As people grow older, they spend more time thinking about the legacy they will leave behind. They ponder how they will be remembered, and what they will hand down to those coming after them. But more valuable than our earthly legacy is the relay of the truths that we hold dear. As the Apostle John said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (III John 1:4)
At this point in John’s Gospel, Jesus was hours away from His crucifixion and death. The ministry of the gospel was being handed over to the disciples. What would they do with this great inheritance? What assurances did they need? What promises would they need to cling to in the days ahead? Who would guide and enable them with Jesus gone? Jesus gave the disciples (and us) some wonderful prospects about the Spirit’s coming.
First we see that we have the Spirit’s presence (16-18). The Holy Spirit is given two identifying names by our Lord: Comforter and Spirit of Truth. Comforter is “parakletos” and can be translated helper, encourager or advocate. The Spirit comes alongside us to help us. The Spirit of Truth is related to Jesus, the Truth and the Word of God (John 14:6). The Holy Spirit cannot be associated with lies and never leads us to do anything that is contrary to the revealed Word of God. The world failed to recognize Jesus and they still fail to recognize the Holy Spirit’s working.
The Holy Spirit abides in the believer. Jesus guided and taught the disciples but He was going to leave them. The Spirit of God would come to them and dwell in them. He is “another Helper” (allos) meaning, another of the same kind. The Spirit of God is not different from the Son of God for both are God. The way we treat the Holy Spirit is the way we treat the Lord Jesus. The believer’s body is the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (I Cor 6:19-20). Jesus said in verse 18 that He would not leave us as orphans, alone, abandoned, helpless and hopeless. Wherever we go, God is with us through the Holy Spirit.
Then secondly, we have the Father’s word (19-24). Verse 19 focuses on the resurrection and post-resurrection appearances of Christ to His disciples and other believers. Verse 20 tells us Jesus will return to Heaven as the exalted Head of the church and will send the Spirit so that the members of the body will be joined to their Head in a living union. We are now united to Christ by the indwelling Spirit. Note the repetition of the word “love” (21). If we treasure the Word and obey it, then the Father and Son will share their love with us and make their home in us. When a sinner trusts Christ, he is born-again and the Spirit immediately takes up residence and bears witness that he is a child of God. As the believer yields to the Father, loves the Word, prays, and obeys, there is a deeper relationship with the Father, Son and Spirit. Salvation means we are going to heaven, but submission means that heaven comes to us. One of the best ways to soothe a troubled heart is to bathe in the Word of God which reveals the love of God.
Finally, we have the promise of peace (25-31). “Shalom” (peace) is a precious word to Jewish people. It means more than the absence of conflict, war or distress; it means wholeness, health, security, even prosperity. When you are enjoying God’s peace, there is joy and contentment. But God’s peace is not like the peace that the world offers. The world bases its peace on resources, while God’s peace depends on relationships. To be right with God means to enjoy his peace. Unsaved people enjoy peace when there is an absence of trouble. Christians enjoy peace despite trouble because of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Why rejoice because Jesus was returning to the Father (28)? His ascension would make possible His wonderful intercessory ministry on our behalf as our great High Priest (Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:14-16). We have the Spirit within us, the Savior above us, and the Word before us! What tremendous resources for peace! When Jesus said, “My Father is greater than I” (28) He was not denying His equality with God the Father, or He would have been contradicting himself (10:30). Jesus refers to His incarnation when He voluntarily limited Himself to humanity. He laid aside the independent exercise of His divine attributes and submitted Himself to the Father. In that sense the Father was greater than the Son. When the Son returned to heaven, all that He had laid aside was restored once again (17:1, 5).
“There is no peace for the wicked, says the Lord” (Isaiah 48:22). Turmoil is the reality of this fallen world. Years ago, historians calculated that in the previous 3500 years, the world had seen less than 300 years of peace (Will and Ariel Durant The Lessons of History, 1968, p. 81). It is estimated that in the last five and a half millennia, more than 8,000 peace treaties have been broken, and more than 14,000 wars fought with a combined total of about four billion casualties. Global peace is elusive! The good news of the gospel is that the war between the sinner and God can end because peace that ends the war was purchased by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.