Jesus knew his time with the disciples was drawing to a close and His journey to the cross was ever near. Soon he would be betrayed, arrested and taken away for trial. Though Jesus knew what was yet to come, it doesn’t quite appear in this passage that the Disciples have caught on yet. This is not uncommon in John’s Gospel as Jesus is often speaking of the spiritual meaning and the disciples confuse it with something physical. One would think after 3 years of journeying with Jesus that the disciples would have started to see the wheel turning in motion and begin to understand what was to come and what was being promised to them.
In these last moments Jesus has with the disciples, one would think his words would be filled with comfort and encouragement. In the beginning of John 16, Jesus speaks of the grief, trials and tribulations the disciples will face in the future once they are on their own. The disciples are not yet fully aware of all that will occur or how drastically their lives are about to change and Jesus’ words to them probably sound like a riddle they can’t quite solve.
Even with all the unpleasant things they are hearing, Jesus speaks assurance to them in verses 12-15 promising that though difficulties are coming their way, they will not be alone and they will be equipped to live into the calling and mission they were invited to when Jesus first said “Come. Follow Me.” The words of that invitation from Jesus were probably a soft and distant memory to the disciples as they were hearing pieces of their fate from Jesus in the present moments.
The promise of the Holy Spirit is good news. Apart from the truth the Holy Spirit provides, the disciple’s calling and fate looked impossible, grim and hopeless. With the Holy Spirit promised to them, they will be able to go into all the world and share the Glory of God through Christ Crucified, Risen and Ascended. They will be bearers of good news and hope to people who have not yet seen and heard of the transforming love of Christ and the gift of salvation will be available to all.
Though the disciples had been journeying with Jesus for 3 years and had witnessed many things, there had to be moments where they felt powerless or unworthy in their calling. There were many times Jesus performed miracles or taught and the disciples missed the main point or focused on something different. The gift of the Holy Spirit would complete their calling as though they had previously seen and experienced the work Jesus did, they would now be equipped to go forth in the Spirit of Truth to do the same work Jesus had shown them all along. The Holy Spirit would guide the disciples and help them to be in the right frame of focus to proclaim the message of Hope and Eternal Life.
I have been investing in the people of my congregation for over 7 years. Together we are slowly and surely learning what it means to be attentive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and what our response should be in how we proclaim the Good News in our greater community and beyond. Sometimes this calling is overwhelming, daunting or seemingly impossible because we get caught up with what life throws our way and like the disciples, we may not always be in tune or aware of the deeper work at hand being done through the work of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we doubt ourselves or feel unworthy of the calling we’ve been invited to be a part of.
Yet there are times we have witnessed the Holy Spirit moving and have been a part of divine encounters and moments that we couldn’t have orchestrated. In those moments we have seen God Glorified and all it took was being present and attentive to the Holy Spirit’s leading.
My prayer for this week as a Pastor and a disciple is not to let doubt and temporary circumstances distract me from what the Holy Spirit is doing and wants to accomplish. Amen.