As we read today, we realize what an advantage we have over Jesus’ disciples, because we understand what they didn’t. Unlike them, we know exactly what Jesus meant when He said, “In just a little while I will be gone, and you won’t see me anymore. Then, just a little while after that, you will see me again” (John 16:16). Because we do understand that Jesus was speaking of His death and resurrection, let us not overlook the amazing fact that Jesus foretold what was about to take place. How did He know? Only God could know or reveal such knowledge.
Even though Jesus was going away, He would not be leaving His disciples alone. He would send them the Holy Spirit, and amazingly, that would actually be better for them than if He remained. Jesus was limited to being in one place at a time, but the Holy Spirit could indwell every one of His followers, and He would help them. One of the ways the Holy Spirit will help us is in spreading the gospel and leading people to Jesus. He is the One who convicts people of their sin of not believing in Jesus, and of God’s righteousness and the future judgment. When we talk about those things with unbelievers, we can be certain that the Holy Spirit is helping us and convicting those with whom we speak.
Another way the Holy Spirit would help Jesus’ disciples would be by teaching them. Jesus said that He had many other things He wanted to tell them, but they weren’t ready to receive it yet. However, the Holy Spirit would pick up where Jesus left off. That is why, in the New Testament, we have the many letters written to the churches. They contain truths, given by the Holy Spirit to the apostles, which build on Jesus’ teaching.
To further comfort His disciples about His leaving them, Jesus emphasized that they had a special relationship with the Father who loved them dearly. They could go directly to Him in prayer using Jesus’ name, so Jesus’ departure wouldn’t mean the end of their communication with God. Jesus assured them that His Father wanted to answer their prayers so that their joy would be made full. The Father feels the same way about all His children, not just Jesus’ original eleven disciples. He loves us dearly!
Q. Some Christians refer to the Holy Spirit using the word “it,” speaking as if the Holy Spirit is a term for God’s power. Is this correct?
A. No, the Holy Spirit is not just a power and shouldn’t be referred to as “it.” Jesus always spoke of the Holy Spirit as a person, using the personal pronoun “He.” The Holy Spirit can be referred to as God, just as much as Jesus and the Father. To have Him live in us is to have God live in us!
Q. When the Holy Spirit wants to tell us what He has heard from Jesus or the Father, how does He communicate with us?
A. According to the record of what happened in the early church, the Holy Spirit can communicate with us in a number of ways. He can speak to us in dreams, visions, through the gift of prophecy or by using an audible voice. He can also speak to us by impressions within our spirits where He lives, and this seems to be the most common way He communicates with us. It may not be as spectacular as a vision or an audible voice, but it is just as supernatural. Our job is to learn to listen and remain sensitive to His leadings.
Application: Why not make a decision to try to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit who indwells you for a specified period of time, perhaps for a few hours or a day, and see what happens? Do you think you’ll act more or less like Jesus?