Good morning! I hope this day finds you and your family well, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers daily during this difficult time.
I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below — as well as on the theology woven into “It is well with my soul.”
John 14:15-27 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Promise of the Holy Spirit
15 “If you love me, you will keep[a] my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate,[b] to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in[c] you.
18 “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.
25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate,[d] the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
A classic cartoon in the Saturday Evening Post showed a young boy about five or six years old talking on the telephone. He says, “Mom is in the hospital, the twins and Roxie and Billie and Sally and the dog and me and Dad are all home alone.”
There was a crowd in the house and he felt alone. Why? Because Mom wasn’t there. You know what that’s like, don’t you? One can be in a crowd and feel alone.
Following Jesus’ death on the cross, the disciples were together in the Upper Room, yet they felt alone. A room full of people—alone. Why? The one who was their friend, their comforter, their counselor and teacher, their helper, their encourager, and their strength was gone.
In today’s passage of scripture we have Jesus’ words preparing his disciples for that lonely time. He shared a meal with them and at that meal he prepared them for his arrest, his mockery of a trial, his death and his resurrection—the time when Jesus would again be present with the disciples. He said these words for those earliest disciples. But, they are also words for us who seek to follow Jesus today.
Jesus said, ” I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. ” He uses a word for “another” which in Greek means “another of the same kind.” There is a reference here to the mystery of the Trinity; three persons in one: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all distinct, yet being only one God. The Spirit will continue the work that Jesus had been doing with the disciples. The reason they had held firm in their faith for three and a half years was because they were with Jesus. The minute they lost sight of who he was, even when he was physically present, they began to fall apart. He upheld them; he strengthened them; he counseled them; he ministered to them. But now he promises another is coming who will do this same work.
In Hebrews 13:5 Jesus makes it clear that the Spirit will be a continually abiding presence: “with you forever.” The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us and with us. The writer of Hebrews (13:5) puts it this way: “Be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'” There is the strongest negative in the Greek language: “I will never, under any circumstances, ever leave you nor forsake you.”
Jesus promised an “advocate.” In the Greek, the term translated “advocate” is paracletos and it occurs six times in the New Testament and only in writings of John (here and 14:26; 15:26-27; 16:7-11, 12-14; 1 John 2:1). The English version of the word is Paraclete. Jesus promised that God would send us a Paraclete, the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit to be with us forever. We will never be alone. Jesus promises that he will not leave us orphaned. The Paraclete, the Spirit will be with us always. The Paraclete is the very presence of God with us today. The Good News of our faith that we affirm today is the good news of the presence of God in our lives.
One of the affirmations of faith that we sometimes recite in worship is called A Modern Affirmation. Part of it says, “We believe in the Holy Spirit as the divine presence in our lives, whereby we are kept in perpetual remembrance of the truth of Christ, and find strength and help in time of need.”
There are two hymns about the Holy Spirit that are prayer hymns. I invite you to read these words and make this prayer your own:
Breathe on Me, Breath of God. Fill me with life anew, that I may love what Thou dost love and do what Thou wouldst do. Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster