AS WE CELEBRATE the Festival of Pentecost, in a gospel reading for the day we are reminded that Jesus spoke at some length to his disciples about the gift of the Holy Spirit. The words he used explained to them that the Counselor was to come, and that the Spirit would be their eternal companion…
“Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied.’
Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me?
The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves.
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.’” (John 14:8-17)
In this conversation the Holy Spirit is presented to the apostles as the future eternal companion of the church. Revealed then was the mystical relationship concerning the oneness of the Father and the Son. Jesus also related the mutual connection of will that was to exist between Himself and his disciples. The apostles heard their task…. to keep His commandments. With keen interest it would seem, they found the prophecy described that they will do the works that Jesus had done and more. Though Jesus earlier had said that he was going away to prepare a place for them, here the Master told them that personal conversation was to be established eternally between them. In light of this, a directional requirement was given... “If you love me, you will keep commandments.” This last is stressed even yet. Thus as followers are reminded that we are called to love God, and to love one another. If this behavior was kept, Jesus told the infant church and we ourselves today, that he would pray to the Father to give us the Counselor (In Greek called “paraclete”) as a companion forever. This last, is indeed the gift given at Pentecost.
We note that in scripture, word “paraclete” has been interpreted in legalistic terms. The Holy Spirit was expressed as a Counselor or Advocate, but also a spiritual Comforter. Therefore we can assume that the early interpreters of the Greek were brought to define the faithful role of this “alongside Stander” John described that Jesus pushed the limits of finite human comprehension and explained that the Paraclete was the “Spirit of Truth”.
We recall that John had said earlier that Jesus related, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life…” (In Greek we read… ego ami ho odos, kai ho alethia, kai ho zoe…). With this knowledge, therefore, we indeed may claim here that Jesus stood before his disciples as a human Teacher and also the divine Spirit of Truth. The two are one in the same.
We also note that Jesus related to his followers that the world could not receive this Spirit. Thus the Spirit reveals the deep truths of the faith only to His disciples. The Spirit communicated secrets that were far too deep even for apostolic understanding at the time, if it were laid upon them before the Crucifixion and Resurrection occurred. Only retrospectively, through the Spirit’s revelation and guidance, would the deep, mysterious meaning of the sacrificial act of Crucifixion… and the miraculous acceptance of God’s power in the Resurrection, reveal to the disciples that with God all things are indeed possible.
Jesus told his followers that the miraculous Spirit was to be placed upon the early church to guarantee the moral and spiritual impact of gospel declaration. These gifts would be given to them, “…because I go to my Father". He stressed then, "Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do." However, we must be aware that the qualification in this asking and receiving transaction is "that the Father may be glorified in the Son" The gift is not for self-glorification of any person, pulpit or denomination. Because of His going to the Father, the Holy Spirit was given to the whole church… so that the Father should be glorified. Through this Spirit, therefore, power and mighty works would occur throughout the church and their prayers would be made effective.
Exclusivity to Proclaim!
Therefore we note that according to apostolic record, the Holy Spirit is Christ's special gift given to the church. Jesus’ relationship to the disciples is thus selective and peculiar. The Spirit given to any living person is a power which goes far beyond influential thinking or inward feelings. The Truth is given to a person or persons… forgiving their sinfulness… and dedicating them so that they may become one of those who walk in the way and witness of the Word. The Holy Spirit given to the church at Pentecost thus fulfilled the deep and mysterious will of God’s mercy given through us to the world around us.
Take special note that Jesus told both to the disciples and we today who follow their footsteps, that in Spirit, "I will come to you" and "because I live you shall live also". This message of divine, eternal companionship became paramount for John’s churches, for they entered a period of history when the message they carried clashed greatly with the carnal world. In spite of resistance, however, the everlasting presence of the Holy Spirit guaranteed that they would yet persist. They would spread the faith. Indeed, praise and prayers would be offered continually. With petitions raised, the proclamations in Christ’s name did go forward. Now, we today who inherit this gift find that as well… if our petitions are purposed for the glorification of God… our prayers are both heard and answered.
Prompted by the Spirit to ask in this manner in the name of Jesus Christ, in spite of our human sin, this lesson tells us that we are able to plead our Lord’s merit and claim intercession before the Father. In that way, the gift of the Holy Spirit bestowed upon disciples by the Father and the Son, works in today’s world. The Holy Spirit speaks through the Word… increases the church in faith … and empowers us to do great works of healing, teaching and more. We are given the power and words to answer concerning our faith. Consequently, the church is instructed to tell others of the forgiving grace poured out to us through the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit provides us with a powerful gift of worship, praise and outreach. Today then, may the same Spirit drive us out into the world to do this great and wonderful task.