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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Comforter Has Come
Alan Riley

In the 13th and 14th chapters of John's Gospel, Jesus attends to some important last things before He goes out to the Garden of Gethsemane and from there to the cross. Chapter 13 begins with the statement that Jesus knew the hour had come for him to leave this world and return to His Father. So, in light of that, what He did and said next were of the utmost importance.

The first thing he did was to wash the disciples feet, to reinforce the message to them that He - the Son of God - came as a humble servant and they needed to do and be the same. He then predicted His betrayal by Judas and His denial by Peter. The words from Jesus saying He would be betrayed by one of them, denied by another and put to death were understandably distressing to the disciples. So He reassured them with the beatiful words that begin Chapter 14: "Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in Me." (John 14:1, NLT).

Jesus went on to tell the disciples that they would do even greater works than He had done during His earthly ministry. Then told them that when He went away, He would send the Holy Spirit to them, Who would teach them all things and remind them of what Jesus had told them. He told them He was leaving them a gift - His peace, which is not peace that the world gives but the peace of God.

Some versions of the Bible translate the Greek word Paraclete - used here for the Holy Spirit - as "Comforter." Others translate it as "Helper." Still others as "Counselor" or "Advocate." Which one is correct? All of them. All of these titles describe the ministry of the Holy Spirit to a believer.

He is our Comforter. When our hearts are heavy and we don't even know how to pray or what to pray for, the Bible says that the Holy Spirit comes along side us. "If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves." (Romans 8:26-27, The Message)

He is our Helper. In Romans 8:26, Paul says that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. Writing to the Philippians he says, "I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance." (Phil 1:19, NIV) Writing to his beloved son in the ministry, Timothy, Paul said, "Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you - guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us." (2 Tim 1:14, NIV). The Holy Spirit help us to manifest the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives, enabling us to be more like Jesus.

He is our Counselor and Advocate. This word brings to mind a defense attorney who is pleading our case before a judge, or one who strengthens and fortifies us. Or one who guides us and advises us. "But the Counselor, 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." (John 14:26 NIV)

It is ironic and sad that one of the biggest, if not the biggest rifts in the Body of Christ in our day is over the ministry of the Holy Spirit, specifically over the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit. Whatever your feelings on the subject, you will join me in recognizing that division in the Body of Christ was certainly not God's intention when He sent the Holy Spirit to us.

No matter which side of the theological street you live on, all of us can agree that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to comfort, help, teach and counsel us as we strive to become more like Jesus.

Have a wonderful day.
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