“All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me….But very truly I tell you, it is good for you that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:1-5, 7)
Jesus is warning his disciples of things that will happen when he leaves them, and tells them that he will not leave them alone; he is going to send them the Advocate — The Holy Spirit. This is not the first time Jesus tells his disciples about the Holy Spirit.
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:25-26)
I often separate Scripture by chapters, but John chapters 13-17 is really just one long conversation between Jesus and his disciples, but mostly with Jesus telling them everything they will need to be prepared for because he realizes that it is time for him to leave this world, and so the time has come for him to prepare his disciples for his departure. He washes their feet to teach them to serve each other; he comforts them, and assures them that even though he is going away, he is preparing a place for them so that one day they can go where he is going; he reminds them that he is the only way to the Father; he promises them that he will send The Holy Spirit to take his place; he tells them that they must remain in him like a branch must remain on a vine to bear fruit; he warns them that they will be hated and persecuted; and once again, in chapter 16, he reassures them he will send someone to them — the Advocate, the Spirit of Truth — The Holy Spirit. So, twice in one conversation, Jesus tells his disciples about the Holy Spirit. This must be pretty important.
Jesus needs them to know that things will not be easy for them; they will be persecuted, they will be killed for their faith, but he really, really needs them to know that they are not alone. He is going to send them the Advocate. Some translations of Advocate are “Comforter” (KJV), “Counselor” (NIV), and “Helper” (NASB), according to Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible dictionary. Jesus was going away, and things were going to get very difficult, but Jesus was going to send one who could meet their every need.
The disciples didn’t quite get it at first, but when they received the Holy Spirit, they remembered what they had been told, just like Jesus told them they would. Peter addresses the crowd, from the prophet Joel, “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.” (Acts 2:17-18). “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39)
Growing up, I learned all about the Father and the Son, but I never heard anything about the third member of the trinity, the Holy Spirit. When I had finally heard about the Holy Spirit, I didn’t quite understand how he works; but then, I experienced the Spirit of God for myself. Nothing has been the same since. Why would we hide such a promise? How can we be effective Christians if we are not relying on the power, comfort, counsel, and help of the Holy Spirit? It is a hard world we live in, we face troubles, we lack peace at times… Life. Is. Hard. But Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Karisa Madera Executive Assistant Central Church of Christ Del Rio, TX