The Church Year and the Lectionary Commentary – Pentecost Sunday (Day 4)
John 15:26,27; 16:4-15
26 “When the Companion comes, whom I will send from the Father—the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 You will testify too, because you have been with me from the beginning.
4 But I have said these things to you so that when their time comes, you will remember that I told you about them.
“I didn’t say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I go away to the one who sent me. None of you ask me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Yet because I have said these things to you, you are filled with sorrow. 7 I assure you that it is better for you that I go away. If I don’t go away, the Companion won’t come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will show the world it was wrong about sin, righteousness, and judgment. 9 He will show the world it was wrong about sin because they don’t believe in me. 10 He will show the world it was wrong about righteousness because I’m going to the Father and you won’t see me anymore. 11 He will show the world it was wrong about judgment because this world’s ruler stands condemned.
12 “I have much more to say to you, but you can’t handle it now. 13 However, when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you in all truth. He won’t speak on his own, but will say whatever he hears and will proclaim to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and proclaim it to you. 15 Everything that the Father has is mine. That’s why I said that the Spirit takes what is mine and will proclaim it to you.
We are a “companioned” people. Here lies the deep truth and power of Pentecost. Beyond empowering, beyond spiritual gifts, beyond even the fruit of the Spirit, is the profoundly comforting and oddly countercultural reality that loneliness is no longer a possibility for those who “abide” in Jesus.
Jesus’ discerned that his disciples were struggling with that possibility, even though none of them would talk openly about it (14:6). That’s why he spends time spelling out how the reality of his presence will continue with them even though he will no longer be physically present. You see, loneliness, or fear of loneliness, is an appropriate response for humans faced with the prospect of being without their God, of creatures being disconnected from their Creator.
God never envisioned such a state of affairs when he created us. No, God always intended to be with, or “companion” his creatures on their journey to the full maturity and flourishing for which he made us. Whether pictured as the tree of life in the Garden, or God “walking” with his creatures in the garden, or God’s glory residing in the Tabernacle/Temple, God’s desire is to be in “companionship” with his people in ever-increasing intimacy.
Thus we should not be surprised that Jesus tells his disciples that as he is leaving them physically he is at the same time sending them another Companion, the Holy Spirit, that he may be with and in them forever.
-This Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, will continue to mediate the presence and mind of Jesus to his people.
-This Spirit, this Companion, will empower the people for witness to the world.
-This Spirit will be the memory of Jesus and the mentor who leads us ever deeper into his truth, truth of which we would be otherwise ignorant of and insensitive to.
-This Spirit, will keep us connected not only to Jesus, but also to one another.
This Companion will enable Jesus to be present in and through in ways that was not possible during his earthly ministry. This is why he tells them: “I assure you that it is better for you that I go away. If I don’t go away, the Companion won’t come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” The coming of this Companion is, as it were, the “end game” in God’s plan to be in as intimate a communion and companionship with his people as possible. That He has given us his Spirit is what makes Pentecost the culmination of Easter. Not only is Jesus risen and ascended to the right hand of the Father, he is also present in, with, and through each one of his people. This is why we can never be alone.
And in our relationally-starved and lonely world this is the most precious gift of all!