25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:25-26)
What are some of the names that you answer to?
A few of mine are “Honey,” “Daddy,” “Pastor,” “Chris or Christopher,” and perhaps one you didn’t know I go by, my dad sometimes calls me “Lil Dude.”
I’m the same person, but each name describes a different aspect of who I am. I’m the same person, but in a sense, a bit of a different person, having different works, loving different people in somewhat different ways. The same is true of you.
On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Christian Church rejoices in the gift of the Holy Spirit who still calls, gathers, and enlightens every believer!
The Holy Spirit is true God and a Person of the Holy Trinity, and as a Person, also has different names. Take, for example, one single word in the Greek that faithful Bible translators have grappled with for centuries.
But the Parakletos (the Helper), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name….(John 14:26
Our translation tries to be as broad as possible:”Helper.” And perhaps that’s the way to go! After all, a parakletos literally means “called to stand beside.” Kletos = “called” and para = “to the side.” The Holy Spirit is called to stand beside us, to help us.
If this sense is right, then we need to understand that the Holy Spirit doesn’t help us by splitting the work 50/50 – you pick up this side of the table and I’ll pick up that side of the table and with your help, we’ll move it together.
If “help” is a good word, then we need to understand it like this: I ask God for some help in playing basketball, and He gives to me some help. Lebron James, Kyrie Irving, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant. Now that’s some help! If those are the players that are called to stand beside me, then I’m gonna be awesome! I don’t have to touch the ball for us to win the basketball game. It will probably be best if I don’t touch the ball.
Other faithful translations give the Holy Spirit the name “Comforter.” He is called to stand beside us to comfort us. When we are lonely, when we are sad, when we are grieving, or feeling worthless, or afraid, or anxious, or frustrated living in this valley of the shadow of death, He comforts us. Jesus brings this aspect out when He says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27).
Or as our Introit preached to us about the comfort and joy our Lord gives to us:
The Spirit of the Lord fills the world. Alleluia.
Let the righteous be glad;
let them rejoice before God;
yes, let them rejoice exceedingly. Alleluia. (Psalm 68)
Still other translations give the Holy Spirit the name “Counselor.” That is, He has a primary role in teaching us.
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have to you. (John 14:26)
Or, our collect:
O God, on this day You once taught the hearts of Your faithful people by sending them the light of Your Holy Spirit. Grant us in our day by the same Spirit to have a right understanding in all things and evermore to rejoice in His holy consolation; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Good teachers not only know the right answer, they also ask the right questions. The Holy Spirit counsels our hearts with questions to show us our sins.
Have you been angry? Have you hurt someone with your words? How you been living a sexually pure and decent life in what you say, think, and do? How is your attitude toward authority? How is your prayer life? Are you always rejoicing in the Lord’s Word or do you find it boring or uninteresting at times? Are you sacrificing your selfish desires for the sake of the people God has placed around you? Are you trusting God with all your heart, even during times of great suffering and trouble?
Here’s another question from our readings: What happens when a bunch of sinners work together to make a name for themselves? The tower of Babel (Genesis 11) helps us see the answer: a bunch of trouble, a bunch of prideful people will heap up a bunch of sin that’s going to eventually hurt others and themselves. Our Lord scatters them out of grace, for their own good, not because He’s worried they’re going to actually build up to heaven and take Him off His throne.
The Holy Spirit as Counselor quite often asks questions that are meant to lead us to recognize a little bit about our sins in thoughts, words, and deeds.
Good Counselors also have answers to good questions.
Peter’s Pentecost speech for today eventually goes on:
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:37-38)
Again, good counselors, good teachers ask good questions, but then also have good answers.
All who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Acts 2:21)
Other translations say the Holy Spirit is called to stand beside and “intercede” for us. He is an intercessor. One who prays for us.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (Romans 8)
This takes the pressure off of having to pray for the right thing for yourself, your family, your enemies. You, in the best wisdom you can have, pray, ask for what you think is best and then take comfort that our Lord knows we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
And finally, some translations say the Holy Spirit is called to stand beside us to “advocate for us.” He’s an advocate, a defense attorney.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1)
Our conscience and heart are so often a playground for the devil to accuse us, condemn us, rub our sins in our face over and over again. But both the Holy Spirit and Jesus stand beside us to defend us by preaching to us that Jesus is righteous for us and we are righteous in Him.
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Acts 2:21).
Salvation for the sake of Jesus.
Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid …. instead “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” (John 14:27)
Faithful Christians translators have given the Holy Spirit many names because He has been called to stand beside us to help us in many different ways.
Being a Christian is adventurous. I’m not exactly sure which one (or one’s) comforted you the most today. I am confident there might be 20 different answers. But I’m also confident the comfort comes from the same Spirit and from the same Father who sent that same Spirit in the name of the same Lord Jesus who gives us all the same peace that passes all understanding. Amen.