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A Comforter Better Than Any Pastor

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Text:  John 16:5- 33


            So that we would not be taken by surprise, Jesus warned His disciples that last, intimate night: “They will persecute you and kill you because of Me.”  Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles wrote that in the latter days the intensity of hostility would worsen towards Christians.  We’re already witnessing the progression.  Are these, then, to be days of fear, anxiety and intimidation?  Not by a long shot!  We are not abandoned to be the play of sadistic God-haters…much the opposite.  We are strategically place in our neighborhoods, and we are not alone.  We have a comforter to give us strength, peace and the very words we need at the precise moment God uses us before the hostiles to advance the Kingdom of God.  God the Holy Spirit is that comforter…and He’s better than any pastor or counselor.  Read Text.

            In spite of this hostile world, testimony of the truth of Jesus will continue after His departure; first by the Apostles, and then by each succeeding generation until He comes again.  Our testimony is to be shared unimpaired in spite of opposition and persecution so that God can call those who have postponed making that decision until the last minute.  So the Father has promised the Holy Spirit’s presence to strengthen our faith and convict their hearts.  Let’s see how.

1.      Just previous to our text, Jesus has stated that the disciples could not go where He is going, yet here in verse 5 He states that none of them asked, “Where are you going?”  Why is that?  (They are now forced to think of their own impending death for standing with Jesus and are unconcerned about where He is going.  16:2)

2.      What is it about death that fills your heart with sorrow?  (For me it’s not the event of death, but how I’ll die; and the thought of leaving my family alone.)     What do you suppose the signs were that gave Jesus a clue that sorrow had filled their heart?

3.      What’s an advantage?  (1. A beneficial factor or combination of factors. 2. Benefit or profit; gain. 3. A relatively favorable position; superiority of means.)     What’s the advantage in Jesus abandoning them after only 3 years of ministry?  (The Holy Spirit will come; and with that they will scatter and accomplish much more than He could have accomplished alone.)

4.      Notice the different definitions of comforter from the Greek dictionary: parakletos, an intercessor, consoler, advocate, comforter.  Intercessor, consoler and comforter all have the same connotation, but advocate is different.   How so?  (He comforts us when we are threatened and gives us conviction, but He also stands at our side to defend us and give us spiritual counsel/truth in defense.)

5.      How can the Holy Spirit be both our advocate and act as counsel of the prosecution?  (He gives us guidance; and He convicts the world of their threefold sin.)

6.      Explain what you think each of the three things mean that the Holy Spirit does with the unbelieving world.  (He will expose the naked truth that the root of sin lies in the desire of men to live their lives in self-centered independence, refusing any allegiance to Jesus; He will show that all Jesus said and did was righteous; and He will make clear that there is a real judgment coming and Satan stands already condemned.)

7.      In verse 12 it seems that Jesus senses the disciples are maxed out emotionally.  What do you think is going on?  (They probably found it very difficult to understand why Jesus must suffer and their grief heavy hearts for their own destiny was more than they could endure at the moment.  You can sense the build-up from an intense week of conflict with the Pharisees, Jesus’ prediction of their persecution, the lateness of the hour and an emotional last meal, the Lord’s supper, His washing of their feet, etc.)

8.      Verse 13 begins with, “But,” which means it’s tied to the preceding thought.  What, then, is the meaning of verse 13?  (Their current heavy heart was blocking understanding of what Jesus has taught them and what is to come in the future, but the Holy Spirit will guide them and disclose what is was to come.)  Jn. 14:26; 1 Cor. 2:10-13; 1 John 2:20-27

9.      According to verse 13, how is the Holy Spirit just like Jesus?  (He doesn’t speak on His own initiative, but only that which the Father tells Him.)

10.  Are verses 13-15 encouraging us not to study the Word because we don’t need to if we have the Holy Spirit, or is something else meant? (No, it’s actually saying that at an unexpected moment, when we need to make a defense or speak the truth, the Holy Spirit will guide us in the truth.)  1 Cor. 2:12-14; Matt. 10:17-20

11.  The disciples are confused by Jesus’ words in verse 16.  What do you understand Him to mean?  (When He is crucified and dead, they will no longer see Him; but He will raise from the dead and they will see Him again.)

12.  Their sorrow turned to joy in verse 20 is in reference to what?  (The resurrection when death is conquered on behalf of us all!!!)  Ps. 30:5; Isa. 25:8-9; 61:3; Rev. 7:13-17

13.  Ladies, is verse 21 really true?

14.  Do you think verse 23 is teaching us that when we get to Heaven we will ask Jesus no questions?  (After the resurrection His authority will be so well established He will no longer be cross-examined.)


            Our section of study closes with a reassurance that if we ask in Jesus’ name, the Father will grant our prayers.  When we are sure of who Jesus is, we can confidently approach the Father, being sure that we are welcome there because Jesus has championed our cause at the cross and before the Father’s throne.  We can pray with joy and certainty that the Father hears our prayers.

            Once again He states that He is leaving them and going back to the Father.  The minutes He has left with them are almost gone.  He wants to make sure that His work with them is finished and that they truly believe Him, so He asks, “Do you now believe?” (16:31)  The hour is almost here when the final events will cause them each to scatter and leave Him alone.  The burden on His own heart is heavy, but He wants to leave them with an unburdened heart, so He says a wonderful benediction upon them, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (16:33)

            What greater comfort could He bring?  What greater reassurance that we are never alone?  He has promised us in one breath, a Comforter will come, and in another breath, courage to face tribulation because He has overcome the world!!

            Hallelujah!  What a Savior!  He’s a friend better than any pastor!

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