Summary: How the Holy Spirit Helps 1) He comforts 2) He convinces
It’s usually just a tiny white pill. It tastes slightly bitter but then again you’re supposed to swallow it not chew it. In under an hour after taking the pill that headache of yours should disappear. Aspirin is pretty amazing isn’t it? It’s a cheap and seemingly reliable painkiller that’s been around since the beginning of the 20th Century though its qualities were already known in the 5th Century B.C. You know aspirin works, but do you know how it works? Aspirin is an acid (acetylsalicylic acid) that stops cells from making prostaglandin - a chemical that helps the brain register pain. Knowing how aspirin works will keep us from abusing it. For example if you break your arm, you might think: “I’ll just pop some aspirin and get better. In fact, the more aspirin I take the faster I should heal.” It doesn’t wok that way. Aspirin doesn’t make you better it only makes you feel better. Aspirin simply interferes with the pain signals that your nerves send to your brain (everyday-chemistry.suite101.cos). In fact taking lots of aspirin is not good for you. It eats away at the lining in your stomach!
Although he doesn’t come in the form of a tiny white pill, the Holy Spirit is a helper to fallen mankind and we don’t have to worry about overdosing on him. How exactly does the Holy Spirit help us? Finding this out will help us appreciate and rely on the Holy Spirit more.
Jesus spoke the words of our text on Maundy Thursday - the night Judas would betray him. Our text begins with Jesus saying: “I am going to him who sent me” (John 16:5). Upon hearing Jesus’ announcement that he was going away, the disciples were too stunned to say anything. It’s the kind of shock you might experience if a well-liked pastor suddenly hands in his resignation. A pastor resigning from his office is rarely prompted by good events. Likewise the disciples wondered what Jesus’ words meant for them. It certainly couldn’t be good. But Jesus went on to say to them: “6 Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away” (John 16:6, 7a).
How could Jesus’ departure be good for the disciples? A solider fighting on the front lines may think the same thing of his comrade who quietly slips away during the heat of battle. He will resent that soldier until he sees him leading a squadron of tanks to the rescue. That soldier hadn’t abandoned them after all. Instead he had risked his life to bring help by squirming through enemy lines. Jesus wasn’t leaving his disciples to bring help, however, for he was the “help” the heavenly Father had sent. So where was he going? Jesus was going back to his heavenly Father but the way back was through the cross of Calvary. So like a soldier who slips away from the front lines, not to run and get help, but to lure the machine gun fire his way so his comrades can escape, Jesus climbed the cross of Calvary to draw God’s wrath against sin away from us and onto himself. Yes, Jesus’ departure from the disciples was a good thing. Had Jesus remained with them, he never would have won forgiveness. He never would have defeated death. Jesus would be no good to us then, just another guru who spoke some neat parables.
So instead of weeping, the disciples should have been rejoicing. Finally, the time had come for God to complete his plan of salvation. But because they failed to ask Jesus what he meant when he said he was leaving they were sad, frightened, and confused. Friends, when we fail to inquire God’s Word to help us make sense of life and what lies ahead of us, we shouldn’t be surprised if our days are filled with sadness and confusion too.
But being the loving savior that he is Jesus wanted to offer his disciples some comfort. So he made it known that while he would be visibly (though not physically) leaving them, he would in turn send the Holy Spirit to be their helper. What good would the Holy Spirit be to the disciples? Listen to Jesus’ words: “…when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you” (John 16:13, 14).
The Holy Spirit would help the disciples by bringing them comfort. He would do this by causing the disciples to remember everything that Jesus had told them (John 14:26) and by guiding them in all truth. He would also tell them of things yet to come. What a comfort this is to us! When we read the Bible we can be certain that God himself speaks to us though it was men like Peter and John who wrote what we read. Peter and John only wrote what the Holy Spirit guided them to write.