John 16:4-16 Common English Bible (CEB)
4 But I have said these things to you so that when their time comes, you will remember that I told you about them.
“I didn’t say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I go away to the one who sent me. None of you ask me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Yet because I have said these things to you, you are filled with sorrow. 7 I assure you that it is better for you that I go away. If I don’t go away, the Companion[a] won’t come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will show the world it was wrong about sin, righteousness, and judgment. 9 He will show the world it was wrong about sin because they don’t believe in me. 10 He will show the world it was wrong about righteousness because I’m going to the Father and you won’t see me anymore. 11 He will show the world it was wrong about judgment because this world’s ruler stands condemned.
12 “I have much more to say to you, but you can’t handle it now. 13 However, when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you in all truth. He won’t speak on his own, but will say whatever he hears and will proclaim to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and proclaim it to you. 15 Everything that the Father has is mine. That’s why I said that the Spirit takes what is mine and will proclaim it to you. 16 Soon you won’t be able to see me; soon after that, you will see me.”
Have you ever thought about orphans? IN Golden we used to have an “Orphan Car Show”. It was for cars whose manufacturing company no longer exists. Janna has a 1957 Nash Metropolitan – an “orphan car ”. The company, Nash, who made it no longer exists.
On a much more serious note, Randy and Sue Jessen, friends of mine took several trips to Romania. He was a pastor and became acquainted with the problems in Romania. Randy and Sue were most affected by coming into contact with over-crowded orphanages. The children had lost their parents and had no one to care for them. They were barely cared for in the orphanages, and many were failing to thrive.
To be an orphan is a hard thing to deal with. Paul talks about “parents in the faith” and being a parent in faith. The disciples were losing their “parent” in faith – Jesus Christ. Life would be crashing in on them in a very short time as Jesus would be arrested, tried, convicted, and crucified. They were in desperate need of a guide, a companion.
Our series in Lent has been “The Need For …” based on chapters 13 – 16 in the Gospel of John. Jesus, in this extended time of sharing with the disciples, knew they would need many things to endure the immediate chaos, and, more importantly, things they needed to truly enter into partnership with God in transforming the world. In brief recap: Week 1 was The Need For … Cleansing – though they were followers or Jesus they would need a constant cleansing tune-up in order to keep them on the path of God. The 2nd week was The Need For … Belief – their belief in God and in Jesus Christ, and the coming Holy Spirit would be foundational to providing stability. Week 3 was The Need For … Connection – Jesus invites them to abide in him, to have a complete connection with God so they could produce fruit for the Kingdom. That connection spreads to the connection we have with each other as a means of support and encouragement. Week 4 – was The Need For … Love. – Jesus talks about how abiding in his love will generate love for all God’s children. Last week we explored The Need For … Strength – This mission for the Kingdom, this partnership with God will be littered with difficulties. Sometimes out and out persecution, and other times being seen as irrelevant. We need strength to stay the course and produce fruit for God. This week, I want us to delve into “The Need For … A Guide.” As I said last week, I had skipped over the sections on the Holy Spirit. I want to lift that thread this week. The Gospel of John records Jesus saying more about the Holy Spirit than any other Gospel.
I want to begin by reading John 14:18-21
“I won’t leave you as orphans. I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Because I live, you will live too. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them loves me. Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
Jesus says we will not be left as orphans - we will not be without the constant presence of our Lord. As the disciples are losing companionship with Jesus as they have known it He wants them to know he will still be very much with them. Did you notice the last line” Jesus says, “… I will love them and reveal myself to them.” Jesus is not talking about the post resurrection appearances he will have with the disciples. He is talking about a continuous revealing of himself and God through the Holy Spirit. Disciples need to feel him near, to “see” him in order to truly become partners with God.
In John 15:26 Jesus promises, “When the Companion comes, whom I will send from the Father – the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father – he will testify about me.” Each time Jesus mentions the Holy Spirit he refers to is as “the Companion” in the Common English Bible. Various other translations use different words like, the New Revised Standard Version uses “Advocate”; the New International Version uses “Counselor”; the King James Version utilizes “Comforter”. All four are amazing images of what Jesus has sent to us. You can hear the ring of Old Testament prophets in many of these words. Each title raises wonderful images of what Jesus is doing for us.
So, what are some of the attributes of the Holy Spirit that will truly guide us through our journey of faith?
In John 14:15-17 Jesus says,
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 I will ask the Father, and he will send another Companion, who will be with you forever. 17 This Companion is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world can’t receive because it neither sees him nor recognizes him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be with you.”
One key identifier of the Holy Spirit is the “Spirit of Truth.” Three times in these three chapters Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Truth. Think about it, while Jesus was with the disciples, they could ask questions and get clarification. Think about your parents as you were growing up. Think of the questions you may have asked. From the simple and mundane like, “where are my socks?” to more complex issues like, “How do I talk to girls?” Parents were a treasure trove of information and guidance. Jesus had been that for his disciples and those who were following him. Think about the complexities of the faith. It is interpreted by many. One great example of Jesus guidance for the disciples was in the Sermon on the Mount. At least six times in the Sermon on the Mount, chapter 5 alone, Jesus says, “you’ve heard it said … but I say to you … .” He was interpreting God’s ways for the disciples so they would know God’s intentions. God wants us to know the truth so it may set us free to be his productive disciples. Jesus knew the disciples – and us – would need an advocate, counselor – the Spirit of Truth.
The Holy Spirit has two major arenas of work as described in 16:8-16. The first, is the arena of the “world.” Jesus takes a moment to describe how the Spirit will show how the world was wrong about sin, righteousness, and judgement. This section is for another day. However, most of these chapters in John 13-16 are about what the believers will need – the disciples and us will need. This is the second arena of the Holy Spirit’s work. In verses 12-13 Jesus says, “I have much more to say to you, but you can’t handle it now. 13 However, when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you in all truth.” To us “saints” who follow, the Holy Spirit will “guide us into all truth.” The Spirit is the one to whom we can turn with our questions, our needs for clarification and direction. Listen to the key phrases in chapters 14-16: “the Spirit will be in you and will be with you” (14:17); the Spirit teach and remind (14:26); the Spirit will “testify about [Jesus] me” (15:26). Very poignantly Jesus says in 16:4, “But I have said these things to you so that when their time comes, you will remember that I told you about them.” This has been the center of our Lenten series. And again, “The Spirit takes what is mine and proclaims it to you.” (16:15). Jesus is describing “his” presence after all this happens – we will not be alone. We will have a guide!
Did you notice verse 12? “I have much more to say to you, but you can’t handle it now.” Think of the magnitude of what was going to hit the disciples. Jesus would be betrayed, arrested, tried, convicted, crucified … all in only a few hours. They were going to need that guide in very practical ways.
An analogy struck me. Think about a senior in High School. For twelve years they have been given close instruction and guidance. “Don’t forget to turn in that assignment.” “Mid-terms are coming, study a little extra.” With graduation – however that may look this year – they may choose to go on in their education. A Trade School, Community College, or University. One of my great learnings my first year in college was, “professors don’t hold hands!” The work is up to you. You are on your own.
With faith, it is up to us to find the influences that will guide and strengthen us in the right directions. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth is absolutely necessary for us.
When I was a child I grew up with HO gauge trains. You know, thos little trains. I had track and a layout board. There was landscaping, and trees, and houses, and streets and cars – you get the idea. At the electrical plug there was 110 volt power, and it was way too much for that little engine. So I also had a transformer. I plug the transformer into the wall, and the train set into the transformer. It reduced the power to a manageable level. I could add a little power for more speed or a heavy load, but it never came close to the 110 volts. The Holy Spirit is like that for us. The Spirit transforms the magnitude of what God wants us to be and do into manageable steps. It transforms the big picture into something smaller, and more manageable.
We all have “The Need for a Guide.” Praise God that he has sent his very presence in the Holy Spirit. That Spirit leads us through the tough times- - like now. The Spirit teaches us what we need to know. The Spirit leads us when we are on unknown paths. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 2:12, says, “What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.” Let the Spirit guide you every day. Amen.
Pastor Paul Grossman