Summary: The presence of the Holy Spirit is a promised blessing based on God’s grace.
Imagine you were one of the twelve disciples. You just heard Jesus – your best friend – tell you that he was leaving soon. You’d be perplexed to say the least. How could Jesus say that he would leave when he promised to always be with you? The disciples must have wondered what all of this meant.
How about you? Do you struggle with these words too? Many do. People wonder – perhaps you’re one of them – why Jesus had to leave. Life would be so much simpler if Christ had remained on earth, then we wouldn’t struggle with doubts or questions. Right? Wrong! Christ Jesus had to return to heaven so that our salvation might be complete. He did this not to complicate things, but to comfort us. In fact, in our text we find that JESUS GIVES US A COMFORTING PROMISE. 1) Jesus promises to care for us, and 2) Jesus promises to be with us.
1) Jesus Promises to Care for Us
Everybody likes to feel needed. Everybody likes to feel cared for and loved. And now for a small sum of money, you can pay people to tell you those things! In many parts of the country this very weekend select groups of people are meeting; hoping to find some secret power that will develop all their hidden abilities and bring them to a new level of life experience. One advertisement for such a seminar reads as follows: “Start the major love affair of your life by spending a weekend with yourself. Take two days out of your life to spend just with you. Discover the most fascinating, wondrous, magnificent person you will ever know – yourself – in an experience you’ll never forget.” Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? That ad makes some bold claims. It promises wonderful results. You may be wondering, “What’s the catch?” Well, the cost of this particular seminar – a mere $250 per person!
It seems seminars, retreats, and self-help groups are en vogue right now. You can find groups of people meeting for all sorts of reasons. Now, I’m not knocking weekend retreats or seminars. In a sense, the Gospel reading for today is an account of a first century retreat, a special seminar, which Jesus conducted for his disciples. In John 13, we find Jesus telling his disciples about true greatness. He says greatness is found in humility and service to others. Then Jesus demonstrated that greatness by washing his disciples’ feet. Jesus told his disciples about a radical concept: Christian love. This was the very heart and core of Christ’s love shown his entire life. This love would find its culmination on the cross as Jesus sacrificed himself for us. In order to do that, Jesus had to give up everything – the very glories of heaven – so that we might have a home with him in paradise. Jesus gave himself wholly to his Father’s will. He dedicated himself to every law, decree, and command his Father ever uttered. He did this for us, so that we might find favor in God’s eyes. Everything Christ Jesus accomplished was for us. And this was all part of God’s plan to provide comfort and healing, care and mercy.
Now in chapter 14:15 Jesus expands on God’s plan of salvation. He promises to send another Person, whom he calls the “Counselor.” Jesus was promising to send the Holy Spirit. Jesus was foretelling the events of Pentecost. He did this to comfort his disciples. He knew they would be confused as they witnessed his crucifixion and death. Jesus wanted to let his disciples know that he would not forsake them. He cared for them. And so he makes a promise. He would send the “Counselor.” Now, the original Greek word Jesus uses was “Paraclete.” That’s the word we translate “counselor.” That Greek word has the idea of one who walks along side of you, encouraging and instructing. It’s a picture of someone who cares.
I can’t think of a better way for Jesus to describe God’s care and concern than his description of the Holy Spirit. It reminds me of when my father first taught me how to drive. He was a “paraclete, a counselor” of sorts. He sat in the seat next to me, pointing out the gas from the brake pedal, showing me the proper way to grip the steering wheel. He instructed and encouraged. Sure, my dad pointed out my mistakes, but he always did with care and concern. As a counselor, the Holy Spirit comforts, guides, and instructs. He does this with the Word of God. First, the Holy Spirit shows us that we need a Savior. The Bible tells us that we cannot love ourselves into heaven. No amount of self-esteem can earn salvation. The power of positive thinking cannot remove sin from a guilty conscience. A pow-wow with the Holy Spirit is needed. Jesus promised this to his first 12 disciples and he promises it to us.