Summary: What A Friend We Have in the Holy Spirit !) He comforts; 2) He convinces
The favorite hymn, “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” has brought comfort to many people. In that hymn we’re reminded how Jesus bears all our sins and griefs, and how we can turn to him in prayer for anything that’s on our heart. Jesus is indeed a friend! But on this Pentecost Sunday we’ll be reminded that we have another, just as trusted friend in the Holy Spirit. We’ll learn that he’s our friend because he comforts and he convinces.
Jesus spoke the words of our text on Maundy Thursday - the night Judas would betray him. Our text begins with a bombshell. Jesus declared: “I am going to him who sent me…I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away” (John 16:5, 7a). 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 Dad suddenly announced at the dinner table that he was going away.
How could Jesus’ departure be good for his disciples? If you’re doing yard work on a hot day, you’re not going to think very kindly of the sibling who slips away while you’re still busy pulling weeds. You would feel resentful that you’ve been left behind to finish the yard work. But your attitude would change if that same sibling came back armed with a power tool to take over and finish the chore much more quickly than you would have been able to do otherwise. Likewise Jesus wasn’t ditching his disciples; he was setting off to save them. Yes, Jesus was going back to the heavenly Father but to get there he would have to go through the cross of Calvary first. Had Jesus remained with his disciples as they wanted him to 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 of 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 comfort the disciples by causing them 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.