“If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans – I will come to you.”
Life is full of goodbyes. People leave. Things break. Days come and go. For each new beginning, there will be an ending, until finally this life reaches its conclusion. Perhaps the most common source of stress, anxiety and sorrow is the endless list of losses we experience. The most painful goodbyes, of course, come from death, but even the little ones hurt. My best friend moved away when I was 12. My favorite baseball player retired when I was 15. My grandmother died when I was 27. We get attached to people, things and situations, but they all eventually go away or change. And we are left to deal with emptiness in our hearts.
What Jesus promised in this passage flies in the face of normal human experience. Yes, He was going to die on the cross. Yes, He would later ascend into heaven, leaving the disciples behind. But Jesus promised that He would not “abandon” them. In fact, He promised to be with them forever through the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Advocate would take Jesus’ place in their lives, different and yet very much the same. No longer would Jesus spend time with them in the flesh, but soon the Spirit would live inside them, always present in their hearts. The final five words of Jesus’ promise may be the most surprising and important. Jesus told them, “I will come to you.” Not Jesus in the flesh, not Jesus walking and talking with them physically, but Jesus in the divine person of the Holy Spirit. There were many things the disciples struggled to understand until after the resurrection, and this must have been high on that list. We may struggle with it too, but Jesus’ words are meant to bring us comfort and peace. He is with us. The Spirit is the presence of Jesus in our hearts. He has not abandoned us “as orphans.” He has come to live in our hearts and will never say goodbye.
The Holy Spirit is a priceless gift and an ever-abundant source of power, wisdom and comfort available to every follower of Jesus. Sadly, we often fail to fully appreciate or take advantage of the Spirit’s presence. If Jesus were here today in the flesh, I’m confident that we would go out of our way to spend time with him, listen to him teach, seek his guidance and even boldly ask him for miraculous blessings. The truth is, Jesus is with us today. The Holy Spirit is the presence of Jesus, living powerfully within each of us. So, let’s spend time with the Spirit, listen to the Spirit, seek the Spirit’s guidance and even boldly ask the Spirit for miraculous blessings.
Holy Spirit, I believe You live in my heart and will never leave me alone. Teach me to listen to Your voice and to rely on the strength You give. Work in and through me to spread the love and message of Jesus to those around me. I pray in my Savior’s name. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian