In our first sermon in this series, we considered the Holy Spirit as “The Helper." In subsequent weeks we have searched the scriptures for wisdom about the Spirit as “The Sanctifier" and “The Guide." This week we look at the Holy Spirit as "The Comforter." John's Gospel gives us this name in Jesus' Upper Room discourse along with those wonderful words about foot-washing, the last supper plus Jesus' command to love one another.
In this discourse, Jesus teaches us and John shares with us a special name for the Spirit--the Paraclete. Literally, the Paraclete is the "one called alongside." English Bible translators struggle a bit to translate this Greek term with a single word. So we get "Helper" and "Counselor" plus "Advocate" and "Comforter." The Holy Spirit is called and sent by Jesus to come alongside us to guide us and to help us and to comfort us.
One clue to appreciating God's "comforting presence" is to note the occurrence of the word "orphans" in John 14:18. Jesus, disclosing that He must must go away (to death and then to heaven), says he will not leave his followers as "orphans." In other words, he will not leave us abandoned and alone. Jesus still is Immanuel--God with us. But now He sends his Spirit to be his encouraging presence with us. The Spirit is the Presence of God for us and with us. He is God's helping, sanctifying, guiding, comforting and empowering Presence.
On Sunday we will explore how we can experience the Holy Spirit as the One God sends to help encourage us. All of us have moments and situations in which we cry out for comfort because we are hurting in some way. Likewise, we all taste discouragement and even hopelessness from time to time. God's promise to be with us is realized in the Spirit's distinctive ministry of indwelling the followers of Jesus.
Thanks be to God!
Once finalized, our weekly worship guide can be found here.
John 14:16-18, 26-28
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. 28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.