Summary: Who or what is this Holy Spirit that Jesus promises the apostles just hours before he was arrested? This message looks at the Promise of the Spirit.
It wouldn’t be long, and he knew it. For three years he had taught throughout Israel, for three years he had healed the sick and fed the hungry. For three years he pointed people to the Kingdom of God, but the time was coming, it wouldn’t be long now, and he knew it. The end was in sight, it was time for the chapter to close on his earthly ministry. But how would he explain it to his friends? How would he explain that he was leaving? Would they feel deserted, betrayed? Would they be able to see that there was a much bigger plan a much longer story then they could presently see?
Our scripture this morning was John chapter 14. It was just hours before the arrest of Christ, the group had eaten what we call “the Last Supper”, had posed for the group photo, you know what Peter said at the end of the Last Supper? “Hey everyone, you need to be on this side of the table if you want to be in the picture.”
That was free, and now Jesus was explaining the events that were about to happen. Trying I’m sure to ease their fears, to let them know that whatever happened that he was still in control and that it was all part of the plan. I’m not sure that he was all that successful.
Most of all he wanted them to know that he wasn’t leaving them alone. Really isn’t that a fear that we all have? The fear of being deserted, being left to our own devices. Lord Byron made this statement concerning growing old: “What is the worst of woes that wait on age? What stamps the wrinkle deeper on the brow? To view each loved one blotted from life’s page, And be alone on earth, as I am now.”
And so, it was almost an “I have bad news and I have good news statement.” Jesus told them that the time had come that he had been telling them about when he would have to die, but in the same breath he assured them “You Are Not Alone”
This is our second week of our “Pinkie Swear: The Promises of Jesus” and last week we began with Jesus’ promise to give us rest. This wasn’t a rest from physical labour or the daily work of life. Instead, it was a spiritual rest and an emotional rest.
The passage read this morning was Jesus’ promise to his disciples that he would not leave them alone and that same promise if for us today. The promise that even though he wouldn’t be here in a physical form that the Holy Spirit would be here to give us the guidance and comfort that we need in our day to day life as Christ Followers.
A number of years ago we received a newsletter from friends of ours who are
translators in an unnamed Asian country. We could tell you where they are at but because of security concerns if we told you then we’d have to kill you.
In the letter, our friends who we will call Rick and Sue, mainly because that’s their names, spoke about the difficulty they had in translating the book of Acts because in that particular dialect there was no word for Holy Spirit and the concept seemed to be beyond translation.
Which raises the question “How can you translate a book without a term for the main character?” The story of John Reid would have been simply another western if he hadn’t been named. . . the Lone Ranger.
And so the translators looked into the original Greek along with similar languages in the region and they tried, “God’s Good Wind” “God’s Breath” or “God’s Good Spirit.” But none of those worked, people thought they were talking about a great sailing day or just thought the concept of God’s breath as being bizarre. The people had no general term for “Spirit” they had terms for specific bad or evil spirits but nothing for a good or benevolent spirit. They tried using a more generic word, but people understood that as meaning “to have a good attitude.”
After a lot of work and prayer they came up with the phrase “God’s Perfect Spirit” and it worked. Sue said that suddenly the Holy Spirit wasn’t an attitude or force but a person, a part of the Trinity.
Now most of us don’t have a problem with the term the Holy Spirit. But do we really understand who He is and what He does? In the scripture that was read for us earlier, Jesus is telling the disciples that his time on earth is coming to an end, and it is there that we receive the promise of the Holy Spirit in our lives.