Jesus wants His people to connect with him through the Spirit. The unfortunate thing is that we constantly need reminders of this fact. Jesus has now spend several chapters reminding the disciples that they must stay with Him and he will send a Helper to guide them after He is gone. This continues in today’s chapter.
This chapter opens with a section that seems to show John’s reason for writing his gospel; to comfort the Church and remind them to keep the faith. For the last couple of weeks we have been using the words “comfort” and “peace” quite often. John even records Jesus as saying, “But these things I have spoke to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them.” (John 16:4a, NASB). John is writing this Gospel to a Church that is being persecuted and no longer accepted among the Jews in their synagogue. This must have been incredibly jarring for these new Christians. John shares the words of Christ to remind them that this has to be the way, because of who Jesus is. Since the disciples are Jesus’ followers, they should expect that they will be treated the same way (John 15:18).
“If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.”
— CS Lewis
When the Holy Spirit comes, the world will begin to understand the true meaning of sin. They may not recognize it now but “And He [the Helper], when He comes, will convict the world concerting sin and righteousness and judgement” (John 16:8, NASB). Jesus told the disciples there were things they could not understand, like because he had not died yet. The Holy Spirit, however, will teach the disciples everything that Jesus had not yet taught them. He will also be a guide for them, show them how to remain connected to Jesus and to be his disciples in the world without him. Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy” (John 16:20, NASB).
“When Christ returned to heaven, He withdrew His physical presence from our sight. He didn’t stop being with the disciples but by the ascension fulfilled His promise to be with us to the end of the world. As His body was raised to heaven, so His power and reign have spread to the uttermost parts.”
— John Calvin
The Holy Spirit is given such importance in this passage, it is sad that many within the Church forget about His existence. We claim a Trinity, but normally only speak of Father and Son. Jesus knew that his death was coming. He had referenced it many other times that very evening. He was attempting to tell the disciple that all was going to be well, they simply had to have faith. How was it going to be alright, the Holy Spirit was going to come upon them and show them the truth of everything. But Jesus did not belittle the disciples grief. He flat out told them, “You will grieve.” The Holy Spirit helped them through it, and turned their grief into joy when they realized that Jesus is alive!
It is weird to be writing about the death of Christ after we just celebrated his birth. Either that was just poor planning on my part, or something God wanted to have happen. Something I know I have been praying a lot for over this past Advent season has been that God give me a heart that anticipates His return. The Holy Spirit is a teacher, and is only able to be with us because Jesus died. I am truly grateful that I get to know Jesus and have a relationship with Him. It can be rough, and certainly gets stale, just like any other relationship. Jesus wants us to be connected with Him and the Spirit helps us do it. How’s that connection going from last week?