the Father!
Help from heaven has come from all three Persons of the living Godhead. Each working in concert to accomplish the perfect will of the Father. The following stanzas of the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” help to remind us of this teamwork:
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee; Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea; Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27).
The incomparable peace of God provides rest for the soul, relief for the weary and results in fruit of the Spirit. Paul later summed it up with these words, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Be content and reconciled to God!
Yes, help from heaven has arrived for every believer humbly enrolling in God’s discipleship classes, turning off their man-made smart devices long enough to turn on their God-given heart, soul, mind, and strength, “trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord” (Ephesians 5: 10), walking wisely, making the most of their time here on earth, understanding the Lord’s will (not merely knowing it) and being Spirit-filled (Ephesians 5: 15-18). In short, to quit kicking against the goads of resistance to the Spirit’s loving nudges in God’s direction.Help is available at a moment’s notice for every unbeliever who quits pushing away the Holy Spirit’s invitation to accept Christ as Savior. Pray to that end and trust Him no matter what you and those you love—or should love—are going through in this troubled world.
“The steadfast of mind Thou wilt keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in Thee. Trust in the LORD forever, For in God the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock” (Isaiah 26:3-4).
Alan Summers, GBC Elder
All Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB), 1975 edition.
Holy, Holy, Holy; words by Reginald Heber, 1826; public domain.