Jesus Begins Telling His Disciples about the Holy Spirit
What makes the discourses of Jesus here in John 14-17 so important and so rich is his teaching about the Holy Spirit. Indeed, it is in this very place that we read most of what we know about the Spirit and his work, at least in the gospels. We will see this unfold in the next several devotions.
Jesus begins by informing his disciples the incredible truth that they would soon do even greater works than he has done, “because I am going to the Father.” Jesus sits at the right hand of God, first, because it is his rightful place as the exalted Son; and, second, to be our intercessor (Hebrews 7:25). Also understood here, but stated later, is that the removal of Jesus to the right hand of the Father means the coming of the Holy Spirit upon his Church, which is what the rest of the passage is about. Okay, granted, Jesus is exalted to the right hand and intercedes for us, but how have we done greater things than he? Who has raised the dead, stilled a storm, or caused the blind to see? Jesus did not mean that his disciples would do more amazing things than he did, but greater in the sense of the founding of the Church and the Spirit’s blessing upon her evangelistic efforts so that she has spread all across the globe. He also means her ministry of teaching and works of mercy that have tamed the world over the last two millennia. Greater works she would also do because of the prayers of her saints who pray “in Jesus’ name,” meaning according to his will and way. These are the greater things, and they are greater because Christ is seated at the right hand making intercession for us in heaven, and the Holy Spirit is within us, empowering us, and making intercession for us on earth.
And it is just after this that Jesus explicitly mentions the Holy Spirit, but under the titles of “Helper” (or “Advocate” or “Comforter”) and “Spirit of Truth.” He was the Holy Spirit that Jesus asked of the Father that was then sent upon the Church – the Father’s great gift to His Son, and through His Son to the Church. Jesus says, “another Helper” so that we would understand that the Holy Spirit is other than himself or the Father, the third person of the Triune God. He is the Spirit whom the world neither sees nor knows, just as it neither saw nor knew who Jesus was when he was here (John 1:10-11). But God’s people know him because he takes up residence within them. Thus, he is the Spirit who gives God’s people a love for Jesus that results in keeping his commandments. This promise still holds true: Greater things we can do, because he is at the right hand, and the Spirit is within us. Thus, we have the best “Helper” anyone could ask for.