John 15:26 NIV
When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.
Saying the Nicene Creed is one of my favorite things to do. I mean it. Every morning I sit down in my prayer chair (I call it that because prayer and worship are what happens most frequently on that piece of furniture). As part of my daily regimen, I recite or sing a few choice pieces that align my heart to faith and trust. The Nicene Creed is one of those.
In that creed, the wording chosen highlights what is said about the Holy Spirit in John 15:26. In describing the Holy Spirit, the Nicene Creed says “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds . . .” Theologians have wrestled with the ideas around this part of the creed for a long time, and historic theological wranglings are not our focus for today.
What I am interested in, and what I think we should all be interested in, is that the Spirit is sent to us “from the Father,” and “goes out from the Father” according to this little verse in John. In other words, the Spirit comes to us from the very heart—the loving, essential nature—of the Father. When something is sent, there is always an intended recipient.
The follower of Jesus is that recipient.
This beautiful chapter begins with Jesus using the metaphor of vines and branches to emphasize our union with him, as well as the Father’s work of tending this sacred garden of relationship. Terms like remaining, abiding, pruning, fruit, and other words emerge to anchor us, establish us, settle us, and clarify for us what it means to remain in the love of Jesus . . . remain in the love of the Father . . . and remain in the love of one another.
Then, Jesus gives the challenge that follows the encouragement. He reminds them that the world will hate them, and they should see that as par for the course when following Jesus and doing the work of the Father. Their job is not to provoke that hatred unnecessarily by acting strange for strangeness’ sake; rather, they will be seen as strange, and hated, because of the way they choose to be human in the world.
Through all of their abiding, trials, and troubles, according to the last phrase, the Spirit will do a very particular job—in you and through you. The Spirit of truth will testify about, witness to, tell the story—of Jesus. Again and again.
Jesus is the Way as we know (John 14:6). He is also the Life. But in the middle of it all, in the middle of the hard choosing of the way that leads to life, we’ll need the Spirit of truth to keep us on track. Jesus is the Truth that sets us free from our broken thinking and feeling on a daily basis (John 8:31-32).
The Spirit, all along the way, will continue to reveal Jesus. If Jesus is being hidden, obscured, mocked, or diminished, the Spirit is not behind it. Shake it off. The Spirit reveals who Jesus is, what he is for, and why he does what he does. The Spirit helps us understand the reasons behind the hard work of transformation going on in our lives. The Spirit keeps us living in union, in abiding love, with Jesus.
The Holy Spirit, sent from the Father, reveals Jesus.
Jesus, I receive the Holy Spirit. Reveal to my heart today what it means to remain in you, abide in you, to dwell in you. Come, Holy Spirit, I am prepared to see Jesus again, to receive a fresh revelation of my Lord and Leader, for the purpose of my transformation. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Have you ever testified to someone about Jesus, telling your story and inviting them into the same kind of awakening that you experienced? Is there someone you are praying for right now, a friend, family member, or neighbor, who is ready for the Spirit to testify about Jesus through you?
For the awakening,