“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever” (John 14:15-16).
Jesus’ promise of the coming of another Advocate – the Holy Spirit at this point in John 14 fits very well in its context and comes to us very timely today. It fits very in its context because the disciples were soon getting out into ministry by themselves without their master. They will soon face persecutions from which if they are not guided, comforted and advocated for by a divine power, their ministry would not have taken ground. It also comes very timely to us because the Christian life cannot be lived without the Holy Spirit.
It was a matter of hours when Jesus would be arrested, charged and crucified, and eventually dies, consequently leading to His resurrection and ascension. I imagine what the disciples would do had there been no other comforter or advocate sent to be with them forever. Like Bishop Winnington-Ingram asked, I also imagine “where would we be, had the Holy Spirit not been sent?”
After three years of discipleship, the disciples still looked naïve of the future of their calling, as expressed in the earlier verses of this chapter. They were worried; therefore, they were in a dire need of comfort (14:1). Christ tries to comfort them yet his time has come, he had to leave them. If they were to continue the fellowship and ministry to which Christ has called them, then they needed an advocate who will be with them forever, and not only with them but one who resides in them.
In his promise of the Holy Spirit, there are two points that I would like to point us to in this passage; to love Christ is to keep (obey) his commandments—a call to duty; and we need a helper or an advocate (the Holy Spirit) to live the call to love and obey Christ positively.
To love Christ is to keep his commandments—a call to duty.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments” and again, “They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me” (John 14:15, 21).
God’s love to the world is an unconditional love, he loves the world—the entire world.
“There is nothing you can to do make God love you more! There is nothing you can do to make God love you less! His love is Unconditional, Impartial, Everlasting, Infinite, Perfect!” (Richard C. Halverson)
But those who will chose to love back the LORD are called to a duty—to keep (obey) his commandments. To love Christ is a choice but to obey him isn’t. You either choose to love him and obey his commandments or you don’t love him. There is no following without obedience to the Lord Jesus—if we love Christ, our love for Him must motivate us to not just obey him at certain points but in all things. Our love for Christ must be active, tangible and action oriented regarding His commandments. Therefore,
We need the Holy Spirit to help us live obediently the commandments of Christ.
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever” (John 14:16). The Holy Spirit as promised helps us in so many ways including these three areas:
He is our comforter, he comforts us in our troubles. There is no single Christian who will live without any troubling moments. “Mortals, born of woman are of few days and full of troubles” (Job 14:1). Yes, even the most “righteous” Christian will suffer and be troubled. “The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all… The LORD will rescue his servants; no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned,” such will rather be comforted (Psalm 34:19, 22).
The Holy Spirit is our advocate (helper, intercessor); the Holy Spirit is one who stands by ‘our side to help all the times.’ The Greek word translated here as Advocate is Paraclete, referring to “one that pleads the cause of another. (1 John 2:1) Used by Christ, (John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7) to describe the office and work of the Holy Spirit, and translated Comforter , Advocate, Helper, Intercessor. This use of the word is derived from the fact that the Jews, being largely ignorant of the Roman law and the Roman language, had to employ Roman advocates in their trials before Roman courts. Applied to Christ, (1 John 2:1)”—Smith’s Bible Dictionary.
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With the full authority of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit pleads on our behalf. He is a representative of the omni-present (all present) God who is not just with us but lives in us. “The Holy Spirit strengthens those who belong to Christ, standing beside them in support as they battle temptation, endure the trials of this world, and rebut the accusations of the devil, “the accuser” (Rev. 12:10)—Carl E. Olson.
He also is our guide; the bible often refers to us to be sojourners or our citizenship is not of this world. For this cause, we need one who will stand by us, giving us a perfect guide through this journey of life. In his Spirit inspired apostolic letter, Peter writes,
“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God” (1 Peter 2:11-12).
The apostle’s writing clearly shows that we are strangers—foreigners in this world, in need of guidance such that we don’t live like the citizens (pagans) of this this world. The Holy Spirit helps to guide us such that we can walk into the foot marks of Christ until we are united with Him who is our Lord and God who lives and reigns forever.
This morning I woke to watch a biking race through my widow. As I kept watching the race for almost an hour, I saw two guys who were standing at a junction which is a roundabout with about four directions of either an ‘exiting’ or a joining road. These men helped guide the bikers to follow the right road meant for the race, they also helped manage other users of the road, especially cars from colliding with the bikers. I imagine it would have been chaotic if these guides did not guide, some bikers may take the wrong direction and it was possible that they could collide with cars.
To help us not lose the way, we need the fullness of the Deity in the person of the Holy Spirit to be with us and in us. He helps to comfort and guide us; and advocate our cause. May we, who are called to a duty in Christ, embrace the presence of the Godhead in the person of the Holy Spirit to help us live our call to obey Christ very positively. Amen! Rev. J
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Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are taken from the New International Version (NIV). Rev. Julius Izza Tabi is a pastor in the Anglican Church of Uganda, Ma’di & West Nile Diocese. Julius served as an assistant Chaplain and lecturer at the Arua Campus of the Uganda Christin University. He is currently a candidate of Master of Philosophy in Religion, Society and Global Issues at Det Teologiske Menighetsfakultet alias the Norwegian School of Theology, in Oslo, Norway. He is an author of the Popular Triumphing Over Odds . For pastoral assistance you can contact him here and you can also help to support this site and his ministry by donating here.