Tim’s Daily Bread Devotional 4.1.21

By April 1, 2021Daily Bread

I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below.

Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the thoughts and words of this reading that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.

Today’s Scripture:

John 14:25-27 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate,[a] 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

In today’s reading, we have Jesus’ words preparing his disciples for the lonely time when he is no longer physically with them.  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.  Certainly, those words were for those earliest disciples, but, they are also words for us who seek to follow Jesus today.

The Holy 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, they began to come apart even when he was physically present. He upheld them, strengthened them, counseled them, and ministered to them. But now he promises another is coming who will do this same work.

The writer of Hebrews (13:5) expresses the presence of God this way:  “[God] has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'”  The writer employs the strongest negative in the Greek language.  You can get at the impact of that negative by translating it something like this: “I will never, under any circumstances, ever leave you nor forsake you.”

Jesus promised an Advocate.  In Greek, the term translated “Advocate” is paracletos, and it occurs six times in the New Testament and only in the 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.

To get at the meaning of that, it’s best, I think, to look at the ways the term “Paraclete” is used the Johannine writings.  The word is formed from two Greek words:  para – “Close to, intimate, nearby” and kaleo – “called.”

Outside of the New Testament, the word is used in different ways:

  • An advocate for a person on trial in a court of law.
  • One present in a time of grief to provide comfort, a comforter.
  • Someone who helps another through struggles—an encourager or helper.
  • A companion or a friend.
  • Someone who guides or provides advice, a counselor or teacher.
  • One who intercedes on behalf of another – a mediator or intercessor.

John seems to draw on the whole range of meanings in various functions attributed to the Paraclete.  The different English translations reflect the difficulty of choosing among these meanings.  If you survey the English translations of the Bible, you will find all those words.  The New Jerusalem Bible decides to not to translate it at all, but to use the English form of the Greek word parakletos – “Paraclete” rather than settle on one English noun.  The Greek reader would have heard all the meanings that are lost to the contemporary reader when one English noun is used to the exclusion of the others.  It is such a RICH word!

On this Maundy Thursday, we remember Jesus’ final meal with his disciples in the Upper Room and the words he spoke to his disciples.  We celebrate that God the Holy Spirit is present with us today—our Divine Advocate, our Friend, our Encourager, our Counselor, our Teacher, our Helper, and our Strengthener.

The Holy Spirit also energizes us and challenges us to be all those things for others.  Near the end of the gospel of John, there is a remarkable call to discipleship.  The risen Christ is present with the gathered community of faith, huddled in fear behind locked doors.  Jesus came and stood among them, John says, and said, “Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  When he had said this, he breathed on them (breath, wind and Spirit are all translations of the same word—both in Greek and in Hebrew) and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  When that earliest community of faith experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit, they experienced it along with a call:  “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  The call is to live and to minister as Jesus did.

Ernest Campbell describes the experience all visitors to the Metrodome stadium in Minneapolis encounter.  I’ve never been there, but he says, “When one leaves the Metrodome, there is a mighty push of wind that propels one to the outside world in a hurry. A physicist would be needed to explain this phenomenon. Something about the controlled pressure of the dome clashing with the prevailing pressure outside. But the outrush is strong and unmistakable. It has thrust. It propels. Exiting this sports arena is an event in itself.”

That’s a great image for the church and worship.  We come together to worship and then the wind of God, the breath of God, the Holy Spirit propels us and pushes us out into the world

to live because Christ lives

to love because Christ loves

to forgive because Christ forgives

to serve because Christ serves

to be a friend because Christ is our friend

to comfort because Christ is our comforter

to help because Christ is our helper.

AMEN.

There is a lot of theology woven in to hymns. To enhance today’s reading, I recommend listening to “Spirit of the Living God”. I hope you will take a few moments to let the words of this message and the emotion that always connects us to music connect with your soul. Listen to this hymn on SoundCloud.

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
Senior Pastor

Here’s more about this passage of scripture via Upper Room devotionals:

FINDING GOD IN LOSS

When I am broken, God will help me rebuild.

read more  SIGN UP TO RECEIVE DEVOTIONAL VIA EMAIL

Spirit of the Living God

Spirit of the living God
Spirit of the living God
We only want to hear Your voice
We’re hanging on every word

Spirit of the living God
Spirit of the living God
We want to know You more and more
We’re hanging on every word

Come and speak to us, oh Lord
Spirit of the living God
Spirit of the living God
We only want to hear Your voice
We’re hanging on every word

Spirit of the living God
Spirit of the living God
We want to know You more and more
We’re hanging on every word

‘Cause when You speak, and when You move
When You do what only You can do
It changes us
It changes what we see and what we seek
When You come in the room
When You do what only You can do
It changes us
It changes what we see and what we seek
You’re changing everything

Spirit of the living God
Spirit of the living God
We’re leaning in to all You are
Everything else can wait

Spirit of the living God
Spirit of the living God
Come now and breathe upon our hearts
Come now and have Your way

‘Cause when You speak, and when You move
When You do what only You can do
It changes us
It changes what we see and what we seek
When You come in the room
When You do what only You can do
It changes us
It changes what we see and what we seek
You’re changing everything

When You move, You move all our fears
When You move, You move us to tears
When You move, You move all our fears (yes, You do)
When You move, You move us to tears
When You fall, we fall on our knees
When You fall, we fall at Your feet
When You fall, we fall on our knees
When You fall, we fall at Your feet

‘Cause when You speak, when You move
When You do what only You can do
It changes us
It changes what we see and what we seek
When You come in the room
When You do what only You can do
It changes us
It changes what we see and what we seek
You’re changing everything

Spirit of the living God
Spirit of the living God

We only want to hear Your voice
We’re hanging on every word

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