Holy spirit: “another comforter”
In John chapters 14 to 16, we find Jesus, shortly before his arrest by the Jews, giving last minute instructions and comfort to his disciples. He was no longer going to be with them. They will indeed see him again after his resurrection but only temporarily, till the ascension to his Father. The fact that Jesus would go to the Father would mean that they would be left alone … except if he sent a replacement, another one to fill in for him. Except if He was coming to them in “another form” so to speak. And as we will see that’s exactly what happened! Jesus, though is no longer physically present, he is much more present than before! How? Through the Comforter, the holy spirit; this comforter truly fills in for Jesus, doing what he would be doing if he was physically present with each one of his disciples. Mentioning disciples, I’m not referring here only to the disciples that were present that night in the garden of Gethsemane. Apart from them and much more I’m referring to us! None of us have met Jesus in person, flesh and blood, as the disciples had met him. Yet, because of the Comforter, the holy spirit, we are not left without him. John 14:15-18 tells us:
“If you love me, keep my commandments. “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another comforter, to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; but you know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
Jesus Christ is speaking about the holy spirit here and describes it as another comforter. Though Jesus was leaving, he was not actually leaving them alone. He would send ANOTHER comforter i.e. somebody that would fill in for him, somebody that would do all that he was doing when he was with them, a replacement so to speak for his physical absence. Though he would no longer be physically present with them, he would be spiritually present, through the Comforter. In other words having the holy spirit is absolutely like having Jesus. And the holy spirit does for those who follow Jesus what Jesus did for his disciples when he was physically present i.e. teaches them, guides them, admonishes them, comforts them. That’s why it is called ANOTHER comforter. The first comforter was Jesus in his physical presence. Just a few days after Jesus’ ascension, the holy spirit, the second comforter, “another comforter”, the fill in for Jesus, the first comforter, came. As Barnes says in his commentary:
“Jesus had been to them a counselor, a guide, a friend, while he was with them. He had instructed them, had borne with their prejudices and ignorance, and had administered consolation to them in the times of despondency. But he was about to leave them now .. The other Comforter was to be given as a compensation for his absence, or to perform the offices toward them which he would have done if he had remained personally with them. And from this we may learn, in part, what is the office of the Spirit. It is to furnish to all Christians the instruction and consolation which would be given by the personal presence of Jesus..” (Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)
Therefore dear brother and sister in Christ: you are not left alone. Jesus is not somewhere far away from you. He is very close to you. Jesus, through the Comforter, is in you! As Colossians 1:26-27 tells us:
“the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Christ is IN YOU dear brother and sister. The comforter is in you! And why is the comforter there? To do all that Christ would do if he was physically present. Here is the ministry of the holy spirit as described by Jesus:
“But the Comforter, the holy spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”
“But when the Comforter comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, he shall testify of me.“
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is to your advantage that I go away: for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. “
Having the holy spirit is more to our advantage than even if Jesus stayed physically present on the earth!
“And when he has come, he will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father and you see me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when he, the spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak; and he will tell you things to come. he will glorify me, for he will take of what is mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are mine. Therefore I said that he will take of mine and declare it to you.”
This is the wonderful ministry and the wonderful reality of the holy spirit.
Many people do not really believe to an active in the life of the disciples holy spirit. They are thus essentially supporting that we have been left orphans with just our minds to try to figure out how to live for him! But as Jesus said: we are not left orphans! The holy spirit fills in for him, being “another comforter”, that is to say a comforter in the place of the Jesus, the first comforter.
Others again attribute to the holy spirit things that we never see Jesus doing and which have no backup in the Scripture. Are these things really done by the holy spirit? The answer is NO. What the holy spirit does is always in alignment with the Word of God. If something is not in alignment with the Word then it is not done by the holy spirit.
To close this article: Jesus going to his Father did not leave us alone. He sent us a replacement that does what Jesus would do if he was physically present with each one of us. This replacement is the holy spirit and its mission is, among others, to teach and bring into remembrance (John 14:26), instruct, guide (Acts 16:6-10) and comfort (Acts 9:31). It is not a “spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). This is the wonderful gift that the Father, because of His love, gave to those who believe in His Son and his resurrection from the dead.
“the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the holy spirit which is given unto us.”