John 14:16-17 NIV
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
Do you have any “helpers” in your life? You know, the kind of people who seem to be available, right when you need them, for some errand, some support, some time, or some strength that helps you move forward on any given day? Have you ever experienced a moment when you needed them, or someone to be available, and they simply could not be available for some reason? It’s hard; people are limited beings, making their ability to help limited as well.
To receive the Holy Spirit, is to receive the divine Helper—a permanent, indwelling advocate, encourager, guide, and support—to live and move within our hearts in even the loneliest of times. In one of the most famous “Holy Spirit” passages in the Scriptures, Jesus tells his disciples that they will receive a helper, an advocate, a parakletos—a Paraclete—one who will help them walk the journey of covenant faith, make Christ-like decisions, and draw on the power of the Holy Spirit from within. The Helper will be available to them at all times. The Helper is unlimited in presence and resource.
Let’s back up to take a peek into the emotional state of the disciples when Jesus shares the words in today’s text, taking a guess at some of their inner responses to what is occurring in front of them. In John 13, Jesus washes his disciples’ feet. “Hmm. Interesting.” He predicts a betrayal. “Ouch. That’s not good. That’s really not good, Jesus.” Then he tells Peter that he will deny him three times. “Gulp” (that one belongs only to Peter). Anxiety.
Then, chapter 14 begins with Jesus telling them their hearts shouldn’t be troubled. A storm is brewing, and they can sense it coming. Then he speaks to them of the Father’s house, and that he is “going” to prepare a place for them. Wait. Going? Going where? “I will come to take you to be with me. You know the way to the place where I am going” (v. 3b-4). Wait. What? You’re leaving? This is a very bad time to be using “leaving” language, Jesus.
That’s when Jesus speaks to the orphan-spirit: that brooding, hollowing, I’ll-be-left-alone loneliness, that is overtaking his disciples. And he longs for them to feel the closeness of the Father that he feels. Enter the Holy Spirit. “I will ask the Father,” Jesus says, and the Helper of the fearful, powerless heart will come. He will be “with you and will be in you.”
I too have often longed for Jesus to be alive and present, right here in front of me. Jesus was clear in John 16:7, “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good 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.”
Today, if you’ve known that loneliness, that longing, take the comfort Jesus was offering to his disciples, that is now fulfilled among us. The Helper is here. The Spirit is in you; guiding your heart and mind to truth. Convicting you of areas in your life in which you are missing the mark and missing his heart for you. Revealing your new name as a child of God. Showing you what to do next, where the Father is at work, and how to partner with him in the awakening of other hearts to wholeness and healing.
We are the people in whom he dwells, and the mystery of the gospel is Christ in us, “the hope of glory” (Col. 1:26-27). “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:18-19). The Holy Spirit helps us in our times of need; we are never, ever alone.
Jesus, I receive the Holy Spirit. I have known times and places where I felt left alone; and there you were, closer to me than anyone ever could be. Come, Holy Spirit, in worship I draw near to you and become aware of your presence; I put my trust in you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
What helps you become aware of the Helper living with you, and within you? Share your thoughts with someone else, and ask, “Do you have any ideas for how I could make these practices a more frequent part of my day and week?”
For the awakening,