“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.” (John 15:26-27)
These passages from the gospel of John are a little confusing. Both because the wording of the translation is a little confusing, and because the writer of the gospel of John seems to be talking (or has Jesus talking) in riddles and mysteries. I will attempt to pierce through the muddle and put it in plain speech – not that I assume, beloved reader, you cannot parse out and understand it yourself; but if we are to carry the message and good news of Christ, we need to state it in simple and plain ways.
Jesus is telling his disciples that both they and the Spirit of Truth will testify. But the Spirit does not speak directly in a verbal way but encourages and inspires us, humanity to speak.
“But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them. I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts.”(John 16:4-6)
The writer of the gospel of John portrays a Jesus who was both human and divine – both at the same time. The Jesus of the gospel of John nurtures along the disciples, explaining things in what seems to be clear ways, but always with the aura of mystery and spiritual density. In point of fact, other gospels do have the disciples asking where Jesus is going.
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.(Verses 7-9)
Why, one might ask, cannot Jesus and the Advocate not be in the same place? Some triune God-believers have this idea because only one aspect of the God-self can be present at any time. I cannot speak for the writer of the gospel of John, but this maybe why he has Jesus say this. And it goes along with the writer of the gospel that he feels that those not part of Jesus’ followers could not and do not understand Jesus. Furthermore, that the “ruler of this world” is the aspect of sin we call Satan.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (Verse 12-15)
Apparently the writer of the gospel of John does not see the Spirit of Truth as a separate entity but an outpouring of Jesus and the God-self into the world. Or maybe the phrasing is simply to emphasis that the Spirit is not an independent Being but part of the corporate God (meaning all the Lord is in all the roles and aspects of God). You can see with the theological denseness comes in.
Tomorrow we will look at what actually happened when the Spirit came. But what is most important – more important than the theology/philosophy/policy and the history that is set down by the writers of the bible – is how you encounter the Spirit beloved reader. May the Spirit speak to you in ways that you can easily understand. Selah!