"Another Comforter"

Notes of an address on John 14:16.

W. J. Hocking.

1919 277 In John 14:3 we have the Lord's coming again in bodily presence to take His own to be with Himself; but in verse 18 we have His spiritual coming to us now. Prior and preparatory to the latter announcement, He tells of the coming of the Holy Spirit (ver. 16).

The Lord was going away from His disciples and they were therefore very sorrowful, but He tells them here that His very going would be a gain to them — during His absence He would be with them more constantly than in the days of His flesh (see John 16:7). The sisters of Bethany, when Lazarus was sick, mourned that Jesus was not there; but we never have to mourn that He is not with us in our time of trouble, for He is always at hand. Now His bodily presence was to be removed from them, but in compensation He promises to send the Holy Spirit: "I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter." These are His words to them; thus He becomes the harbinger of the Holy Ghost. John the Baptist had foretold the immediate coming of the Lord Jesus; He Himself foretells the coming of the Holy Spirit.

The Greek word here used, which may be literally translated Paraclete, means even more than Comforter. We need comfort assuredly during our journey through this world, but we need other services too; all we need, the Paraclete can and will supply.

During those three years the disciples had been with. the Lord, they had learned to turn to Him and depend on Him for everything, to come to Him in every distress. Now He was going away, and they felt desolate, but He promised to send them another Comforter, who should be to them all that He had been, and who would abide with them, not for three years only, but "for ever" — the Spirit of truth. The world would not receive Him, because "it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him," but we know Him, for the Lord said, "He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."

After the Lord's resurrection He appeared to His own, to Mary at the sepulchre, to the disciples in the upper room, to the two going to Emmaus, to the disciples at Olivet; but the world knew nothing about these manifestations: so now with the Holy Spirit. "He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." He is here to reveal Christ to us. The Lord Himself will come to us in our need — "I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you" — but it is only by the agency of the Holy Spirit that we realise His presence. We cannot tell how the Lord comes to us; we cannot explain His coming to others, but we know He does come, for we have experienced it, and it is the Holy Spirit who reveals His presence to us.

The enjoyment of these great privileges, however, is contingent upon our faithfulness and obedience. Hence we read, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him."

We know what His commandments are. "Do this in remembrance of me" is one of them. You will say this is a privilege — that it is a request which the Lord makes of us. So it is; but it is a command too, for it is the Lord who speaks — the One who has a right to command. To those who love Him and keep His commands, He promises to reveal Himself in a very special way — "I will manifest myself to him."

Judas asks how the Lord would manifest Himself  to them and not to the world and then the Lord goes further, saying "If a man love me, he will keep my word"; not His commands only are in question this time, but the whole tenor of His life. He refers to one who not merely wishes to keep His actual commands, but to please Him in everything (compare Phil. 2:3, "Let this mind be in you"). The Lord says of such a one — "My Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with Him." Thus one loving and obedient heart becomes the abode of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; the shrine of the Holy Trinity is in the heart of one that loves the Lord. But we read, "He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings."

The Holy Spirit would also work upon the memories of the disciples and revive thoughts and words of the Master (ver. 26). He also works with ourselves. Everyone who has been for any time in Christian fellowship and Christian surroundings has usually within his heart a great store of the words of Scripture and of holy associations. The Holy Spirit will often bring to our remembrance what He has said to us, in the assembly or by the Lord's servants, so that it gives us just the help we require in our time of need. The Lord said, "He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." W. J. H.